UPDATE: ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- One of the largest indoor amateur sports complexes in the Midwest will open its doors on the banks of the Rock River in downtown Rockford, Ill. in 2014. The 115,000 sq. foot riverfront complex will feature eight basketball courts, at least 14 volleyball courts, an extreme sports park, children’s play area, riverwalk, and more. On Monday, Jan. 28 the Rockford City Council approved financing for the project and hired Sink Combs Dethlefs, a nationally renowned athletic facility design firm, to lead the project’s architectural and engineering team, along with a team of local architectural and engineering firms serving as sub-consultants on the project team.
The downtown sports complex is one of four projects included in the region’s Reclaiming First master plan for sports tourism. Additionally, the region is advancing the modernization and expansion of its existing Indoor Sports Center and Sportscore One and Two complexes.
City officials are working to finalize a construction timeline, with an anticipated opening by fall 2014. The Rockford Park District will operate the complex and the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau will lead sales, marketing and booking of the complex for amateur sports tournaments.
The city-owned former Ingersoll manufacturing complex sits on the banks of the Rock River in downtown Rockford, across from Davis Festival Park. The 115,000 square foot building, built in phases between 1941 and 1967, will become a multi-court, hard surface, air-conditioned facility and will create an opportunity to host hard surface sports events that the region is currently unable to accommodate. It is anticipated that the complex will host 30+ tournaments per year, in addition to use by local citizens.
Additionally, the Reclaiming First plan calls for the outdoor fields at Sportscore Two to be expanded and updated by adding multi-sport fields, lighting and artificial turf. All volleyball and basketball activities currently at the Indoor Sports Center will be moved to the downtown complex. An additional artificial turf soccer field will be added to the existing Indoor Sports Center building, and the building will be expanded to house three additional soccer fields (five total).
Furthermore, Sportscore One will be upgraded to modernize and refresh the complex. Upgrades at the Sportscore complexes will bring the facilities up to 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 sports such as lacrosse or rugby.
The process of networking with national, regional, and local tournament organizers to discuss using Ingersoll for future tournaments is underway. Many have actually toured the facility and have expressed excitement over the project. These organizers include basketball, volleyball, wrestling, dance, and others. RACVB continues to reach out to additional organizers that cover such sports as cheerleading, tumbling, adapted sports, and action sports (i.e., rock climbing, BMX, skateboarding, etc.).
The goal is to begin construction on the downtown Ingersoll project in 2013 with the facility ready for use in 2014. The project team hopes to finalize the necessary funding for Sportscore One and Two and the Indoor Sports Center in 2013.
UPDATE: Rockford aldermen get the ball rolling on the renovation of the downtown Ingersoll building.
Three different companies have been hired to draw up engineering and design plans for the proposed sports complex on the river. It's a $15 million project. Half is being paid for by state grants. The other half will be paid for with bonds. The city hopes the one hundred thousand square foot complex will host 40 sports tournaments a year.
The streets of downtown Rockford are going to be bustling with traffic after 2014. That's if construction goes as scheduled for turning the Ingersoll building into a sports complex.
"Ingersoll is not significantly dependent on the 'Reclaiming First' legislation being passed at this point," said Rockford's capital program manager Patrick Zuroske. "So we're moving forward with the Ingersoll based on the fact that we've received significant grant funding, and we're going to go out to a bonding process to bond for the remainder."
The "Reclaiming First" legislation would have raised the hotel tax to help fund several projects in Rockford, but it failed to pass through Congress. So Rockford aldermen are working around it.
Tonight, they'll vote on several measures to allow work to start on the Ingersoll building.
"We have absolutely began reaching out to regional and national tournament directors," said Monica Krysztopa, executive vice president for the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. "We've brought them in, they've toured the facility. They've made recommendations to us on what these types of tournaments need in terms of facilities."
Senator Dave Syverson said he expects the full "Reclaiming First" bill to be passed sometime this spring.
"Since the Ingersoll is going to be covered a lot by by the city, I think they're moving forward, does send a message to Springfield that there is local support for this, they're going to move forward," said Syverson. "Now we want Springfield to do its part."
The city has already acquired seven million dollars in funding for the Ingersoll project. Tonight, Aldermen will vote on whether they can sell eight million dollars in bonds and accept seven million dollars in grant money. They'll also sign off on an architecture firm.