LOVES PARK, IL – Dream It! Build It! Achieve It! Olympic soccer stars Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly, and Tisha Venturini Hoch led various key leaders and organizations in a ceremonial first kick symbolizing the opening of the expanded Indoor Sports Center (ISC), 8800 E. Riverside Blvd., Loves Park.
The City of Rockford, Rockford Park District (RPD), Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (RACVB), and Winnebago County Regional Tourism Facility Board (WCTFB) celebrated the completion of the Indoor Sports Center expansion and improvements which are the final steps to retain, regain, and grow the sports tourism market and provide world class athletic facilities for residents throughout the region.
Construction started last summer on the ISC expansion building, adding one full-size enclosed soccer field, connector building at the main entrance, various renovations to the existing Indoor Sports Center, and reconfiguring site access. The expansion is a 133,000-square-foot sports building situated to the east of the existing Indoor Sports Center building. At 420 feet long, 300 feet wide, and 70 feet high, the ISC expansion is one of the largest sports complexes in the Midwest. The indoor playing field is a synthetic turf field with paved spectator areas on either side of the field. A series of large curtains runs across the long and short centerlines of the building to further subdivide the space into four multi-purpose activity areas. Sustainable features include: radiant floor heating, LED lighting, 360-degree natural lighting, air destratification, demand control ventilation, lighting controls, and low flush toilets.
A new connector building includes a main lobby area, convenient concession area, and restrooms. Renovations to the existing ISC building included 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. “Last year, 2,884,713 guests visited our Mercyhealth Sportscore Complexes. Enhancing and enlarging this top tourist destination allows us to bring even more teams to town, and capture a greater share of the sports tourism market to reclaim first, along with improving the general health and well-being of the citizens of Winnebago County,” said Rockford Park District Executive Director Tim Dimke. “The addition of these new indoor multi-use fields for soccer, softball, baseball, football, lacrosse, and other turf field related programs sets us apart and takes weather out of the equation.”
Additional Improvements at Mercyhealth Sportscore Two (MHSC2) Campus:
- Five multi-purpose lighted fields increased the overall areas of play to 26 full-size outdoor soccer fields at Mercyhealth Sportscore Two. The complex now has 2,000 paved parking spots, 3 outdoor sand volleyball courts, and new pavilion area.
- Wedgbury Stadium improvements included a new synthetic turf field, the highest quality in the market today, providing a more reliable playing surface that is less affected by weather. 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 improvements also included:
- New lighting system – NCAA professional level
- New pathways and restroom building
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 Mercyhealth Sportscore One and Mercyhealth Sportscore Two currently accounts for $15.25 million in income for the Rockford region that would otherwise not occur. When all Reclaiming First facilities are fully operating, amateur sports tourism will exceed $30 million annually. Further, income generated from amateur sports tournaments means local citizens are able to use these facilities at reduced or no cost.
This community-wide comprehensive plan required the joint effort of regional municipalities and state legislative members who pushed the authorization and implementation of a 2% hotel/motel tax to help fund the sports complexes’ expansion and the institution of the Winnebago County Regional Tourism Facility Board (WCRTFB), which 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. The WCRTFB was formed to administer the hotel tax that helped fund the Reclaiming First initiative. In addition to formal approval of the hotel tax by each WCRTFB member entity, financial pledges were also made from their operational budgets, including $7 million from Winnebago County, $10 million from the City of Rockford, $10 million in state of Illinois grants (including a $2.5 million PARC grant and $641,899 tourism grant), $9 million from Rockford Park District, $3.38 million from Loves Park, $75,000 from Machesney Park, and $20,000 from Cherry Valley. WCRTFB members are also providing in-kind support to the project, such as Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau marketing to attract major tournaments and conventions, County of Winnebago administrating collection of the hotel tax, and the City of Rockford managing design, construction, and funding for UW Health Sports Factory. “Over the past eight years we’ve talked a lot out what it takes to raise our game in the amateur sports tourism and recreation industry. Today’s opening of the expanded Indoor Sports Center marks the completion of the final phase of our original Reclaiming First vision and we should celebrate this momentous occasion. Rockford and Loves Park are looked to as model communities for providing recreational facilities for residents and visitors,” said John Groh, RACVB president/CEO. “RACVB was honored to work alongside many partners in making today’s opening possible. Our board and staff look forward to the continuation of these partnerships as we work to fulfill the promise of Reclaiming First – that being retaining, regaining and growing the positive long-term impacts sports tourism will have on our communities, residents and the economy.” For additional information on Reclaiming First, see www.reclaimingfirst.org.
Construction Costs for Mercyhealth Sportscore Two Campus Improvements
Construction costs for Mercyhealth Sportscore Two campus improvements were just over $30 million. 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 artificial turf field at Wedgbury Stadium.
In December 2015, the Rockford Park District and Mercyhealth announced a 10-year agreement totaling $2 million, with an annual contribution of approximately $200,000, and includes naming rights to the Mercyhealth Sportscore One and Mercyhealth Sportscore Two campuses, including logo incorporation within exterior signage, print materials, web exposure, and the opportunity for Mercyhealth employees to utilize the Mercyhealth Sportscore Two campus. “The Rockford Park District is a tremendous partner, and we are proud to work together for the health and well-being of the Rockford community. It’s been exciting to watch the expansion of Mercyhealth Sportscore Two as the Mercyhealth Women’s and Children’s Hospital and Medical Center Campus across the road on Riverside Boulevard comes to life,” said Javon R. Bea, Mercyhealth President and CEO.
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 ($1.25 million received)
Mercyhealth Sportscore Two (MHSC2) 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 Mercyhealth Sportscore Two including Wedgbury Stadium, and Illinois Office of Tourism announces $641,899 for Reclaiming First
- April 2015 - Wedgbury Stadium improvements completed
- Fall 2015 - Construction begins on five new turf fields at Mercyhealth Sportscore Two
- 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
- June 2016 – Completion of five new multi-purpose turf fields at Mercyhealth Sportscore Two, along with a new pavilion area complete with concession and restroom building
- Summer 2016 - Construction begins on Indoor Sports Center expansion
- October 2016 – Topping off ceremony held to place final beam on ISC expansion building