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Armstrong: IHSA Destination DeKalb economic impact recap

One of the biggest events we were involved with last year was the IHSA state football championship weekend, which took place Nov. 29 and 30 at Huskie Stadium.

While we can only estimate the impact that this event had on our local economy, we can share some concrete numbers now that we’ve had time to gather them from other hospitality partners.

The DeKalb County Convention and Visitors Bureau Board thanks all the members of the IHSA Destination DeKalb Host Committee. Without their planning, fundraising, enthusiasm and endless hours of work, none of this would have been possible.

Here’s what we know:

• At least 425 hotel room nights were booked for the event

• 30,000 visitors attended ... that was up from the 26,800 reported for 2013

• Some local restaurants reported a 35 percent to 40 percent increase in sales from the previous Thanksgiving weekend

• Gas stations reported an increase in sales from the previous year

• The DeKalb Oasis estimated they did twice the business in gas and food

• We tripled our average monthly website traffic for visitors and page views

• The comments that we received from the IHSA officials, teams, fans, news media and other community members were very complimentary with regard to venue, hospitality and volunteers.

• Approximately 6,000 people visited the community hospitality tent in the Spirit Zone

• More than 200 community volunteers represented DeKalb County as tourism ambassadors

All in all, we scored big with our first IHSA state championship weekend. We feel confident that the economic impact was at least $800,000 based on the data gathered and estimates that the Illinois Office of Tourism has provided to help gauge the economic impact of sporting events. The estimate included indirect and direct spending on hotels, food, gas, facility rental, tent suppliers, catering and other services provided by people taking part in or attending the event.

The weekend proved to be a powerful economic engine that resulted in invaluable publicity and visibility for DeKalb County and Northern Illinois University.

The next time we host is Nov. 27 and 28, 2015. We look forward to another successful and profitable event. The community pride that was displayed was priceless.

2014 Visitor Guides

The cover of this year’s visitor’s guide is a photo of Jonamac Orchard that was supplied by Bob Kyler Photography. Our thanks to both Bob and Jonamac for allowing us to showcase the photo.

We already have shipped more than 11,000 guides. Approximately 5,000 went to CTM distribution, a tourism rack card distribution company contracted to help attract visitors to DeKalb County. They display our guides and rack cards in their kiosks throughout Chicagoland, Wisconsin and the Quad Cities.

The bureau has a paid partnership with several high traffic oasis sites as well. Our guides are available at the Belvidere, DeKalb, Des Planes and Hinsdale oasis kiosks.

Area municipality partners, hotels, NIU and the Convocation Center all have guides.

Local attractions and tourism partners should call 815-756-1336 to make arrangements to pick up the new guides for distribution.

We can’t list all the events that could attract visitors in the guide because of limited space. We do, however, try to list as many county events as possible online at Dates for events are always subject to change. We encourage everyone to check our website calendar of events when planning a visit.

• Debbie Armstrong is executive director of the DeKalb County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

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