A Publication of WTVP

There’s a popular 7th anniversary being celebrated in Peoria in March.

For fans of the IHSA Boys State Basketball Tournaments and the March Madness Experience, the 7th go-around is sure to be the best one of the games’ history in the Peoria area.

The Peoria Civic Center will be home to the sounds of cheering fans and dribbling basketballs as the Class A tournament games return March 7 to 9, and the Class AA games March 14 to 16.

On this event’s last anniversary, a total of 92,302 people got tickets for the main celebration and another 81,220 went to the party next door—the March Madness Experience.

These happy partygoers ate 2,800 pounds of nachos, drank 2,000 beverages a day and were greeted and assisted by more than 2,400 volunteers that put in more than 100,000 volunteer hours to ensure a great party.

But for the rest of the community, outside of the excellent entertainment, the most important part of the celebration was the $4.4 million spent at area businesses as a result of the event.

Whether you’re an avid basketball fan or not, it’s impossible not to feel the building excitement and the energy generated by the tournaments and the March Madness Experience that accompanies the games.

As we go through the planning stages leading up to March Madness, it is imperative that we remind ourselves of what it took to bring the Class A and Class AA championships to the Peoria area.

First, it was leadership by true community visionaries. Second, it was an aggressive sales effort on the part of many public and private sector agencies and individuals to gain IHSA’s attention. Finally, it was the hospitality and customer service provided by the thousands of volunteers, and our region as a whole, that keeps the tournament coming back year after year.

So, let’s make sure we thank our IHSA partners, the local steering committee, the corps of volunteers and the tens of thousands of people who come to town to support their teams and our economy.

Back by popular demand, the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau will be operating an information booth outside the March Madness Experience during both game weekends.

This booth, manned by volunteers, assists visitors with questions and needs concerning lodging, where to eat, what to see and do, and where to shop. Armed with brochures, fliers, maps and visitors’ guides, the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau information booth makes the fans’ job of playing in the Peoria area even easier.

By making certain all concerned know we appreciate their efforts—and the business brought through the IHSA March Madness tournaments—we’ll ensure we celebrate many future anniversaries of IHSA activities and events in the Peoria area. IBI