Archive for the ‘Rockford CVB’ Category

Investing in Sports

June 11, 2015

The Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau is making a big play to use a $55 million upgrade of its sports venues to attract more events and in turn, bring in millions of new dollars in visitor spending.

According to the Rockford Register Star, a new $24 million sports complex under construction in the downtown area landed its first big ‘get’ last month with the AAU 6th Grade Girls Basketball Tournament in 2018. That will bring an estimated 3,500 people to Rockford, projected to spend $750,000 while they visit.

That sports complex already is paying dividends, months before it is slated to open, as it’s already spurred nearly $120 million worth of development planned for the area, including two hotels.

Rock River Cup Lacrosse RockfordAccording to the paper, the tourism bureau there spends half a million dollars a year on marketing to bring sports tournaments to the region. John Groh, the bureau’s president/CEO, is quoted as saying his agency will need more personnel to capitalize on the downtown venue and a $31 million expansion on tap at Sportscore Two in Loves Park.

The Rockford region plays host to 250 sports tournaments a year, and the bureau’s goal is to attract 60 more a year by 2018. But it’s a competitive market. The 600-acre National Sports Center in Blaine, Minnesota offers a soccer stadium, more than 50 soccer fields and an eight-rink ice facility. The $33 million Louisville Slugger complex in Peoria has 10 synthetic turf youth softball and baseball diamonds, plus a dome for indoor events. And Westfield, Indiana, already has plans to expand its still-new 400 acre Grand Park youth sports complex with two indoor venues.

Amateur sports tournaments produced nearly $9 billion in visitor spending in the U.S. last year, with 42 percent of those events played in the Midwest, according to the National Association of Sports Commissions. And Groh is quoted as saying the sports tournament business has become increasingly competitive.

“Cities everywhere are building more athletics venues and facilities, but there’s a finite number of tournaments to go around,” he said. “So you have relatively the same number of buyers and more sellers. The buyers are in a relative position of power and can extract more from tournament hosts, so that means we have to be really smart about how we put deals together and market what we have to offer.”

Right now visitor spending tied to sports tournaments brings in roughly $16 million a year to the Rockford region. That figure is expected to double within three years with the indoor athletic complex in downtown Rockford and expansion of Sportscore Two.

For Rockford, the investment in sports is paying off for now, and in the future.