SYCAMORE — Sycamore city officials became the latest contributor to help host high school football championship games in DeKalb.
On Monday, City Council members unanimously approved of pitching a $5,000 contribution for the Illinois High School Association championship series, which will be held Nov. 29 and 30 at Northern Illinois University's Huskie Stadium. Sycamore City Manager Brian Gregory said the money comes from a hotel and motel tax fund that has a budget of about $225,000.
Gregory said he is confident the city will receive a return on its investment.
"Obviously, we're going to see some economic impact," he said.
The championship games have been held exclusively in Champaign since 1999 but, for the next 10 years, will now be held in odd-numbered years at Huskie Stadium. Based on the turnout from the games in Champaign, DeKalb County can expect more than 30,000 people to attend the games, said Tom Matya, chairman of the IHSA Destination DeKalb Host Committee.
"We think the number will exceed that because 12 of the 16 teams normally come from north of I-80," he said. "So we believe there is going to be an even larger attendance at this event."
The games are also expected to generate between $750,000 to $1 million for the local economy, he said. The people who come will lodge in the communities and gas up their vehicles in the area.
The IHSA Destination DeKalb Host Committee is trying raise $225,000 for the cost of the event. The committee has secured sponsors such as the city of DeKalb, DeKalb County Board and KishHealth System to offset the costs. Each of them have contributed $25,000.
The committee is also trying to reduce the costs by gathering more than 200 volunteers who will work as ushers, ticket takers and parking attendants.
Jerry Smith, a member of the host committee, said at Monday's City Council meeting the committee has between $185,000 to $190,000 raised or committed for the event.
"What I'm really excited is the fact that you as a leading City Council here in DeKalb County is giving this consideration," he said. "As I've said to somebody else, this is not about eight football games. This is much more than 16 teams coming to NIU to play. This is an opportunity to showcase DeKalb County."
Sycamore Mayor Ken Mundy said an event like this is a great instrument to bring DeKalb, Sycamore and NIU together.
"There isn't a better, more positive event … than something like this," he said.