Indoor Sports Center
The Mercyhealth Sportscore Two Indoor Sports Center is at 8800 E. Riverside Blvd., Loves Park. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)
By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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LOVES PARK — The city has entered a new deal with the Rockford Park District to promote sports tourism and bring thousands of athletes and visitors to Loves Park.

The city will pay the Park District a maximum of $250,000 a year from its hotel taxes this year and in 2025 under the terms of the agreement. The city will provide 80% of the first quarter-million dollars in hotel taxes it receives and then 50% of the next $100,000 until the max is hit.

The Park District will use the revenue to host and market tournaments that bring visitors and overnight guests to the city.

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City Council members voted 8-0 on Monday to approve the agreement. First Ward Alderman Dan Jacobson abstained from the vote because he works for the Park District. Alderman Clint Little was absent. A previous agreement with the Park District provided a maximum $200,000 annually.

Loves Park is home to one of the region’s biggest sports tourism attractions in Mercyhealth Sportscore Two and the Indoor Sports Center, 8800 E. Riverside Blvd.

There were 33 tournaments there last year and 20 additional events, according to a presentation from the Park District. The biggest of those draws includes the Puri Cup tournaments, which take place over multiple weekends and bring in roughly 20,000 people, and the Team Illinois Lacrosse Showcase, which brings in roughly 7,000 people, according to the Park District.

The tournaments generate business for local restaurants and hotels and generate revenue for the city.

“They’re obviously a great partner,” Mayor Greg Jury said. “(General Manager) Louis Mateus and his crew out at Sportscore bring thousands of people to the community of Loves Park and our hotels.”

Loves Park is part of the Rockford Park District. Some of the district’s latest projects in the city include revitalizing Shorewood Park to support the Loves Park Ski Broncs, a new playground and other improvements at Wantz Park, a new playground and other upgrades coming to Wentland Sports Complex and a new playground and picnic area at Mercyhealth Sportscore Two.

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The city chose to work with the Rockford Park District to promote sports tourism after ending its agreement with the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau in September 2020. The contract with the visitors bureau had been worth roughly $1.5 million over 10 years. Loves Park wanted more direct control over how its tourism dollars are spent in the city.

“As the destination marketing organization for Winnebago County, we certainly hope that there will be an opportunity in the future to fully reengage with the city of Loves Park to represent them and work proactively and fully to bring visitors to the city of Loves Park,” said John Groh, president and CEO of the visitors bureau.

Groh said the bureau continues to collaborate with the Park District and the city of Loves Park on some events. For example, men’s and women’s bowling tournaments will be held over the course of seven weekends at Cherry Bowl in Cherry Valley, Don Carter in Rockford and Park Lanes in Loves Park.

The visitors bureau is also working with the Park District on a volleyball tournament this weekend at the UW Health Sports Factory in downtown Rockford. The tournament will have overflow courts at the Indoor Sports Center in Loves Park.

“We believe that a rising tide lifts all boats, and sports tourism is an important economic driver for Winnebago County,” Groh said.

This article is by Kevin Haas. Email him at or follow him on X at @KevinMHaas or Instagram @thekevinhaas and Threads @thekevinhaas

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