I readily admit to not being very athletic, and my experience in the sports arena is limited. But I do enjoy getting out for various sports outings—whether baseball, basketball or hockey—as well as recreational activities like golf, hiking and boating. The best news is: whether you’re a casual fan or a hardcore enthusiast, you can find what suits you right here in Greater Peoria!
With professional baseball and hockey, college and high school athletics, and runs and races for individuals of all ages and abilities, our region has so much to offer. From the Louisville Slugger Complex and Wildlife Prairie Park to Dozer Park and the Civic Center, our facilities are world-class. So is our Peoria Park District, with its four gold medals—the most prestigious honor attainable by a park-and-recreation agency. Our golf courses are award-winning, and with a pair of new indoor facilities (BigShots Golf and The Yard) in the works, there’s even more on the way.
Our region hosts some of the nation’s most prestigious running events. Peoria was already on the map for Steamboat Classic, Race for the Cure and St. Jude Runs, while Running Central and its sister company, ShaZam Racing, have extended this legacy even further with the PNC Peoria Marathon and River City Races, among many others. We have sailboat races through the IVY Club, taking advantage of our greatest asset: the Illinois River. And if even a handful of the concepts for Peoria’s new waterfront park—unveiled last month by the Downtown Development Corporation—come to fruition, more opportunities to engage with the river lie ahead.
Several months ago, I attended a Bradley basketball game and was able to get to know the university’s new president, Gary Roberts, and his wife, Donna. Roberts has an extensive sports background, having worked with the likes of the National Football League, World Championship Tennis and the Court of Arbitration for Sport—which made news recently by upholding the Rio Olympics’ ban on Russia’s track and field teams. Learn more about Roberts’ fascinating background here.
Sports and recreation is a vast industry, one whose impact on the regional economy could well approach $100 million in 2016, as longtime race director and businessman Philip Lockwood notes in this issue. And not only is it a matter of “dollars and sense,” it’s also about quality of life. For that, we are quite fortunate. iBi