UIC an Accidental Sports Center on the world stage?

In cities around the US and the world, economic and business development agencies and local governments compete to attract major events such as sports competitions, conventions, conferences and others . They do this for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to, tourism spending and marketing exposure both of which foster increased economic development. On the last weekend in June, two large events were hosted in Chicago and UIC played a role in both.  UIC’s Forum and the UIC Pavilion are assets that are important to the University and to City of Chicago because events require a variety of facilities from which organizers might choose.

On June 29 at the UIC Pavilion, Street League Skateboarding was televised nationally on Fox Sports and had an international web cast. The event included a public expo. As you might expect the event attracted a younger crowd but young people  grow up and many of them go to universities and television viewers often choose places to live or visit.

On the same weekend, the International Triathlon Union had a stop in the World Tour in Grant Park. This event was televised in over 60 countries and continues to be shown in re-runs. A national level amateur event attracted 4000 participants from all over the USA (there were some local residents who participated). The USA Elite team secured training time at UIC and there’s considerable potential for this sort of activity in many sports.

Given UIC’s facilities’ proximity to downtown, it’s easy to imagine, without adding significant spending, attracting the world’s best in countless activities being drawn to our area. A coordinated effort in this area would create jobs; be a priceless marketing opportunity for the University; an excellent way to position the community to prospective students, professors, and administrators; an enhancement of the University’s reputation in the local and wider community; and great exposure for our community. With the right planning of Roosevelt Square during the upcoming master planning process for which C4C successfully advocated, and institutional employer-assisted housing programs targeted to Roosevelt Square, and more effort to attract events like those UIC attracted in June, our community and Chicago could benefit immensely.