Momentum is building as Northern Illinois University and the DeKalb community prepare to host 16 teams in the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) state football championship series Nov. 29 and 30.
“We’re very excited,” said Bradley Hoey, NIU’s Director of Communications and Marketing and a member of the host committee. “There was a lot of publicity last year and, now that it’s over, we have to start preparing for the heavy lifting.”
Committee members are signing up volunteers to work the event, organize sponsorships and advertisements, and arrange logistics for the two-day event.
Host committee chairman Tom Matya, president of the DeKalb District 428 Board of Education, estimates the event will cost $225,000. He said some funds will be used to hire experts to train volunteers, and some will be used to supply team tents, locker room facilities and overall hospitality over the two days.
Matya and others have high hopes that volunteers and sponsorship packages will offset some of the costs. Sponsorship packages range from $50 to $25,000.
Volunteers will be needed as ushers, ticket takers, door guards, and parking attendants. Training will be provided, as necessary and relevant to the job assignment. Local volunteers will receive recognition at a home NIU football game.
The IHSA will provide referees, scoreboard operations, sideline officials and announcers for the games. All ticket sales proceeds will go to the IHSA. A percentage of concession and parking revenue will go to the DeKalb community foundation. Leftover money will be reinvested in hosting the championships in 2015.
The DeKalb/Sycamore community will have a significant economic benefit for hotels, business and local restaurants, with some 30,000 fans attending and spending an estimated $1 million.
Matya and others also have been working with the DeKalb County Economic and Development Corporation. “We want to introduce individuals to the economic opportunities available in our county and community as well as promote some of the great business we have here already,” he said.
“I think it will be a great financial benefit as well as a showcase for the community,” said Hoey, “Having a state championship, being as big as it is, brings a lot of cache to the DeKalb area, and having people identify positively to it is what we aim for.”
The IHSA named NIU to host its football championship series every odd numbered year until 2021. The University of Illinois, Illinois State University and Northeastern University were previous host locations for the series. The University of Illinois has hosted the event since 1999.
Both Matya and Hoey have high expectation for this year’s football championship series to be successful.
“I have no doubt we will have a fabulous event.” Hoey said, “I know high school football fans from across the state will be looking forward to not only this year but years to follow.”
Matya added, “Bottom line, we want to make sure that at the end of the day these young men that get to participate have what they consider a day that they’ll never forget for the rest of their lives,” Matya said, “and for the fans to positively identify to all DeKalb’s community has to offer.”
More information on volunteering and sponsorships is available at the Destination DeKalb website.