Illinois Governor Pat Quinn joined local government, business, civic, and labor leaders Friday, August 1, 2014, in kicking off the first phase of construction for the region's Reclaiming First initiative. Surrounded by youth from the region, the Governor helped "kick off" the expansion of Sportscore Two, 8800 E. Riverside Blvd, Loves Park, by kicking a soccer ball into a soccer goal net.
Governor Quinn announced a $2.5 million investment of Parks and Recreational Facility Construction (PARC) funds to expand the Indoor Sports Center at the Sportscore Two complex. The Governor also announced that the Rockford Park District has been awarded the Tourism Attraction Development Grant (TAP) from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Office of Tourism in the amount of $641,899. The TAP grant assists in the development and improvement of tourist attractions in Illinois, thus increasing hotel/motel stays and providing economic impact for the state. The TAP grant will help pay for replacing natural turf with an artificial turf field at Wedgbury Stadium located within Sportscore Two, which is part of Phase 1 of the Reclaiming First project. Phase 1 is estimated to cost just over $30 million, and is part of a multi-year initiative to retain, regain, and grow the valuable amateur sports tourism market.
Funding Sources (approximately):
• Municipal contributions: $11.58 million
- Winnebago County: $7 million approved
- Village of Cherry Valley: $10,000 received; $600,000 requested
- Village of Machesney Park: $50,000 received; $550,000 requested
- City of Loves Park: $3.38 million approved
• Hotel tax: $10.5 million
• Rockford Park District: $6 million
• 2014 Grant applications:
- State tourism grant of $641,899 - received
- Department of Natural Resources PARC grant of $2.5 million – received
"We are thankful for Governor Quinn's commitment to the Reclaiming First initiative, and his continued support of the Rockford region, which has long been recognized as a leader in the amateur sports market. The grant announcement kicks off the start of several construction related projects that will be built by local contractors with local labor, financed by local banks, and provide a significant impact to the local economy through additional tourism and permanent jobs. The multi-facility, multi-year project will stimulate our regional economy and provide world-class recreational facilities to our citizens," said Rockford Park District Executive Director Tim Dimke.
Phase One of Reclaiming First Construction Projects Begins!
The modernization of Sportscore Two begins with upgrades to Wedgbury Stadium, making it the premier sports tournament destination. These improvements will exceed current industry standards, which will aid in attracting even more international and national competitions and tournaments. The new state-of-the-art facility will allow the Rockford Park District to seek a FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) certificate. FIFA standards for sports turf systems are designed to ensure that a consistent world-class standard of surface is available internationally.
Wedgbury Stadium Project Highlights:
• New synthetic turf field, highest quality in the market today, providing a more reliable playing surface that is less affected by weather. The turf does not have an extended recovery time for playability after rain, and it attains playability earlier in the spring and remains playable later into the fall.
• New lighting system – NCAA professional level
• New pathways and restroom building
• Upgrades to bleachers and press box
"The recent approvals to move forward with phase one of the Reclaiming First initiative is a huge accomplishment for the Rockford region. We are well on our way to creating more than 250 more jobs, and generating an additional estimated $15 million into the local economy by attracting more local, regional, national, and international sports events to our region. We are moving in the right direction, and we thank all who have believed in the possibilities," said RACVB President and CEO John Groh.
Additional Sportscore Two/Indoor Sports Center (ISC) Improvements:
• Modernization of Sportscore Two – adding five turf and multi-purpose lighted fields, along with installation of turf and new lighting in the Wedgbury soccer stadium
• Expanding Indoor Sports Center - retrofit the existing structure from one to two indoor soccer fields. and expand the building to include four new indoor soccer fields, creating a total of five fields at one location
The multi-sport fields and indoor facility will be designed, constructed, and completed for opening by Spring 2015. Construction on Wedgbury Stadium is expected to be complete by fall 2014.
More Information About Wedgbury Soccer Stadium
Sportscore Two is home to Wedgbury Stadium, which seats 2,500 spectators, and has hosted IHSA State High School Soccer Finals, pro football games, National Rugby Finals, college rugby championships, professional soccer games with international teams from Mexico, and USSL W. League Soccer Men's and Women's Finals. The stadium is named in honor of Donald "Doc" Wedgbury's father, Russell.
About Reclaiming First
Reclaiming First is a community-wide comprehensive plan to enhance and enlarge the sports facilities in the Rockford area to reclaim the region's dominance in sports tourism. The plan will retain, regain, and grow sports tourism in an increasingly competitive market vying for sports tourism dollars, and provide world class amateur sports tournament facilities for Rockford area residents. Amateur sports tourism at Sportscore One and Sportscore Two currently accounts for $15.25 million in income for the Rockford region that would otherwise not occur. Local municipalities receive an estimated $1.8 million in the form of direct additional general fund tax revenue from amateur sports tournaments. Further, income generated from amateur sports tournaments means local citizens are able to use these facilities at reduced or no cost.
The Winnebago County Regional Tourism Facility Board formed to administer the hotel tax includes chief elected officials and staff leaders from the Rockford Park District, Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, City of Rockford, City of Loves Park, Village of Machesney Park, City of South Beloit, Village of Rockton, Village of Roscoe, Village of Cherry Valley, and Winnebago County. For additional information on Reclaiming First, see www.reclaimingfirst.org.