Rockford’s sports tourism industry honored with national recognition

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The Rockford Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (RACVB) keeps raising its game. The organization has been named Sports Tourism Organization of the Year for the second time in three years. 

The RACVB says the success comes from a city-wide team effort over three decades in the making.

“Whether its the Park District, the School District, or BMO Harris Bank Center downtown, there’s a ton of buy-in for sports tourism and really, it’s a reflection of everyone’s commitment,” said Nick Povalitis, RACVB’s Director of Sports Development.

Povalitis says since first winning the award back in 2016, they’ve been even more motivated to bring more events to the area.

“We’ve been able to leverage that success to attract more visitors. We’re seeing a lot more frequency in event companies choosing Rockford — which is something we’re proud of,” he said.

Rockford resident Roger Smith says the award is well deserved. He believes with Rockford’s central location between metropolitan areas like Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Louis, it’s a great place to host any type of event.

“It’s nice that there are people that are making that happen,” he adds. “We’ve got something to project other than the bad things that Rockford is sometimes known for.”

With venues like the BMO Harris Bank Center and the UW Health Sports Factory, residents say the Stateline can be the place for sporting events throughout the entire Midwest.

“Before I moved to Rockford, I asked friends what they knew of Rockford, and a lot of them had been to Rockford for sporting events,” said Daniel Fielder, a resident.

Fielder says the work the RACVB is doing will make a long-lasting impact on the local community, and adds the best is yet to come for Rockford.

“I think this is an indicator of changes that are coming and that are in the process of happening right now,” he said. “I definitely think this is a step in the right direction.”

The RACVB says after two successful years, Tough Mudder has signed up to host their obstacle course event for three more years at the Chicago-Rockford International Airport.

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