Major Milestone Celebration to Recognize Completion of First Phase of Mercyhealth Sportscore Two Expansion

LOVES PARK, IL – The Rockford Park District, Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Mercyhealth, and Winnebago County Regional Tourism Facility Board reached another huge milestone in the effort to retain, regain, and grow amateur sports tourism market and provide world class athletic facilities for residents throughout the region.  A ceremonial first Frisbee throw took place to symbolize the completion of Phase 1 construction, which included: five new multi-purpose turf fields at Mercy Sportscore 2, along with a new pavilion area complete with concession and restroom building, and improvements to Wedgbury Stadium. 

“Weather is no longer a factor, thanks to the addition of these new multi-use fields for soccer, softball, baseball, football, lacrosse, and other turf field related programs.  These fields dry quickly, can be configured in multiple ways, and are well-lit, meaning more games can be played during the evening hours.  Completion of Phase 1 means we are well on our way to the ultimate goal of Reclaiming First to make the Rockford area the number one regional amateur sports city,” said Rockford Park District Executive Director Tim Dimke.  

Phase 1 construction began with upgrades to Wedgbury Stadium, making it the premier sports tournament destination.   These improvements exceed current industry standards, and will aid in attracting even more international and national competitions and tournaments. The new state-of-the-art facility allowed 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

Additional Improvements to Mercy Sportscore 2

Five multi-purpose lighted fields increased the overall areas of play to 26 soccer fields at MercySportscore 2. The complex now has 2,000 paved parking spots, 3 outdoor sand volleyball courts, and new pavilion area. 

Phase 1 construction cost just over $30 million, and is part of a multi-year plan to enhance and enlarge the sports facilities in the Rockford area to reclaim the region’s dominance in sports.  A grant in the amount of $641,899 from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Tourism Attraction Development Program helped pay for replacing natural turf with an artificial turf field at Wedgbury Stadium.  

Construction Begins on Mega Sports Center

Construction started this summer on the Mega Sports Center (MSC), a major addition to the existing Mercy Indoor Sports Center.  The project involves the addition of a large enclosed soccer field, connector building at the main entrance, renovation of the existing Indoor Sports Center, and the reconfiguration of site access.  The Mega Sports Center expansion is a    133,000-square-foot sports building situated to the east of the existing Indoor Sports Center (ISC) building. The indoor playing field is a synthetic turf field with paved spectator areas on either side of the field.  A combination of dasher boards and netting will protect the major spectator area from action on the field. A series of large curtains running across the long and short centerlines of the building can be used to further subdivide the space into four activity areas. 

The connector building will provide a transition between the different floor elevations of ISC and MSC, as well as a prominent identifiable entrance. The connector building will include a main lobby area, convenient concession services, and restrooms. Renovations to the current ISC building include upgrades to the existing dasher boards in the west section, tread replacement to existing mezzanine stairs, and replacing the floor area in the east portion with new synthetic turf.  
 
Upon completion, the site will be capable of hosting up to six simultaneous soccer games.  The Mega Sports Center will also be capable of hosting two softball games simultaneously.

About Reclaiming First
Reclaiming First is a community-wide comprehensive plan to 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 Mercy Sportscore 1 and Mercy Sportscore 2 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 board/council members and 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.

Mercy Sportscore 2 Reclaiming First Milestones
•    December 14, 2011 - Reclaiming First economic development case and master plan for sports tourism in the Rockford region published
•    2012 - Various local governments vote to support legislation to allow local implementation of  
hotel tax representing 97.6% of county residents
•    February 15, 2013 - Senate Bill 1859 introduced
•    August 12, 2013 - Illinois governor signs SB1859
•    January 1, 2014 - 2% hotel tax collection implemented
•    March 4, 2014 - Inaugural meeting of Winnebago County Regional Tourism Facility Board (WCRTFB) 
•    August 1, 2014 - Construction kick-off for Mercy Sportscore 2 (MSC2) including Wedgbury Stadium, and Illinois Office of Tourism announces $600,000 for Reclaiming First
•    April 2015 - Wedgbury Stadium improvements completed
•    Fall 2015 - Construction begins on five new turf fields at MSC2
•    December 2015 – Mercyhealth becomes new naming rights partner for Sportscore Complexes
•    Spring 2016 - Puma Cup tournament, 588 teams participate, an increase of 216 teams from last year
•    Summer 2016 - Construction begins on Mega Sports Center

Mercy Sportscore 2 Acknowledgements
Thank you to the following key players: 
Rockford Park District (RPD) Board of Commissioners and Staff
State Elected Officials: 
Senator Tim Bivins
Senator Steve Stadelman
Senator Dave Syverson
Representative John Cabello
Representative Bob Pritchard
Representative Joe Sosnowski
Representative Brian Stewart
Representative Litesa Wallace 

State of Illinois Agencies: 
IL Association of Park Districts
IL Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity
IL Park & Recreation Association 

Design, Construction, and Project Partners: 
Cooling Land Concepts
Custom Playgrounds, Inc. 
Hinshaw Consulting
JEM Morris Construction, Inc. 
Keifer USA
Larson & Darby Group
Larson & Larson Builders, Inc. 
McClure Engineering Associates, Inc. 
Northern Illinois Building Contractors Association
Northwestern Illinois Building Trades Unions
Profitable Food Facilities
RSC Electric
Sanders Design Group
Stenstrom Excavation and Blacktop Group
William Charles Construction
William Charles Electric Major 

Supporting Partners: 
Mercyhealth
Reclaiming First Advisory Committee Members
Rockford Area Economic Development Council
Rockford Area Hotel/Motel Association
Rockford Chamber of Commerce
Winnebago County Regional Tourism Facility Board (WCRTFB) Member Entities: 
– City of Loves Park
 – City of Rockford
– City of South Beloit
– County of Winnebago
– Village of Cherry Valley
– Village of Machesney Park
– Village of Rockton
– Village of Roscoe
– Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
– Rockford Park District (RPD)