High School Soccer: IHSA moves soccer state finals to ISU

The Illinois High School Association announced Wednesday that it has selected ISU’s Hancock Stadium to host the state soccer finals for the next five years.

IHSA chose ISU over bids from NIU and SIU. The IHSA wanted a permanent location for the Games for the next five years. Recently, games alternated each year between Memorial Stadium in Champaign and Huskie Stadium in DeKalb.

The University of Illinois has applied for hosting every two years. Illinois cannot host the games every year due to schedule commitments.

ISU’s Hancock Stadium hosted the Games from 1974 to 1998.

“We are delighted with all of the hosting offers we have received for the IHSA Football State Finals,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “Seeing the passion these university communities have for hosting the state finals and the amazing stadiums that each campus offers didn’t make the decision easy for us. Ultimately, world-class facilities, great support from Illinois State University and the Bloomington Normal communities, and central location proved to be the most important factors in returning to ISU for the next five years.”

Hancock Stadium received a $23 million renovation in 2013, and the ISU recently began construction of a new indoor soccer practice facility adjacent to the stadium.

“It’s a great place,” said Batavia football coach Dennis Piron. “They are very proud of what they do there. The improvements throughout this area of ​​Bloomington have been tremendous. It has a lot to offer.”

Attendance at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb was excellent and the venue’s smaller capacity gave the games a better feel than the much larger Memorial Stadium.

“It’s a great move,” said Nazareth coach Tim Racki. “It’s great for the kids to play at a Big Ten University, but you want that feeling of a big game, and that’s hard to get in a place with 60,000 fans. I think ISU will bring that great feeling that we had at NIU to the table. You can just about fill this space.”

Bloomington-Normal’s central location has long been considered ideal. It’s not too far for fans of the Chicago area or the rest of the state.

“The more central location is ideal,” said Piron. “It’s a vibrant community in Bloomington. I really loved playing at NIU. It was much more comfortable [than Memorial Stadium]. I think the ISU will be cozy too.”

Hancock Stadium, Memorial Stadium, Huskie Stadium and Dyce Stadium at Northwestern are the only venues that have ever hosted the Football State Finals.

“This decision was not made lightly as Northern Illinois University and the University of Illinois have been incredible hosts to us over the years,” Anderson said. “We have an excellent relationship with Champaign-Urbana and look forward to returning to play state wrestling and boys’ basketball in a few months. Northern Illinois did an exemplary job, appearing as hosts beginning in 2013 when the Big Ten’s schedule necessitated a host change midway through its contract with the University of Illinois. Southern Illinois University’s facility rivals any in the state, and the area is known for having a deep-rooted high school sports fan base. IHSA greatly values ​​their relationships with all of these institutions and their communities.”

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