Category Archives: Tourism

Normal to host another ASA national softball tournament in 2011

Normal’s bid to host another national softball tournament  hit the jackpot in Reno, Nevada.

Normal Parks and Recreation and the Bloomington-Normal Area Convention and Visitors Bureau staff report that Normal was awarded the 2011  ASA Women’s Under 18 national championships to be played at Champion Fields.  image002

With stiffer competition for championship softball tournaments, the winning bid demonstrates the quality of our tournament staff, our fields, and the hospitality of our community.    Normal beat out a number of other larger cities.

This year’s women’s 18 and under tournament attracted 144 teams.    In late July and early August of 2011, as many as 1,500 players, their coaches, and family members will stay several days here and  generate lots of business for the entire area.

A Pantagraph sports story from this past summer’s tournament indicated that travel softball families aren’t afraid to spend money even in a tight economy.

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Welcome ASA softball to Normal

Every other year, the Town of Normal throws out the welcome mat to about 100 of the best ASA girls softball teams in the country. 

This year the Under 12 year-old girls teams are competing at one of the nation’s best softball tournament venues — Champion Fields at Maxwell Park in Normal — for the national fastpitch softball championship.

Eighty-eight teams from New Jersey to California and from Oregon to Texas are staying in the area, spending money in hotels, restaurants, and retailers and enjoying our pleasant July weather.   softball

The Town’s Parks and Recreation Department and dozens of other Town employees and community volunteers work for weeks to prepare the fields, make hotel assignments, and create the best possible experiences for the hundreds of players, coaches, and family members.

The Bloomington and Normal Convention and Visitors Bureau also plays a very important role in hosting the event. 

Tonight’s opening ceremonies at ISU’s Hancock Stadium highlighted each of the teams and featured a performance by Quick Change, the couple with one of the biggest functioning wardrobes.

Pool play starts bright and early Monday morning and the tournament continues through Aug. 2.

Good luck to our local teams, the BNGSA Angels U11 and BNGSA Angels U12.

These tournaments demonstrate the value of youth amateur sports in economic development in our community and how important outstanding sports venues like Champion Fields are to our local tourism infrastructure.

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Good luck Crowne Plaza developers

We learned this morning that Crowne Plaza developer Devang Patel wants to terminate his agreement with the Town of Normal for the multi-million redevelopment of a Crowne Plaza Hotel and Conference Center.  

The item will be on next Monday night’s Normal Town Council agenda.

In a way, it’s a relief.  jan-2009-just-about-normal-004

It means they will attempt to complete the work without any tax increment financing assistance from the Town which would have come in the form of hotel-motel tax rebates after the property opened for business.

The developers told the Pantagraph they are confident they can  attract  private investors to the project. 

In the end, Normal Hospitality, LLC could not meet Wednesday’s deadline for submitting paperwork demonstrating that the company fulfilled its obligation under state TIF law to pay prevailing wages to all construction workers on the job. 

Now, Patel and Normal Hospitality, LLC, their general contractor and their sub contractors will be free to hire anyone they want for whatever wage.

In the meantime, their check for the water bill on the construction site has yet to clear, so the water remains off at the Crowne Plaza.

They appear fairly close to finishing the project.  Let’s hope they can pull it off.

As an insurance policy, we probably ought to keep the TIF district in place, just in case the current developers stumble and someone else ends up owning the property.

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IHSA Competitive Cheerleading Finals fills area hotels, restaurants, shops

The Illinois High School Association’s fourth annual High School Competitive Cheerleading Finals is being held this weekend at U.S. Cellular Coliseum.  The event features 100 cheerleading squads competing for a state championship trophy.

But no matter which team takes home the title, our community ends up a winner. 

The Normal Community West High School Wildcat cheerleaders compete Friday night in the IHSA State Competitive Cheerleading Finals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum.   The Wildcats placed 23rd in the coed competition.

The Normal Community West High School Wildcat cheerleaders compete Friday night in the IHSA State Competitive Cheerleading Finals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum. The Wildcats placed 23rd in the coed competition.

About 8,000 cheerleaders, coaches, moms, dads, brothers and sisters are expected to attend.    The Bloomington and Normal Area Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates that the event will translate into 1,500 room nights.  

That’s the equivalent of filling 15, 100-room hotels for one night.

Using a conservative formula that estimates how much the average visitor spends in a day, the Bureau believes the cheerleading finals will have a direct economic impact of $750,000 for the weekend.  

In addition to increased receipts at hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and general merchandise stores, many of those dollars come back as tax revenue.   The best kind of taxes are the ones paid by somebody else.  

Cheerleading is growing in popularity, and our community is fortunate to be the first and only host community of the state championships.   We appreciate IHSA’s decision to keep this competition here. 

As a member of the BNCVB board of directors, I recognize tourism is an important industry around here and that’s why it’s essential that we continue to improve our local tourism infrastructure.   One of the nation’s finest amateur softball complexes, Champion Fields,  will host the ASA Girls 12 and under national fastpitch softball championship this summer, drawing about 100 teams.   Some teams will play here several days.  

The 12-and-under age bracket also attracts their parents, grandparents, and siblings.   The Town of Normal is looking forward to hosting this event and has developed a well earned reputation as an excellent host community for championship softball. 

While not all events are as glamorous as an IHSA or ASA championship, a visitor is a visitor, and we welcome each and every one of them.

Enjoy your stay.

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Filed under Bloomington-Normal Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Tourism