Rockford’s newest sports facility is officially open and it’s already making a big impact.
Hundreds of people gathered for the ribbon cutting of the UW Health Sports Factory in downtown Rockford on Wednesday afternoon. Kids and adults filled the basketball and volleyball courts. The grand opening has been long awaited.
The building was formerly the site of an industrial complex owned by Ingersoll.
“The transformation is amazing,” said John Groh, President/CEO of the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The words that are coming out of [the visitor’s] mouths are ‘amazing’, ‘wow’, ‘transformational’, ‘unexpected.'”
The 108,000 sq. ft. multi-function facility will feature 96,000 sq. ft. of hard court surfaces, which can be used for a variety of different sporting events.
“In this facility, it can be volleyball, basketball, pickleball, wrestling, [or] cheer,” said Rockford Park District Executive Director Tim Dimke. “Any sports that can be played on a hard court surface can be played in this facility. We can also host trade shows, car shows.”
The Rockford region has seen an annual 11% decrease in amateur sports tournaments resulting in an annual loss of $.4 million for the area. Amateur sports tourism for Sportscore One and Two account for $15.25 million in income for the region which otherwise would not occur.
“[This will] help boost our economy, help provide jobs, and again, provide world class facilities for our residents,” said Dimke.
The facility already has 55 total booked events, including 15 in 2016 alone. It’s these events, in addition to the many, many more down the road that have officials excited about the city’s future.
“We expect to get a lot of use out of this building,” said Mayor Larry Morrissey (I-Rockford). “It will be great to drive economic activity in our central city. Again, not only for visitors but for our locals as well.”
The complex is designed to make the Rockford region competitive in amateur sports, against similar sporting complexes in Overland Park, Kansas, Grand Park, Indiana, and Wisconsin Dells.