The Rockford region is set to welcome amateur sports enthusiasts this weekend with three separate sports bringing visitors from across the nation to various local sports facilities. These visitors will bring an estimated total of $2.8 million in economic spending while in the region.
The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Volleyball Grand Prix, National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division III Men’s Basketball Championship and the Illinois Kids Wrestling Foundation (IKWF) State Championship will all call Rockford home March 9 – 13. After a pause on activities due to the pandemic, the region is looking forward to hosting these tournaments, filling our venues, hotels and restaurants with guests.
The AAU Volleyball Grand Prix features 160 teams competing in several age divisions from 10 – 18 years old. The main competition location is the UW Health Sports Factory, with a few matches also held at various high schools to accommodate the large size of the tournament. Winners compete for the chance for entry into the AAU National Championships in Orlando, FL. The tournament is expected to fill roughly 950 hotel room nights and bring an estimated economic impact of $675,000 to the region and runs March 11 – 13.
The Rockford Park District plays a vital role as a host and partner for this tournament and helps the event run smoothly, ensuring families who come to visit our city are welcomed and well taken care of.
“We are always thrilled when we can host an AAU tournament at our facility and introduce many new faces to UW Health Sports Factory and all that we can do under one roof. It’s also exciting when we can welcome back a repeat tournament that attracts teams from all over the Midwest to our community, allowing local athletes to compete against great teams in front of their friends and family right here in Rockford,” said Derek Papich, UW Health Sports Factory program supervisor.
Wrestlers from around the state will travel to Rockford to participate in the IKWF State Championship. This tournament draws 1,000 wrestlers and their families to the BMO Harris Bank Center. Wrestlers qualify for the state championship by placing in the top three at their respective sectional tournaments. There are two divisions, novice and senior, and the tournament features a double-elimination bracket.
“This is one of our larger sports tournaments held in the region. It’s always a pleasure to see downtown full and work with our community partners at the BMO Harris Bank Center and our hotels to welcome this group,” said Lindsay Arellano, vice president of sales and service at the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The competition is expected to fill roughly 2,000 hotel room nights, bringing an estimated economic impact of over $1.3 million. Weigh-ins begin Thursday afternoon, and the competition lasts until Saturday, March 12.
Basketball players will round out the weekend with the NJCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Championship hosted by Rock Valley College. The tournament will consist of 12 teams from across the nation competing in a single-elimination bracket with consolation games. Games begin Wednesday, March 9 with the championship tipping off on Saturday, March 12 at 5 p.m. This tournament expects to fill 1,300 hotel room nights and will bring an estimated economic impact of $840,000 to the region. Rock Valley College’s men’s basketball team qualified for the tournament as the 8 seed and plays Wednesday, March 9 at 6 p.m.
“As our community’s college, we are always looking for ways to partner with other organizations for the good of the community,” said Rock Valley College Athletic Director Darin Monroe “We’re excited to be working with the RACVB to bring national championship college basketball to Rockford and we hope to work together with them to bring more exciting sporting events to the city in the future.”
In total, these combined events will fill an anticipated 4,250 hotel room nights and generate a total estimated economic impact of $2.8 million dollars helping provide jobs to area residents and through the generation of tax revenue support public services like fire, safety, public works and other needs.
NJCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Championship
March 9 – 12
Rock Valley College
RACVB exists to drive quality of life and economic growth for the citizens of Rockford and Winnebago County through tourism marketing and destination development. gorockford.com