From basketball to softball, soccer to track, and gymnastics to wrestling, we’ve "got game" when it comes to hosting sporting events. The Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Peoria Area Sports Commission know this is a fast-growing market segment for us. We believe so strongly in its potential that we’ve structured a new department: Sports Sales & Development.
We’ve designed a structure that will enable us to use the strength of our Peoria Area Sports Commission, along with the marketing expertise of the PACVB, to create a combination of skills that will launch us forward with a greater focus on bringing new athletic events to the Peoria area, as well as providing a higher level of support and service for existing events.
We already have a strong foundation. The Peoria area has a proven track record in hosting events such as IHSA Boys Basketball Class A and AA March Madness Tournaments, the National Softball Association tournaments, River City Soccer Classic, St. Jude Benefit Gymnastics Meet, and many more. With the help of the Illinois Valley Striders, we host the world renowned Steamboat Classic and the Steamboat Festival. We’re home to the NCAA Regional Cross Country Meet, Illinois Elementary School Association’s State Track & Field Meet, and the Illinois High School Association State Cross Country Meet. We’re tapping into competitions for cheerleading, baseball, and even the United States Pony Club.
Sports contribute a significant economic impact to our area. IHSA Boys Basketball brought in approximately $6 million this spring. Last summer, more than 800 National Softball Association teams created, conservatively, more than $3.5 million in direct area expenditures. With youth sports, entire families come to the tournaments. Families spend more than typical tourists because they’re celebrating their children’s talents, spending vacation time for the trip, and looking for ways to create memories.
Our Sports Commission members are a tremendous group; they connect us with the right contacts to pursue new business, volunteer for many of these events, share information about what to see and do in the area, and provide invaluable service to athletic event planners. They’re the ultimate team.
What does the future hold for sports in the Peoria area? We’ll strategically pursue new business for existing facilities, provide top-notch service for athletic planners who hold their tournaments here, and build a strong reputation based on our proven track record and the relationships we develop with event planners. We’ll also review our inventory of athletic venues and pursue the development of needed facilities. For instance, we know if we had a regulation-size swimming pool, we could host the IHSA swimming tournament. We also know we would qualify for many adult softball and baseball tournaments if we had another complex similar to EastSide Centre. We know that, with the Civic Center re-development, we’ll have the necessary space to attract more gymnastics, wrestling, and cheerleading events.
With the right combination of talent, venues, and marketing, the Peoria area will establish itself as the destination for youth and adult sports. Athletes of all types will see that, yes, Peoria’s "got game." IBI