The village of Rantoul has pledged $5,000 a year for three years in a bid to bring the IHSA boys basketball tournament back to Champaign-Urbana.
Village Administrator Scott Eisenhauer said he and Mayor Chuck Smith were invited to attend a community-support presentation on the topic. Afterward, they discussed their thoughts with members of the organizing committee.
The $5,000 is the same amount the village pledged five years ago.
“This amount is below the threshold for board approval, so I was able to make the commitment administratively and informed the board of our decision to support the bid,” Eisenhauer said.
“We believe it is important for us to partner with the organizing committee because bringing an event like the IHSA State Championships to Champaign County benefits all of us throughout the region.”
Eisenhauer said Rantoul would see some benefit in hotel tax and from those who may choose to shop, buy fuel or eat in Rantoul during that weekend.
He said the village also hopes to someday bid on IHSA state championship events it could host at the new sports complex that will open in 2021 “and will want those same partners’ support in out efforts.”
Meanwhile, the Savoy Village Board has approved a $10,000-per-year contribution to a bid to bring the IHSA boys basketball tournament back to the area.
The pledge, which is double what the village gave to a bid five years ago, comes less than two months before Visit Champaign County’s bid is due Jan. 10 and as other communities are weighing how much to give.
“It’s time that this tournament came back to this community, and Savoy will be a beneficiary in many ways,” Village President Joan Dykstra said at a recent board meeting.
When the board discussed the matter, Dykstra was excited for the tournament but initially cautious about pledging $10,000.
“I’m not opposed to $10,000, but that’s quite generous,” she said. “That would be quite a commitment for the village, in terms of actual tax dollars.”
Trustee Heather Mangian questioned whether it was worth doubling the village’s pledge, especially since the tournament will be held in a new format over one weekend instead of two.
But by the end of the meeting, Mangian said she “could get comfortable” with pledging $10,000. At Wednesday’s meeting, she and the rest of the board voted in favor.
Earlier, the Champaign City Council directed city staff to contribute $50,000 annually to the effort, up from the $30,000 a year it pledged five years ago, when Champaign-Urbana lost out to Peoria.
Peoria is planning to bid again for the tournament, which has been held there since 1996. Before that, Champaign-Urbana hosted it for 77 years.
Everyone present at the Champaign council meeting voted to move forward with the $50,000 pledge.
“I think the economic boost it would generate for our area during a slower time of year is important, representative Angie Brix said. “And I think exposing people to the University of Illinois and to our community, maybe people who’ve never visited here or maybe went to school here in the past but maybe haven’t been back in a long time,
I think that’d be a great opportunity to get them here.
“And I also think it would be an exciting experience for those that would get the opportunity to play in the Assembly Hall since it’s been renovated.”
Urbana pledged $5,000 a year five years ago, and Mayor Diane Marlin has said the city would probably give at least that much this time around.
Urbana Mayor Diane Marlin said the Urbana City Council will vote on the proposal this week.
In 2015, Visit Champaign County put together a $750,000 bid, with $510,000 of that coming from donors and private entities and $240,000 from local communities.
While Savoy and Champaign have increased their contributions, Mahomet has decided not to give anything.
For the last bid, it pledged $1,000 a year.
“We had told them that at this point, we’re not contributing,” said Patrick Brown, the village’s administrator.
“No reason in particular. From our standpoint, we probably get the least amount of economic benefit from that type of event,” he said, noting the dearth of hotels in Mahomet. “And we’re looking at reducing our contributions to other county-wide agencies.”
And Tuscola plans to match what it pledged five years ago.
“Our tourism board met yesterday and pledged $2,000 per year to it,” said Drew Hoel, the city’s administrator.
“We would see an uptick in hotel stays, certainly,” Hoel said. “And then everything that comes with that: shopping and food and gas.”
The IHSA is expected to make a decision in March about where the tournament will be held in 2021, 2022 and 2023.