VALPARAISO | The Porter County Board of Commissioners announced plans Tuesday to expand the local tourism board by two seats to go after the amateur sports market.
"It's a big business," Porter County Commissioner President John Evans said.
The new appointees, who are expected to be named at the next meeting in two weeks, will be charged with examining the organizational structure and focus of the Indiana Dunes Tourism bureau to identify what changes are needed to grow the opportunities for venues that can bring thousands to the county, he said.
The Lake Michigan shoreline will continue to be the county's greatest natural asset and the new board members will look at ways of enhancing the visitor experience, Evans said.
The new members will also be asked to form a subcommittee to look at the promotion and expansion of amateur sports events, he said. These events will include -- but are not limited to -- baseball, basketball, football, softball, swimming, hockey and soccer.
Participants in these sports travel the country, which offers economic opportunities for the county, Evans said. While the county has outdoor sporting fields, he said there will be a need to expand upon those and look at building indoor facilities such as a pool and hockey rink.
The proposed expansion of the tourism board would give the commissioners five of the 11 appointments, Evans said. The other appointments are made by various communities around the county.
In a related matter, Commissioner Laura Blaney, D-South, announced that there will be action soon on a new, 55-acre south county park at Ind. 49 and County Road 500 South.
In other business Tuesday, the commissioners gave unanimous initial approval to an ordinance prohibiting protests within 300 feet of a residence, cemetery, funeral home, place of worship or other establishment within one hour before or after a funeral or burial service.
Similar prohibitions were passed recently by the towns of Hebron and Porter.
Members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., who have held anti-gay protests at various types of funerals over the years, have made a few appearances throughout the region and south suburbs of Chicago.