News Local/State

Against Prussing’s Wishes, Urbana To Pursue Options For IHSA Bid


Defying the mayor, the Urbana City Council has asked city staff to prepare options for a potential bid to help bring back the IHSA state High School Basketball Tournament.

Mayor Laurel Prussing says the city can’t afford the contribution, since it no longer receives property tax payments from Carle Hospital.

Alderman Charlie Smyth supports the proposal, saying it’s important to back issues that resonate with the community.

But he understands Prussing’s concerns over budget constraints.

“We really don’t want to lay off anybody, that’s ultimately when happens when your money is limited," he said.  "And frankly, I don’t want to lose police, fire, or public works.  These are the people that do heavy lifting day to day.”

Smyth said the council can override Prussing’s veto with five votes, as long as the decision doesn’t involve the current budget year.  

He expects economic development staff to present a few options at next Monday’s council meeting.

The villages of Savoy and Rantoul recently bid $5,000 a year for five years to help bring the basketball tournament back to The State Farm Center in 2016.  And the Champaign City Council gave its tentative approval Tuesday night to making a $50,000 annual contribution to the effort.

The State Farm Center (formerly the Assembly Hall) hosted the state high school basketball tournament for 77 years, but the IHSA has held it in Peoria for the past 19 years.

UPDATE: This story was updated to include news that Champaign and Rantoul have pledged money for an IHSA tournament bid. -- 11/25/14