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Thursday, 01 May 2014 00:00

Beloit working to bring sporting events to city

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Matt Bosen of Visit Beloit has been a major player in trying to bring sports and recreational events to the city of Beloit. That includes baseball and softball tournaments to the YMCA Sports Complex off Prairie Avenue, one of only two facilities in the state with eight diamonds in one location. Matt Bosen of Visit Beloit has been a major player in trying to bring sports and recreational events to the city of Beloit. That includes baseball and softball tournaments to the YMCA Sports Complex off Prairie Avenue, one of only two facilities in the state with eight diamonds in one location. Terry Mayer/Staff

STATELINE NEWS -- The toughest part is getting them to Beloit. After that, local officials are convinced that visiting teams and their supporters will come back -- and probably bring more of their family and friends.

Matt Bosen spent six years with the Beloit Snappers, the final two as general manager of the Class A franchise in the Midwest League, overseeing its transition from an affiliation with the Minnesota Twins to the Oakland A’s before the 2013 season.

Bosen accepted his current position as director of sales and servicing with Visit Beloit last November. His main task is to market Beloit and its athletic amenities to sports organizations around the state and across the Midwest in hopes of bringing their events and teams to the city.

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“I try to contact the national governing bodies and request meetings with them and show them what we do, with the idea of getting them to bring their tournaments to Beloit,” said Bosen, who has used the National Association of Sports Commissions as a big starting point. “A lot of it is informational and getting a lot of answers. There are so many teams and tournaments … many already are scheduled for this year, so we may not see the fruits of our labor on many of these things until 2015.”

Regardless of when they come, the bottom line is getting them here. And that helps the city’s bottom line and those of the host groups, such as the Stateline Family YMCA, which also has a Roscoe location.

“Visit Beloit is funded through local hotel taxes, and every room that we fill brings an average of $185 of revenue to the city, which includes not only the rooms, but the gas, food and other things that visitors buy while they’re here,” Bosen said. “Say a tournament involves 10 teams with 10 players each, then you have coaches and the kids’ families. That’s a huge injection into the local economy.”

This it is.

One of the city’s drawing cards is its great location between several metropolitan areas and access from major highways. However, another key is its topnotch facilities, especially for a city of its size.

John Roth has been Wisconsin’s director for the United States Specialty Sports Association, concentrating on fastpitch softball, and he said Beloit’s YMCA Sports Complex on Prairie Avenue is a huge reason why he was more than happy to add Beloit to his list of leading destinations this year.

“Their YMCA complex is one of only two places in the state that has eight diamonds at one location,” the Columbus resident said. “If you don’t have developed facilities, then you don’t get the support and they never get built. It takes time and people working together, so I try to temper expectations with reality. But Beloit has the infrastructure, and that gives you valuable opportunities. You need to provide quality events because you’re asking for a big commitment level from the teams.

“Columbus is a town of 5,000, and we hosted an ASA (softball) event last year that drew 50 teams from 17 states, and it had an economic impact of almost $1.5 million,” Roth said. “And Beloit is much bigger and had more to do and more to see and is closer to population centers. They’re maybe not going to hit a home run this year, but in two or three years they should max out that facility. The facilities allow you to host national events, something like a World Series event, and then you’re talking 20-some teams from all over. It would be a huge impact.”

And this year’s docket already includes softball and baseball tourneys at the YMCA complex and the Beloit Bike Classic, which will be the city’s first time as a host site in the 11-leg Tour of America’s Dairyland racing series (June 23).

Jaron Bertelsen is the director of sports and recreation for the YMCA. He is optimistic that Beloit’s reputation as a prime host will continue to spread.

“When I moved away, people had the perception that Beloit wasn’t a safe place because of crime, but the city has done a great job in the past several years and things have made a huge change for the better,” the Beloit Turner and UW-Whitewater graduate said. “Once people actually come and visit, they see that Beloit is a beautiful place and all of the great things we have going on and enjoy their time here. I’ve worked with Matt, and he has taken us to the next level.”

Bertelsen, who has been in his position for a year, also has played a major role through the YMCA, which works with nearly 500 youth ages 3 through 15 in activities that also include flag football, basketball, soccer, cheerleading and gymnastics.

And the jewel is the baseball/softball complex, which has even hosted American Legion and Home Talent League contests, will be a beehive of activity through Labor Day and beyond.

“We used to have local leagues playing on weekends, so that didn’t allow us to host tournaments, so we’ve moved all of our in-house games to Mondays through Thursdays, although if we continue to grow we could extent local stuff into the weekend,” he said. “But we’ve got tournaments scheduled all but two weekends through the end of August, and that’s huge for the community. Our complex is fully lighted, so we can have games from 8 a.m. and start our last ones at 9 p.m. Our goal is to pack the park and get as many people to use it as much as possible.”

Meanwhile, Beloit’s other facilities that Bosen uses as selling points are Pohlman Field, the new pool at Beloit Memorial High School, Krueger-Haskell Golf Course and the topnotch offerings at Beloit College’s Strong Stadium Complex.

“We have a minor league baseball complex to sell to people, and Strong Stadium can be used as a soccer and lacrosse field, plus the softball and baseball diamonds … those are all great championship-level facilities,” Bosen said. “The school’s new pool can seat 870 fans, the second-most of any facility in the state. And the YMCA has 11 diamonds at its complex.”

Bosen and city officials believe being part of the Dairyland circuit could be a boon and give the city huge name recognition.

“We will be the fifth race of the series, but were the final race scheduled, so we had to take whatever date we could,” he said of the Monday event that will take place in the downtown business district. “I’ve talked to numerous (city) council members, city departments and cycling fans, and everybody’s excited. It has the potential to be a crown jewel and annual showcase that puts the city in a positive light and allows for a lot of national marketing.”

People in this conversation

  • Guest - Beloit Sports Guy

    I applaud the efforts of the Beloit CVB to bring in visitors and create economic impact but the cycling race won't generate over-night stays other than the cyclists themselves--and what did they have to give them to get the race? Most of the tournaments at the Y baseball complex will be local/regional in nature, again resulting in few over-nights.

    about 4 months ago
    Like 0 Short URL:
  • Guest - Beloit Sports Guy

    I applaud the efforts of the Beloit CVB to bring in visitors and create economic impact but the cycling race won't generate over-night stays other than the cyclists themselves--and what did they have to give them to get the race? Most of the tournaments at the Y baseball complex will be local/regional in nature, again resulting in few over-nights.

    about 4 months ago
    Like 0 Short URL:

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