Sports tourism in Rockford feels effect of the coronavirus

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) While high school and collegiate athletics in the Stateline have felt the impact of cancellations due to the coronavirus pandemic, it's not the only sports entity being affected. The Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau has had to make a few tweaks to its sports tourism.

Usually this time of year, places like the UW Health Sports Factory and Sportscore Two are buzzing. Sports take over the Stateline, tournaments and tourists take up hotels and restaurants. But all of that has come to a halt because of the coronavirus pandemic and it is having a major economic impact on the Rockford Region.

"There's about eight events that we've tracked that for sure we know that are canceled that are significant revenue drivers for each individual club," said RACVB Vice President of Marketing & Sports Development Nick Povalitis. "They're significant revenue drivers for the community. I mean, we're talking about eight events that total about $7 million in economic impact."

The IKWF state tournament, the Illinois middle school basketball state championships, Meltdown Ultimate, Mizuno Cup, U.S. Quad Rugby Nationals and the USA Ultimate National Team Training Camp have all been canceled. The Puma Champions Cup and Puma College Showcase were originally scheduled for April and have been postponed to later this summer.

"It's new to all of us. I think up until maybe only 7-10 days ago we started to come out of the fog of the reality of what we're all dealing with now," said Povalitis. "There for a while it was really difficult to get a sense of what was going on. Once we came to, we really made a deliberate effort to touch base. So we're making phone calls, we're shooting emails and texts as much as we can."

And while these canceled events are having a financial impact on the sports clubs, it's also affected the facilities.

"Not only the sports factory downtown, but Sportscore Two and Sportscore One. Those facilities do cost a lot of money to operate so you need a lot of revenue coming in and it's undoubtedly going to hurt."

Povalitis says the RACVB is not necessarily trying to "Bring Your Game to Rockford" but "Keep Your Game in Rockford".

"We've shifted our marketing and sales messaging recently to really hone in how we can help locally," said Povalitis.

"It's hurting everybody. We're not alone, nor are they. Again, we're here together to try and make something positive out of this whole scenario."