Bob Asmussen: I hope IHSA fields my call
The biggest school in the state hosts a baseball super-sectional today.
“I think any time you have young people on your field and they are exposed to your university that’s a positive,” Illinois baseball coach Dan Hartleb said, “not only for your university, but for the community.”
But is that enough? Not even close.
Put me in charge of the IHSA for a day — don’t freak out Bloomington-Normal, it is never going to happen — and the state championships would be moving.
To Champaign County. A lot of them.
Start with state tennis, which was played during the weekend in Arlington Heights.
No offense to the Chicago suburb, but the facilities in C-U are better.
A year ago, Illinois hosted the men’s and women’s NCAA championships.
Pretty sure it can handle the state version.
On to football, which is now splitting time between Champaign and DeKalb.
There are football players in the state who dream about stepping onto the field where Dick Butkus once scared running backs.
Where Red Grange toasted Michigan.
Where Howard Griffith ran for eight touchdowns.
Nobody grows up dreaming of playing at Northern Illinois.
If you end up there, it means the bigger schools didn’t notice you. Not your fault, but that’s the reality of the Big Ten vs. the MAC.
The Big Ten actually hurt Illinois’ ability to host the state finals every year, insisting that Memorial Stadium be available on Thanksgiving weekend every other season.
There is a solution. An easy solution.
One that will involve an agreement between Illinois and Northwestern: play their annual game on Thanksgiving Day.
That would free up Memorial Stadium on odd-numbered years to host the state finals.
And it would take DeKalb out of the state final rotation.
Anybody who says they prefer the finals at NIU is lying.
Have we mentioned the state boys’ basketball tournament?
Peoria has done a fine job since stealing the event back in the day.
It is time to bring it back home.
Illinois is doing its part by renovating the State Farm Center.
When it is all done, there won’t be a facility in the state that comes close.
Every state game played somewhere else is a mistake. It can be fixed.
Local businesses are going to have to do their part.
The mayors of C and U need to enact “No gouging” laws.
Guarantee the IHSA that all rooms will cost less than $100.
And make that rule stick for two decades.
The folks in charge of high school basketball want a reason to reconsider the earlier flight.
Providing the fans with affordable lodging is a great start.
And the cities have added ooldes of fancy rooms since the IHSA fled.
Call that a bonus.
As long as we are bringing the boys’ tournament back to town, better regain the girls’ tournament, too.
The State Farm Center creates a winning argument for C-U. Redbird Arena is nice, but not as nice.
Imagine St. Thomas More playing for its fourth consecutive state title in 2017.
The SFC would be rocking like an REO concert (showing my age).
No reason to mess with wrestling.
The mat men already spend their title time in C-U.
Based on the scene in town that weekend, they seem to enjoy themselves.
C-U doesn’t have to host all the state championships, just the majority of them.
We promise to show up in droves and leave you walking away saying “I can’t wait for my next visit to Champaign-Urbana.”
Staff writer Bob Asmussen can be reached at 217-351-5233 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.