Soon-to-be sports facilities already increasing demand for more - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Soon-to-be sports facilities already increasing demand for more hotels

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ROCKFORD (WREX) -

The Rockford area is home to about 3,000 hotel rooms, according to the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.  Two sports tourism facilities haven't even opened yet and some say there already aren't enough places for visiting teams to stay overnight.

"We did look out in our projections and could see a time where we would need the market to add new hotel rooms.  We're there a little earlier and that's not a bad thing," says RACVB President John Groh.

It might be a good problem to have: more out-of-towners looking to spend time and money in the Rockford area, but possibly not enough places for them to stay.  Athletic teams are booking tournaments at Rockford's UW Health Sports Factory, 30 are scheduled already, and they're booking hotel rooms as well.

"That is without question going to bring a lot of demand to this marketplace," says First Midwest Group President Sunil Puri.

Puri owns two hotels on the city's far east side.  He says he's not interested in building one near the sports factory, but wants to see more progress when it comes to downtown hotels.

"I don't think there is room for a third hotel downtown.  Two have been announced we want to see those happen," Puri says.

The sports factory opens up in two weeks and construction just started for the Mega Sports Center in Loves Park, which will consist of indoor soccer fields slated to open next year.  That location could create a need for a new hotel near I90.

"We hope if everything works out we will announce one soon," Puri says.

The RACVB says hundreds of more hotel rooms are needed citywide for future events that will be booked at these facilities.  Showing consistent demand could get the ball rolling.

"If we can help bring in more business weekdays as well as weekends, that demonstrates more to developers and owners, not just of hotels but restaurants, retailers, other hospitality businesses," Groh says.

The RACVB says if a new hotel were to break ground tomorrow, at the earliest it would be done by next summer.

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