BYG2RKFD: Fred VanVleet Supercharges RACVB Campaign

GrahamSpencer’s 30 + years of service to the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau has taken us on many interesting, challenging and successful creative journeys. Together, and alongside other municipal and county partners, we literally created and sustained the critically successful visitor industry in the Rockford Region. Within that industry, an area of special focus has been sports tourism. The community has invested heavily in our facilities and as any parent of a midwestern youth travel athlete will tell you, Rockford has become a noted sports mecca where tournaments are big business.

In 2015, we began a powerful campaign to attract more lucrative competitions to the region: BYG2RKFD  (Bring Your Game to Rockford). Featuring high profile local ambassadors like NBA standout Fred VanVleet of the Toronto Raptors, the campaign has earned RACVB designation as Sports Commission of the Year three times by the National Association of Sports Commissions (NASC) in 2015, 2017 and 2018.

The BYG2RKFD concept defines and sells regional sports facilities as excellent, accessible and affordable – while also shining a bright light on the excellence of the athletes who grew to prominence here, like favorite son Van Vleet. 

At RACVB’s request, we even modified our proprietary Thinkpad concept and created a Sportspad Journal featuring facilities information and athlete bios about local athletes. The Sportspad is used successfully in direct sales efforts as a conversation starter, leave-behind and memento of a tournament well-played. 

Not surprisingly, BYG2RKFD has born fruit. In 2017 alone, total hotel nights booked rose 9.8%, driving occupancy up to 74% at a time when the Rockford Region’s peers were experiencing declines. The economic impact of tourism locally exceeds $350 million and supports 3,000 jobs, generating tax receipts in excess of $5.9 million.

Speaking of winners, Fred VanVleet’s Toronto Raptors advanced to its first NBA Finals with huge contributions from none other than Fred VanVleet. He had struggled early in the playoffs, but after the birth of his second child, Fred Jr, on May 20 in Rockford, Fred rose to the occasion in the Conference Finals. In the series’ last three games against Milwaukee, he poured in 14 of 17 three-pointers and averaged 16 points in 32 minutes of critical playing time. Good luck in the Finals, Fred. Your hometown loves you.