CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — More than 40,000 people are expected to attend the state wrestling finals this weekend. Only about 700 of those are the high school athletes on the mats. The wrestling finals are something the Champaign-Urbana community has been hosting every year since 1973. That’s the longest active hosting streak for any IHSA sport or activity.
These wrestlers come from 250 different schools in the state. Along with them come family members, friends and other supports. This is a huge deal for more than just wrestling fans. All of the visitors here are likely buying food here, paying for housing and paying for other entertainment in the community. The finals bring in around $80,000 in revenue for Champaign. That’s from a combination of hotel, gas, food, and beverage taxes.
“It’s just great. We’ve actually been coming up with basketball when they had it here in Champaign for many years, then we went to Peoria. Wrestling is a little bit different, it’s an individual sport instead of a team sport, and we just really enjoy wrestling now that we’ve gotten into it,” said grandparent Steve Eaton.
“I’m amazed how many people show up to it. Like I said it’s a big deal. A lot of fans come out from all around the state,” said Unity High School student Clayton Cokley.
Visit Champaign County has worked with the IHSA to help people find places to stay and entertain themselves while they’re here. Anyone still making plans to visit the area for finals should head here.
The agreement between the University of Illinois and IHSA has been renewed for another five years, so the finals will continue to be here through 2025. The quarterfinals are Thursday night, the semifinals are Friday, and the finals are Saturday.