If it has Illini and “Rose Bowl” written on it, it probably won’t be on the store shelf long enough to collect any dust.

If it has Illini and “Rose Bowl” written on it, it probably won’t be on the store shelf long enough to collect any dust.

Springfield area retailers report that ever since news broke earlier this month that the Fighting Illini were headed to the 2008 Rose Bowl, U of I sports paraphernalia has become very popular. Some of the best-selling items are special edition shirts, jackets and pennants that commemorate the Illini’s Jan. 1 Rose Bowl appearance.

“The Rose Bowl stuff doesn’t last long. I would say that within two or three days of receiving it, it’s gone,” said Mike Brennan, a manager at Pro Image at White Oaks Mall.

The Fighting Illini have not played in the Rose Bowl since 1984 when they lost to UCLA. News that they would be playing USC in the 2008 Rose Bowl was announced Dec. 2, which was a Sunday. On Tuesday morning, Pro Image received its first shipment of Illini Rose Bowl items.

“Since then, we’ve had two or three big shipments, and it’s just gone,” Brennan said Wednesday. “We have a few sizes left – the smalls and mediums. We are going to try to get one more run in before the end of week.”

Over at MC Sports, 2385 S. MacArthur Boulevard, it’s a similar story. That store received its first shipment of Illini Rose Bowl gear about the same time as Pro Image, and it started selling immediately.

“They were selling as soon as we opened the box. People were waiting for them,” said Steve Tisckos, a manager at MC Sports.

Most Rose Bowl items still in the store are in youth sizes, Tisckos said.

In addition to clothes, Pro Image also sells other Illini Rose Bowl items, such as Christmas ornaments, beer glasses pennants and stickers.

Like the clothes, they have gone fast.

“I know we are out of the pennants and ornaments completely,” Brennan said.

Enthusiasm for the Illini isn’t limited to Springfield.

Tim Davis, president of Suzy Davis Travel, has arranged a special charter flight to California with the Illini Quarterback Club. The flight, which is completely booked, will fly out of Springfield’s Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport Saturday, Dec. 29.

The group has chartered a Boeing 767 wide-bodied commercial airliner and will fly about 250 people out to the game. The flight into Los Angeles will take about four hours.

“We sold out basically in a week or less. Probably four days,” Davis said from his Bloomington office.

Most of those taking the flight are from the Champaign or Rantoul areas, but others are from Decatur, Springfield and elsewhere. All are members or honorary members of the Quarterback Club, Davis said.

John Reynolds can be reached at (217) 788-1524 or john.reynolds@sj-r.com.