Today we will be inside 30 days remaining until the Illinois High School Association football championship games kick off in DeKalb for the first time.
It’s an effort all of us in the community should support, whether it’s by volunteering to help out as a ticket taker, usher or parking attendant during the event, donating to the effort, or simply by buying a ticket and coming out to see some of the games.
The eight championship games will be played Nov. 29 and 30, the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, at Northern Illinois University’s Huskie Stadium. The IHSA has committed to holding the games in DeKalb in each odd-numbered year through 2021.
The event is expected to generate about $1 million for the local economy as an estimated 30,000 visitors stay in local hotels, shop at local stores and buy gas, food and other essentials. That should provide a great boost as the area kicks off the holiday shopping season.
Perhaps more importantly, this event represents a chance for us to introduce outsiders to what DeKalb County has to offer.
We already know life here is good. We enjoy the benefits of having a major university, combined with the easy pace and friendly feel of a smaller community. And yet we’re only about an hour from downtown Chicago on Interstate 88, and even closer to Rockford.
These games also will be a chance for prospective students to see the NIU campus, and perhaps consider studying here. Athletes and spectators also will get to see and experience NIU’s new and improved athletic facilities, from the new Chessick Practice Center to the sharp new Huskie Stadium video board.
Exposure to our city also could show outsiders that the area is a viable candidate for future business or other development.
This event will be more than just a two-day celebration of 16 of the state’s football teams, but it will be that, as well. We should all support the IHSA Destination DeKalb host committee as it works to make Huskie Stadium’s debut as the football championship host site a first-class event. Many sponsors have stepped forward, including the city of DeKalb, DeKalb County, Kish Health System, Monsanto and the NIU Foundation, who have contributed $25,000 toward the effort. Organizers say they are close to their fundraising goal, but aren’t there yet.
Tickets to the games are available now through TicketMaster.com, and cost $12.50 for adults for general admission. People interested in volunteering can register online at ihsadestinationdekalb.com, and information about sponsorship is available there as well.
More than 100 high school athletic directors signed a petition supporting playing the championship games at Huskie Stadium when officials were bidding for the right to host them. Let’s rally behind this effort and show them they made the right choice.
Note to Readers: This article was change to correct the dates the championships will be held.