The DuPage Sports Commission is on the Move with a Focus on Community | Sports Destination Management

The DuPage Sports Commission is on the Move with a Focus on Community

Apr 15, 2024 | By: SDM Editorial Team
If you don't know where DuPage County is, it's time you did

If you don’t know where DuPage County is, it’s time you did. DuPage County has become a frequent name when it comes to big-time events, much in part due to the efforts of the DuPage Sports Commission (DSC). At the heart of DSC’s decision-making is who they can impact, how they can inspire and the meaningful opportunities they can create. The last few years, and even looking at a small snapshot of 2024, DSC has opened the door to new opportunities for its local community and regional athletes and remains on the move.

Located 20 miles west of Chicago, DuPage County embodies the best of sports: more than 100 years of sports tradition paired with Chicago’s renowned sports culture. It is a mix of enthusiasm and sophistication that is undeniable. From its launch in 2019, DSC knew there was a need for more sports in DuPage County. With one million residents and nearly 10 million people in the greater Chicago metropolitan area, DuPage’s location and geographic reach made it the perfect place to advance programming for youth and amateur athletics. At a time when many parents were driving long distances for tournaments, the timing was right to ensure athletes and families had more premier events hosted in their own backyard.

If you don't know where DuPage County is, it's time you didWith a strategic plan in hand, sports roared forward, with DSC doing business as it knows best — building authentic connections in the sporting world while listening and learning from the people and community it serves.

Fast forward to 2024.

In February, DSC and the Illinois Target Archery Association (ITAA) celebrated their successful collaboration to elevate the sport of archery in Illinois. Their combined efforts resulted in DuPage County becoming one of 15 locations to host a USA Archery Indoor Nationals. This was the first time in decades the event was hosted in Illinois, and a first for DuPage. They welcomed 127 archers to the USA Archery JOAD National Championships (JOAD standing for Junior Olympic Archery Development); and 195 archers to the 55th USA Archery Indoor Nationals.

“Together, DSC and ITAA built out a complete package for this event, and what a tremendous result for the local archery community,” said ITAA’s President Dave Schaefer. “This event became a point of pride for players and placed Illinois archery on the map as never before.” The top eight archers merged from each Indoor Nationals location competed on March 14, 2024 at the 2024 USA Archery Indoor Nationals Final in Louisville, Kentucky.

The weekend following the archery event, DSC launched its Inaugural Midwest Esports Tournament (MEI) — a direct result from listening to gamers and esports professionals share their needs for competition and community. MEI welcomed 28 collegiate teams from eight Midwest states to compete in its collegiate invitational. “The Midwest Esports Invitational gives our region a muchneeded event across multiple titles and the professional feel of the tournament created a memorable experience for our students,” said Michigan State University Director of Esports Christopher Bilski.

MEI also featured a Smash Open which invited high school gamers to compete against one another and the collegiate level players. This component was all about inspiring local youth and creating connections where they may have least expected it. The result was a successful gathering applauded for its socialization, peer recognition and sense of belonging.

If you don't know where DuPage County is, it's time you did“The Midwest Esports Invitational is a catalyst for growth in the Chicago esports community, fostering competitive spirit and camaraderie,” said Mark Smithivas, a parent of a high school esports player. “Its impact extends beyond Chicago, setting the stage for the Midwest to emerge as a vibrant hub for esports. I left energized, seeing the opportunities for players, coaches and parents who are building the ecosystem around esports as a new industry. MEI will be an important destination event in the years to come for others to connect, collaborate and grow this endeavor."

A few short weeks later, a USA Water Polo Olympic Development Program National Championship (Boys) was hosted in DuPage for the first time.

“While the Midwest certainly has a water polo following, other areas like California have always been at the core of the water polo community,” said DSC Director of Sports Igor Bakovic. “What an opportunity for local water polo players to experience an event of this level in their own community. These are the building blocks for athletes and families, and also building blocks for a governing body to achieve a broader reach. It was a win all around.”

We look forward to more “firsts” as DSC continues with its momentum. To learn more, contact DSC Director of Sports Igor Bakovic at or visit

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