A major state wrestling tournament could help Rockford pin down the money it needs to make a downtown sports complex reality. The Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau is already marketing the Ingersoll building. That's the future site of the complex.
The funding to transform it still needs to be worked out but the convention and visitors bureau wants other major players in the sports industry to know it can replicate what it's providing this weekend.
More than 1500 parents, kids and coaches are at the BMO Harris Bank Center for the Illinois Kids Wrestling Federation. It's the state wrestling tournament for kids ages 10 to 14. Despite warning of potential traffic back-ups even first time visitors say no problems.
"I think its very nice. I think the tournament is very well run. We parked, I mean it was a little bit further away but it wasn't too crazy."
"What you see on the streets today, we worked very closely with the City of Rockford, the police department to make sure there was an appropriate level of police officers on the streets directing traffic. We worked very closely with the organizers and the teams that are coming in to make sure they had maps and which were the preferred parking locations," says John Groh, RACVB president and CEO.
They had shuttles to help get people from remote parking lots. Plus, police were on-hand to direct traffic and get pedestrians to the BMO. John Groh says the RACVB is ready to do the same things at Ingersoll.
The RACVB didn't wait to try to strike up future business either. It toured USA Wrestling, which accredits the state tournament, through the site. Though Rockford would have to bid to get any of USA Wrestling tournaments.
"They understand the value of the tournament. They understand the value to the wrestling community here. Rockford has been incredibly accommodating and that's something we would expect would continue and our members, our athletes and coaches would in the hotels and restaurants get the same amount of service they are getting now," Tony Black, USA Wrestling, director of state services.
Rockford City Council still has to approve the final funding. If approved the downtown sports complex would open late next year.