IHSA State Football Championships Returns to Memorial Stadium

The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) State Football Championships return to the University of Illinois’ Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Illinois, November 23–24, 2018. The top two teams from all divisions (1A–8A) will take to the turf to battle for the title of State Champion.


Visit Champaign County is ready to welcome the teams and over 35,000 fans to Champaign County over Thanksgiving weekend for this two-day sporting event, after a year away in DeKalb.


Following the semifinals that occurred this weekend, Visit Champaign County and volunteer community hosts connected with championship-bound teams to assist with lodging and logistical needs and to officially welcome them to Champaign County. They are also busy preparing for Tent City, the annual tailgate provided for state-bound teams held in Lot 32, the Southwest corner of Kirby Ave. and First St.


This year’s teams include:

1A—Forreston vs. Camp Point

2A—Gibson City vs. Maroa

3A—Byron vs. Monticello  

4A—Elmhurst (IC Catholic) vs. Kankakee (McNamara) 

5A—Lombard (Montini) vs. Joliet (Catholic Academy)

6A—Cary Grove vs. Crete-Monee

7A—LaGrange Park (Nazareth Academy) vs. St Charles (North) 

8A—Chicago Brother Rice vs. Wilmette (Loyola Academy)


“We are anxious to roll out the red carpet and welcome these football fans to our Outside of Ordinary community,” explains Jayne DeLuce, President & CEO of Visit Champaign County. “Memorial Stadium is the premier venue for the State Championships and we want to showcase our Midwest hospitality to these fans that deserve an exceptional experience on their special day.”


Friday and Saturday, 16 teams will be led into town with their official Champaign Police Department escort to Tent City which will quickly fill up with players, parents, coaches, cheerleaders and fans ready to gear up for the big games and cheer on their schools. 


The anchor of the event, Tent City’s entertainment tent will be open both days from 7:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m. with exciting activities including bags, a mechanical bull and temporary tattoos along with free cotton candy, popcorn, hot chocolate, music and a big screen TV to watch all of the games. All participating teams and their fans have the opportunity to compete in the annual tent decorating and spirit contest with each class having a winner for the team that shows the most school spirit. This non-traditional, intimate pep-rally is a crowd favorite and offers unparalleled amusement for high school football fans. All events are free for the public. 


“Hosting the State Football Championships and witnessing the incredible spirit on display by fans to help their schools bring home the trophy is one of the highlights of our year,” says Ryan Reid, Director of Sports and Special Events for Visit Champaign County. “Schools go all out, from roasting hogs to catering in meals, to having their marching bands or cheerleaders perform. The sights, the smells, the sounds and the fans create a fun and competitive atmosphere for these teams that have worked so hard all season. It’s very exciting to see.”


The IHSA State Football Championships create a significant economic impact for Champaign County through the countless filled hotels, restaurants, facility usage and more. In addition to hosting Tent City, Visit Champaign County assists with lodging for the incoming groups, hospitality, event-servicing and media relations. The outstanding working relationship between the University of Illinois, Visit Champaign County, the Champaign-Urbana community and IHSA have been fostered for more than 40 years and continues to produce outstanding high school events. 


Due to the expanded Big Ten schedule, the IHSA State Football Championships alternates between Memorial Stadium at the University of Illinois and Huskie Stadium at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. Every odd year, the event will take place in DeKalb with the championships returning to Champaign County in even years.


For interviews and more information on IHSA State Football Championships and Tent City, contact Ryan Reid at 217-351-4133 or ryanr@visitchampaigncounty.org.

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