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URBANA — Urbana will consider a $7,500 annual contribution to the area’s effort to bring back the state boys’ basketball tournament.

When Champaign-Urbana bid for the tournament five years ago, Urbana Mayor Diane Marlin led the effort as an alderwoman to get the city to pledge $5,000 a year instead of nothing.

“I’m recommending to you ... that we budget $7,500 a year for the three fiscal years of this bid,” Marlin said at Monday’s city council meeting. “We expect, in terms of impact on the community, additional people in the community over the weekend. We expect hotels, restaurants, retail outlets, gas stations to benefit from the visitors. And it’s also a great opportunity to showcase the community to people from all over the state, especially kids coming down for the first time and seeing the State Farm Center.”

The Urbana city council will vote on the contribution at its Monday meeting. Marlin said letters of support are due by Dec. 10.

Champaign-Urbana hopes to bring back the tournament it once hosted for 77 years until 1995, when it lost the tournament to Peoria.

Peoria is also planning to bid for the tournament, which is held at the Peoria Civic Center’s Carver Arena.

The IHSA is expected to make a decision in March.

For Champaign-Urbana’s bid, it hopes to take advantage of the renovated State Farm Center that was under construction when it last bid.

Visit Champaign County is leading the effort, and at Tuesday’s Champaign city council meeting, VCC President Jayne DeLuce said, “Let’s bring it home.”

She thanked Champaign for increasing its contribution from $30,000 annually to $50,000.

“It is a collaborative effort between VCC, U of I athletics, private and public partners,” DeLuce said. “And I think what I’d like to say on this particular one is, the bid efforts are collaborative, and we play a big role in bringing that together.”

Five years ago, it helped pull together a $750,000 bid, which included $510,000 pledged from donors and private entities and $240,000 coming from local communities.

In addition to the pledges from Urbana and Champaign, Savoy is doubling its pledge from $5,000 annually to $10,000, Rantoul is keeping its pledge amount even at $5,000 annually, Tuscola is staying at $2,000 annually, St. Joseph is increasing its pledge from nothing to $500 annually, and Mahomet is dropping its $1,000 a year pledge.

News-Gazette