NORMAL, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF)–The IHSA State Football Finals are returning to where they all began, Hancock Stadium on the campus of Illinois State University in Normal. Wednesday the IHSA announced that the games will be held there the next five years from 2023-2027.

Hancock Stadium hosted the first State Finals in 1974 and continued to host them through 1998 in the smaller divisions. The larger divisions split off and where held at Northwestern’s Dyche Stadium in 1985-1998.

From 1999 through 2012 they were held exclusively at Illinois’ Memorial Stadium in Champaign. From 2013-2022 they have alternated between Memorial Stadium and Huskie Stadium at Northern Illinois University.

NIU and Southern Illinois University each submitted bids to host the IHSA State Finals the next five years. The University of Illinois submitted a big to host in 2024, 2026, and 2028.

“This decision wasn’t made lightly, as Northern Illinois University and the University of Illinois have been incredible hosts for us through the years,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “We hae a tremendous relationship with Champaign-Urband and look forward to returning there in a few short months for State Wrestling and Boys Basketball. Northern Illinois did an exemplary job, stepping up to hos beginning in 2013 when the Big Ten schedule necessitated a hosting change in the midst of the contract with the University of Illinios. Southern Illinois University’s facility stacks up with any other in the state as well.”

“Ultimately, the first-class facilities, amazing support from Illinois State University and the Bloomington-Normal communities, and the central location proved to be the biggest factors in returning to ISU for the next five years.”