A Jacksonville sports complex is partnering with the Village of South Jacksonville for several major improvements to the facility. The South Jacksonville Board of Trustees approved a $50,000 tourism grant request from the Future Champions Sports Complex during its May meeting last Thursday.
Christine Jamison had presented the request to the board in April in an effort to install a new scoreboard on each of the complex’s two most-used baseball fields.
The $50,000 grant is the largest amount ever approved for a South Jacksonville tourism grant. Village President Dick Semples said after last week’s meeting that it just makes sense to help support a major driver of tourism funds for the village.
“During the period of… I’ve been here twenty years and I don’t know how long this establishment has been here, probably at least fifteen years, and the village has never contributed toe penny, or was asked to contribute to at that time was Lenz Field.
So it’s going to be something that’s going to be there twenty-four seven, and again, we’re not promoting the village of South Jacksonville as much as we are the four motels, because that’s where the money comes from.”
Advertising for the four South Jacksonville hotels will be an important part of the new billboards. Semples says a very large amount of money goes into the tourism grant fund through the motel/hotel tax owed to patrons of the Future Champions Sports Complex.
Jamieson says that since the majority of local hotels are located in the village and teams travel from far and wide to compete in Future Champions, the economic impact is a win-win for the village, the future champions and the city of Jacksonville as a whole.
“We are simply thrilled that the Village of South Jacksonville recognizes the important economic driver that is the Future Champions Sports Complex. Last weekend we had fifty-five teams come to our complex from all over the region within Illinois and even beyond and most of them were staying in hotels, enjoying our restaurants and using our gas stations, shopping and things like that. We recognize how important it is for our complex to be here in Jacksonville and what it does for our local businesses.”
Jamieson says they are very grateful and find it very satisfying that the village recognizes the impact and has agreed to become a community partner to help keep teams coming to the area as more complexes like Future Champions pop up.
“The fact that they will cover the cost of two new boards is really important to us. We recognize that other municipalities in the state of Illinois and beyond are investing in these types of sports facilities, and we recognize that we have many to compete with in the near future. So it is important for us to increase our amenities as quickly as possible, but we are also limited in our resources. So to have that support from a local municipality is really important and we’re grateful for that support.”
The Village of South Jacksonville agreed to a memorandum of understanding with Future Champions not to exceed the cost of $50,000 to purchase and install the two billboards for the hotels.
Included as part of the agreement are options to change advertising if a hotel changes names, as well as provisions to retain advertising space for those hotels even if the complex changes ownership.
Other work continues at the complex, as the Jamisons and their partners will soon open a full-service bar, grill and arcade in the former Lenz facility.
The Future Swings Learning Center is also moving to the property, making the complex a one-stop shop for baseball and softball competition and instruction.