Chesterton Tribune



New county sports tourism group works on a game plan

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The Porter County Convention, Recreation and Visitors Commission board welcomed their two newest teammates Chuck Williams and Doug Olson at its meeting last week.

Both men were appointed to the PCCRVC by the County Commissioners on Tuesday. The Commissioners said they increased the number of board members to focus on finding ways way to market and develop more opportunities for amateur sports in the county.

Williams said the first step would be to explore what sports groups there are in the county and see what their economic needs are.

He and Olson will lead a cabinet along with six PCCRVC members and community members with sports expertise.

PCCRVC president Mitch Peters appointed board members Jesse Harper, Scott Tuft, Len Clark and Richard Riley to the cabinet. They will also invite Valparaiso Parks Director John Seibert and County Plan Commission Director Robert Thompson, who has experience in sports coupled with his knowledge of properties that may have the potential to be developed for sports recreation.

Williams said he is interested in developing sports “nuances” since the county already has an abundance of baseball and basketball facilities. Some of new additions to consider include swimming and ice skating.

PCCRVC Executive Director Lorelei Weimer said she recommends the cabinet speak with the National Association of Sports Commissions who made a presentation to the tourism bureau a few years ago on approaches to sports travel marketing.

Peters said he would like to take a look at what the Expo Center can offer for sporting events. A feasibility study for the facility located at Ind. 49 and Division Road will be done soon now that the County Commissioners have the CEDIT money to fund it.

Different ideas for the Expo and grandstands have been tossed around including BMX Racing, horse shows, tractor shows, and tournament sports, Weimer said. The center has been eyed as the county’s major tourist anchor south of the Indiana Dunes which may be developed as a convention center.

PCCRVC member Mike Mantai said there are vacant land parcels north of Hebron that he believes are suitable to be developed for sports.

Williams said he will talk with the Commissioners on a way to put funding towards developing niche sports markets.

The board members spoke positively about their new charge.

“I think this is a great move for us. I’m really excited,” said member Judy Chaplin.

Visitor Center for rent

In other business Thursday, Weimer and board attorney David Hollenbeck addressed the topic of allowing space at the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center to be rented out to outside groups for events after hours.

Some informal events have been held already, Weimer said, and the plan now is to put together a lease agreement covering issues such as insurance liability and whether or not alcohol will be served.

The board granted approval to move forward.

Also, the board directed Hollenbeck to write to the County Commissioners about including PCCRVC staff in the sick bank for County employees.

Vacation home ads

Following up on a concern raised last year, PCCRVC Assistant Director Christine Livingston presented research she’s done on advertising vacation homes on Indiana visitor commissions’ websites and said the results were “all over the board.”

Vacation homes had been advertised for free on the Indiana Dunes Tourism website, just like hotels and inns, which was called into question by staff since they are not properties subject to paying the innkeepers’ tax by state law.

The board under a motion by Tuft ruled that the vacation homes will be charged the standard advertising rates for businesses. Information about vacation homes will still be given for free if a caller or visitor personally requests it from PCCRVC staff.

Treasurer’s Report

The April 2013 innkeeper’s collection check was $71,942.42 which is a 13 percent increase cash basis and a 19 percent accrual basis from 2012.

Weimer said the collection checks continue to show increases due to collection of unpaid back taxes from a few hotels.


Posted 4/22/2013