It’s that time of year again…a time when Peoria opens its arms to basketball enthusiasts from all over the state of Illinois; when parades of vehicles, carefully decorated in various shades of shoe polish and streamers, root for each school’s team with well wishes; when the Peoria Civic Center becomes a melting pot of IHSA basketball, welcoming players, coaches, cheerleaders, parents, grandparents, friends, and fans—individuals all coming together, as a team, to cheer on the best of the best. It’s time for IHSA March Madness.
The 2006 IHSA Boys Basketball Class A and AA Tournaments celebrate the 99th year of IHSA Boys Basketball and the 11th year of play in Peoria. Many of the young men who will play on the Peoria Civic Center court this March are experiencing the culmination of a childhood full of “hoop dreams”—a chance to play for the state championship. Introduced to the game of basketball at a very young age, they’ve grown up learning the importance and value of teamwork. Over those years, they’ve realized they’re part of something much larger than themselves; they’re part of a team. Through it all, they’ve learned about commitment, responsibility, dedication, and trust. They’ve reveled in success and been humbled by disappointment. They’ve learned about life.
This is the caliber of athletes who’ll journey from conference victories to regionals, sectionals, super-sectionals, semi-finals, quarterfinals, and the ultimate game. In Peoria, we’re fortunate to be able to celebrate this special point in time with these young athletes; we share in the anticipation, the excitement, the chaos…the madness.
Just as the groups of young athletes soon to set foot on our court, the Peoria area community has banded together again as a team to make 2006 March Madness better than ever. From the Steering Committee to organizations including the Peoria Civic Center, the Peoria Park District, the City of Peoria, Bradley University, and the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau to the more than 2,000 volunteers, we devote countless hours to making sure our visitors experience the hospitality and creativity of our region. Caterpillar Inc. and AmerenCILCO, along with many other area businesses, lead the charge by providing corporate sponsorships to infuse the March Madness Experience and support this tremendous IHSA event.
More than 80,000 people will walk through the Peoria Civic Center doors to witness the best of the best showcasing their talents, bringing a forecasted economic impact of between $4.4 and $6 million into our community. During two weekends, March 10 and 11 and March 17 and 18, our region will be packed with basketball fans, young and old.
I encourage all of us to use each opportunity to express a heartfelt welcome to these teams, families, and communities, remembering that we’re building a lifetime experience for them. We’re the home of the tournament of champions. We’re Peoria. IBI