“Bring your game to Rockford.”
That’s not just a play on words… It’s actually the name of the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau’s new marketing campaign.
Former Auburn High School star basketball player turned Toronto Raptor, Fred Van Vleet, will be the face of that campaign.
He’s been named the city’s first ever sports ambassador.
“Very proud and very excited to be an ambassador,” said Fred Van Vleet, a guard for the Toronto Raptors, in a video played at the event. “And let’s just continue to build and grow and work together, you know, towards bettering our community.”
The campaign actually kicked off this fall.
Van Vleet’s already been featured in a series of ads for magazines that highlight sports tourism in an effort to bring more tournaments to the Rockford area.
He’ll also help put on events for the community, like basketball camps and tournaments.
“Having Fred as our sports tourism ambassador, helps carry the message about how through and through Rockford is a sports town,” said Groh. “And that through dedication, and determination and hard work, whether on the court, or off the court, you can succeed, and you can do that in Rockford.”
“He’s really proud of where he comes from,” said Van Vleet’s mother, Susan Danforth. “He just really loves coming back and, you know, it always comes back to basketball, he loves to do those kinds of things. He loves little kids. And just anytime he can be in a gym, that’s all that matters.”
Officials say the Bring Your Game 2 Rockford initiative not only will bring in some major dollars for the local economy, it will further cement the city’s status as a premiere amateur sports destination.
“Rockford is known nationally as a sports destination,” said Groh. “As a great place to host a tournament, and as a great place to build champions.”
Groh tells me he already has one event planned for the campaign.
Van Vleet will return to Rockford February 19th to host an NBA All-Star Game watch party at the District downtown.
Money raised that night will benefit youth club basketball teams.