Porter County seeks to boost economy with amateur sports

2013-06-27T17:43:00Z 2013-06-27T22:13:57Z Porter County seeks to boost economy with amateur sportsSUSAN EMERY Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
June 27, 2013 5:43 pm  • 

VALPARAISO | In its first official meeting Thursday, the Porter County Sports Cabinet heard details of study that will determine the county's suitability to host amateur sporting events and tournaments.

The group met in Valparaiso University's Harre Union and spoke by conference call with Bill Krueger, a director with Conventions, Sports & Leisure International, the firm conducting the sports and recreation facilities study.

Krueger said the study will take about three to four months to complete and will require interviews with representatives of sporting organizations and businesses in the county, as well as information about existing amateur athletic facilities and hotel accommodations. Cabinet members were asked to provide details on those items.

The 17-member cabinet includes officials with Indiana Dunes Tourism, the Porter County Plan Commission, Valparaiso parks officials and Valparaiso University.

Tourism board member Chuck Williams, who co-chairs the sports cabinet with fellow tourism board member Doug Olson, said the goal is to promote Porter County as a destination for amateur sports that will boost the local economy.

Outcomes could include enhancing existing sports facilities or developing new ones, he said.

The Porter County Board of Commissioners earlier this year approved the $142,000 study, which also will explore the feasibility of redeveloping the Expo Center and fairgrounds into a major entertainment, educational and activity-based complex.

The study will assess the market demand and supply for various sports and provide data the county can use to determine which sports to pursue. A key factor will be which sports generate the most revenue. Sports for both youths and adults will be considered.

Once the sports are determined, the cabinet will break into subcommittees that focus on those individual areas and recruit people with the expertise to lead them.

Lorelei Weimer, Indiana Dunes Tourism executive director, said a website and Facebook page will be created to provide information to the public about the effort, and there will be opportunities for input.

“It's really important to understand what we have and where we can go,” she said.

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