WGEM Sports At Six: Wednesday (December 7) IHSA State Finals For Football Set To Return To ISU’s Hancock Stadium In 2023

Bloomington-Normal Area Now Set To Host IHSA State Football Championships For The Next Five Years
Illinois High School Association
Illinois High School Association(WGEM)
Published: Dec. 9, 2022 at 5:55 AM CST
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QUINCY, Ill. (WGEM) -The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Board of Directors met for its regularly scheduled meeting at the IHSA office in Bloomington earlier today (Wednesday, December 7, 2022) and the Board approved a State Final hosting contract with Illinois State University (ISU) and the Bloomington-Normal Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (BNACVB) to host the IHSA Football State Finals at ISU’s Hancock Stadium from 2023 to 2027.

Hancock Stadium hosted the inaugural IHSA Football State Finals in 1974 and hosted over 100 IHSA Football State Championship games from 1974 to 1998 (1976 game right, 1998 below right).

Hancock Stadium underwent a $23 million dollar renovation in 2013 that included a new press box, a transformation of the east side of the stadium, new chair back seating, suites, and more stadium-wide upgrades. ISU broke ground on an indoor football practice facility adjacent to Hancock Stadium in April of 2022 that will be completed when the 2023 IHSA Football State Finals are held there on Friday and Saturday, November 24-25, 2023.

Northern Illinois University (NIU) in DeKalb and Southern Illinois University in Carbondale each submitted bids to host the IHSA State Finals from 2023-2027. The University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana submitted a bid to host in 2024, 2026, and 2028.

Only four venues have ever hosted the IHSA Football State Finals, which debuted in 1974. Hancock Stadium hosted the first six years of championship games. In 1980, the IHSA expanded from five classes to six classes, at which point the IHSA opted to keep the 1A through 3A games at Hancock Stadium, while moving the Class 5A and Class 6A contests to Dyche Stadium on the Northwestern University campus in Evanston. This arrangement lasted from 1980 to 1984. All six classes returned to Hancock in 1985 and remained there through the 1998 state championships.

The University of Illinois has hosted the State Finals since 1999, with the exception of odds years from 2013 through 2021, when the games shifted to Northern Illinois University’s campus in DeKalb.

Illinois State University currently hosts the IHSA Girls Basketball and Girls Volleyball State Finals, while the IHSA Boys Golf, Dance, Cheerleading, Journalism, Scholastic Bowl, Dual Team Wrestling, and Girls Individual Wrestling State Finals are all held in Bloomington-Normal.

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