ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Thursday was supposed to be day one of a national women’s bowling tournament at Cherry Bowl in Rockford, but COVID-19 changed those plans.
City leaders say that all of the cancelled events means missing out on millions of tourism dollars.
John Sommer, owner of the Cherry Bowl bowling alley, said, “I’m disappointed, obviously, for the Rockford-area, but I’m really sad for the ladies who are on tour. This has got to be devastating to them.”
The Cherry Bowl was set to host the Professional Women’s Bowling Association on Thursday through Saturday.
Instead, the group has cancelled their entire season, and Cherry Bowl still hasn’t reopened after being shut down due to COVID-19.
The Rockford Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (RACVB) says that it’s one of 55 scheduled event which have been cancelled so far because of the pandemic.
Lindsay Arellano, RACVB’s VP of Sales and Service, said, “That’s a loss of $19 million of economic impact to our community that we would’ve seen through stays at hotels, restaurants, shops, gas, all of the things that people are spending their money on when they come into town.”
Arellano says some Rockford venues are working on plans so that smaller tournaments will still be able to happen this summer.
She says that she’s working with leaders from Mercyhealth Sportscore Two, who are hopeful they could host events starting in July during Phase 4 of Gov. JB Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan.
“There are some tournaments that are willing to work with that and be creative with how they structure games and game times and allowing spectators to come in so they can adhere to that 50 people guideline in Phase 4,” Arellano said.
As for the Professional Women’s Bowling Association, Sommer says that league tournaments are scheduled to come to Rockford in both 2022 and 2023.
“The positive is that we’re going to get them for two years, and that’ll either be at Cherry Bowl or Don Carter. It’ll be fun to have them back; it’s been quite a few years since we’ve had a tournament,” she said.
Arellano says that so far, tournament directors haven’t been hesitant to schedule events for 2021.
She said the RACVB is hard at work to fill up next year’s calendar.
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