Future of Sports Tourism Focus of April 20 Meeting


(Alton, IL – April 17, 2023) What does the future of sports tourism look like in the Great Rivers & Routes region of southwest Illinois? The Huddle Up Group will present a strategic plan answering that question during a public meeting Thursday, April 20 starting at 9:30 a.m. in the Trimpe Building of Lewis & Clark Community College.

Interested sports stakeholders are invited to attend the meeting which is anticipated to last approximately 90 minutes. Please send RSVPs to Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau Director of Sports Marketing and Sales at: Jtroop@riversandroutes.com

“Sports tourism is a key ingredient to economic growth in southwest Illinois,” said Cory Jobe, President and CEO of the tourism bureau. “Growing sports events in our region will bring in more overnight stays, increase local tax revenues and we anticipate businesses will see an increase in sales. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

Huddle Up Group, an Arizona-based sports strategic planning organization, will identify, grow, develop and service the region’s sports tourism efforts to ensure a positive economic impact through a strategic plan. The organization was hired by the Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau in January after the bureau received a $750,000 sports tourism grant from Madison County.

As part of the strategic planning process, Huddle Up conducted a market needs assessment on sports participation trends, and completed a regional facility audit including identifying existing public and private sports facilities. Huddle Up conducted an analysis of sports events in the region, assessed local athletic facilities and events potential and will provide other key data reports. Huddle Up also made on-site visits and interviewed key athletic representatives in the area.

“We are looking forward to delivering our findings and recommendations to the Great Rivers and Routes stakeholders. There are some unique opportunities that we will shine a light on during our presentation and delivery of the destination’s game plan for sports tourism,” said Huddle Up Group Founder and CEO Jon Schmieder. “This is a watershed moment for the destination for both sports tourism and their community user groups.”

The strategic plan is expected to recommend needed upgrades and an evaluation of existing community needs; and create a comparative market analysis and market demand report. The market analysis report would include a comparison of the Great Rivers & Routes sports tourism market to at least three similar cities; include community input and participation; and recommend opportunities to advance sports tourism with current facilities and natural resources available.

“Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau has done a great job bringing tourism to Madison County and the Huddle Up Group plan will be another tool to use for the growing sports tourism market,” said Kurt Prenzler, Chairman of the Madison County Board. “This strategic plan will help continue to grow, develop and service sports tourism in Madison County and ensure the continued economic impact of our community assets.”

Collinsville City Manager and Economic Development Director Mitch Bair noted Collinsville is primed and ready to benefit from increased sports tourism in the region.

“Sports Tourism is a great opportunity for Collinsville and the region to make its mark nationally. Given that the region was blessed with limitless opportunity and having HUG – the authority on sports tourism strategic planning – work with the Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau to create a strategic and tactical plan for sports tourism that is executable will give us a map for outrageous success for Collinsville and the region,” Bair commented.


(The Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau is a certified Destination Marketing Organization serving Madison, Jersey, Calhoun, Macoupin, Montgomery and Greene counties and East St. Louis in St. Clair County. The bureau is dedicated to educating visitors about the region by providing information regarding the area’s history, unique landmarks, recreational opportunities, leisure attractions, special events and scenic marvels.)