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Our View: More effort needed for IHSA football championships

Published: Friday, Aug. 23, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

There are a fewer than 100 days until the Illinois High School Association’s state football championships will be played for the first time at Northern Illinois University’s Huskie Stadium, and the effort is gathering steam.

This week, the DeKalb County Board became the latest organization to sign on as a sponsor, contributing $25,000 to IHSA Destination DeKalb. That puts the total fundraising about $150,000, still $75,000 short of the group’s goal of $225,000. Other businesses and individuals who can donate money should – there’s nothing to lose from becoming a sponsor of an event that will certainly provide economic benefits for the area in years to come.

Fundraising is but one part of the effort, however. Another part will be recruiting volunteers. Organizers are hoping to recruit about 200 people to be ushers, parking lot attendants and ticket-takers, among other positions. Event organizers have said they plan to mount a volunteer recruiting push in the months ahead.

This effort is worth supporting, and the County Board – along with sponsors including the city of DeKalb, Monsanto, Kish Health System, and Shaw Media (owner of the Daily Chronicle_ – is to be commended for its support.

Huskie Stadium will be the site for the football championships at least five times, in odd numbered years from this year until 2021. Perhaps by then, our area will have them so down to a science that we can take them over permanently.

The eight football championship games are played on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, which this year will be Nov. 29 and 30. They are expected to draw about 30,000 fans, many of whom will be visiting the DeKalb area for the first time.

The effort is expected to generate about $1 million for the local economy; not to mention the residual benefits that come along with giving outsiders a reason to become acquainted with what DeKalb County has to offer.

Prospective NIU students will get to see the campus facilities, including its new athletic facilities along with the campus area. In an area where the university is such an important economic driver, exposing more high school students to what NIU has to offer can only be a benefit. New visitors will also get to see some of the other things the area has to offer as well.

You can learn more about the effort online at www.IHSADestinationDeKalb.com. Events of this scope are always hardest to organize the first time. But with the community rallying to the cause, no doubt it will be a success.

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