Unanimous Votes Approve the Reclaiming First Project

The Rockford Park District and Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, co-leaders of the Reclaiming First steering committee to retain, regain and grow the valuable amateur sports tourism market, wish to express its deep appreciation to Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Rockford's City Council, Winnebago County Board, along with Loves Park, Machesney Park, Rockton, South Beloit and Cherry Valley's Councils. The final vote needed was cast to approve the project in December, 2013.

Now that this bill has been approved locally, it allows for an increase of our local hotel tax by 2 percent in Winnebago County, to be paid by visitors. The proceeds from the tax will help fund upgrades at Sportscore One and Two, the Indoor Sports Center, as well as the new downtown indoor sports facility. These improvements will meet current industry standards, increase day and seasonal playing time, eliminate many weather-related cancellations and delays, and expand tournament capacity by allowing for longer seasons and accommodating new sporting events to happen here. The new indoor sports facility will allow us to capture a greater share of the sports tourism market, programs for the purpose of promoting tourism, competitiveness, job growth and for the general health and well-being of citizens of Winnebago County.

State-level recognition of the economic impact and importance of sports tourism is key. His support is vital to our region's effort to add new and upgraded recreational facilities for our local citizens while we grow our economy and create jobs by capturing a greater share of the profitable sports tourism market.

We also appreciate the bipartisan effort that led to this bill passing, the dedicated work of our legislative delegation, local county and city boards, chief sponsors of SB 1859 Senator Steve Stadelman and Representative Chuck Jefferson, and co-sponsors Senator Dave Syverson and Representatives John Cabello and Joe Sosnowski. Thank you, all!

Tim Dimke
Executive Director
Rockford Park District

John Groh
Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau