DuPage County will create its own sports commission, a decision made by the DuPage Convention and Visitors Bureau following assessments from a pair of industry-leading sports development consulting groups who worked closely with a DuPage Sports Advisory Committee.
The move comes after more than two years of research and analysis concluded that an expansion of the county’s sales efforts into the sports tourism market yielded significant growth opportunities and the potential for new tax revenue. As one of the fastest growing sectors in the travel industry, sports tourism has exceeded $12 billion on the national level and is projected to grow at a pace of 12-14 percent per year over the next decade.
“The DuPage CVB continues to develop new projects that are critical to the growth and prosperity of economic development through the visitor industry, while at the same time enhancing quality of life for the nearly one million residents of DuPage County,” said DCVB Chairman Larry Forssberg.
The newly created commission will operate as a department within the DCVB, which will allocate grant money from its 2020 budget as well as private sponsorships as the commission evolves in phases. An official launch will occur on May 10 at Cantigny Park in Wheaton.
Over the last 30 years the DCVB and venue partners have proven they’re able to support larger sports tourism events, including the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club, USA Weightlifting Nationals in 2017 and numerous USBC Championships. Justin Roach, director of business development for the DCVB, said that pedigree was crucial to the creation of the commission.
“Those events were definitely recognized in the research process by the consulting team,” Roach said. “They show us that we can be competitive as a destination and can continue building on the tradition of hosting prestigious championships.”
DuPage hosted the USA Weightlifting Junior Championships last February, and will welcome USA Powerlifting Open Nationals and Raw Nationals and BWM Championship golf tournament, all in 2019, among several other youth and amateur events. Additional events coming to DuPage will be announced for the first time at the official launch at Cantigny Park.
The creation of a secondary ‘anchor’ facility to lure larger tournaments to the area was paramount to driving new events, which has long been sustained by the Stardust Bowl in Addison. The FMC Natatorium at Ty Warner Park, slated to open in 2020, will be a major opportunity for DuPage County.
Seating at the Natatorium will accommodate 1,200 around three sides of a 50-meter competition pool, featuring nine pool lanes as well as a 25-yard training pool with eight lanes. A meet management and hospitality room, parent longue, party room, concessions area, weight room and swim shop will also feature.
The DCVB has booked more than 60 sports events and tournaments over the past four years, resulting in more than 60,000 visitors, generating more than 74,000 hotel overnight stays and yielding an estimated $12.5 million in direct spending.