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Commission launched with goal to increase sports tourism

GLEN ELLYN - The DuPage Convention & Visitors Bureau has launched the DuPage Sports Commission with the goal of attracting more sporting events and money to the county.

“I took over the organization about five years ago and we went through some research to make sure we were on target,” said Beth Marchetti, executive director of the DCVB.

Last month, the DCVB launched the DuPage Sports Commission with the goal of increasing sports tourism in the county and bring more people into DuPage County.

“One of the findings (of our research) is you can’t just expect people to come and visit," Marchetti said. "You’ve got to lure them here and there’s a lot of competition out there … one of the areas we could concentrate on was weekend business for our hotels and sports."

There are about 16,000 rooms in 115 DuPage County hotels and resorts, she said.

The DCVB has always been involved in promoting sports, she said, “but this allows us to gather all the sports assets under an identifiable brand. It’s more a formalized name of our sports initiative.”

The goal is to market sporting events held in DuPage County, she said.

Sporting groups may not be familiar with convention bureaus, she said, and “if they hear ‘sports commission’ they know that’s the group to talk to to get things done.”

“To now have a sports commission and a brand that we can now market, it’s going to be ‘oh, that’s who I got to’,” Marchetti said.

As an example, DuPage County has “a long legacy of sports events, from polo to NCAA track and field to golf," she said.

For example, the BMW pro golf tournament will be held at Medinah Country Club later this summer, and many different organizations are involved, including local and national media.

“To have a one-stop shop that says ‘Here where you go for hotel information’ and we have a booking engine that allows media, players, etc. to book their hotels directly through our PGA website. That’ really huge. And that keeps the tax revenues in DuPage County versus trickling into other suburban markets or the city (of Chicago),” she added.

There are three key goals for a successful sports tourism program, according to a news release from the DCVB. They are:

Gaining awareness as a regional sports tourism destination, ultimately driving increased overnight stays to the more than 100 hotels in the county;

Attracting and retaining events that are large enough to spread economic impact across the county;

And determining how sports tourism developments can benefit the recreational needs of DuPage residents and park districts.

The DuPage CVB has booked more than 60 sports events and tournaments over the past four years. That, the news release said, represents more than 60,000 visitors who generated more than 74,000 overnight hotel stays and an estimated $12.5 million in direct spending.

The Intelligentsia Cup, a cycling competition with more than 900 amateur and professional cyclists, will have three events in the county in July, including the new July 23 Lombard Cycling Classic.

“Three of the (Intelligentsia Cup) 10 days will be in DuPage County. We’ll market it as the Triple Crown,” she said. “It’s more ability market and drive interest in our area.”

The USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships is set for December 2020 in Cantigny Park in Wheaton on a customized course.

And the US Bowling Congress Convention in April 2021 at the Stardust Bowl in Addison. It’s the largest women’s sports event in the country, she said.

Returning to DuPage County for the first time since 2017 is the National Travelers Bowling Event with a week-long event at the Stardust Bowl in June 2022.

The goal, is “keeping the multiplier effect, all the money they are spending, right here in DuPage County,” Marchetti noted.

Cook County is not the main competition to attract such events, she said, noting sites in Michigan, St. Louis, Nevada and nearby Rockford are chasing the same groups.

The sports commission is already beginning to flex its muscle.

On May 29, USA Weightlifting and the DuPage Sports Commission announced the return of the Nike USA Weightlifting National Championships, powered by Rogue Fitness, to the Chicago region in 2020. The Nike National Championships will be held at the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center May 14 to 17, 2020.

It’s also hoped that the FMC Natatorium that’s being built in Westmont will eventually be home to larger high school swimming events, she added.

“It’s going to be regional draw that will fill hotel rooms and it’s a winter sport. The hotels, which desperately need business in the winter, this will help them,” Marchetti added.

And the sports commission will also market the many golf courses in the county, she said.

For more information, visit www.dupagesportscommission.com/