NORMAL (HOI) -- Wednesday, the IHSA Boys March Madness was welcomed to the Champaign-Urbana area, on Thursday the Girls March Madness was reintroduced to Normal.
The ball keeps on bouncing at Redbird Arena, the Girls State Basketball Championships will stay in Normal for the next three years, something that’s been a high flying experience for everyone the past 28.
"It's like coming home," said Beth Sauser, IHSA Assistant Executive Director and Girls Basketball Administrator.
"I'll never forget the first time coming to the tournament," added Kristen Gillespie, Head Coach of the Illinois State Women's Basketball team.
While Peoria had a strong bid to snag the girls tournament to go along with the boys.
"It definitely was in consideration for a long time," said IHSA Executive Director, Craig Anderson.
IHSA officials say they felt confident in the history of Redbird Arena.
"The setting and location for the girls tournament here in Redbird Arena had created a home for itself here and so in weighing all the different factors, we felt like the girls should return," explained Anderson.
That experience isn't lost on the players, coaches, and fans.
"We take pride in providing a really tremendous championship experience for the student athletes and that's really what this is all about is those kids that are playing on the Redbird Arena floor," said Illinois State Athletic Director, Larry Lyons.
"Basketball matters in our state and girls basketball does and that's why I'm so proud that we can play a small part in that at Redbird Arena," continued Gillespie.
Lyons says hosting the players, their families and communities across the state makes the girls tournament special.
It is expected to continue having more than a $1.5 million boost to the Bloomington-Normal economy.