As it celebrates its 20th season, local officials are noting that Standard Bank Ballpark in Crestwood, IL has been a major draw for sports tourism.
Currently home to the Windy City Thunderbolts (independent; Frontier League), the ballpark originally opened in 1999. It has long been an anchor for professional baseball in the Chicago suburb of Crestwood, but it is also being noted for its benefits that extend beyond hosting the Thunderbolts.
When it is not used for Thunderbolts’ games, Standard Bank Ballpark hosts a variety of other events. Some of these are sporting events at the local high school level, but Standard Bank Ballpark is being credited with helping to bring tournaments to the area. Those tournaments, according to local officials, have brought more visitors and in turn more tax revenue to the area. More from the Daily Southtown:
Standard Bank Stadium also hosts high school and college baseball games, as well as birthday parties and corporate events. Plus, the facility draws thousands of visitors from outside the region for youth sports tournaments.
“Sports tourism is big business and the economic impact of these and other sporting events are significant,” said Loren Petrakis-Mueller, communications manager for the Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Pastime Tournaments, which organizes youth baseball events, is scheduled to hold five events at the Crestwood facility this year, she said. Similar events have drawn more than 5,000 visitors to the region since 2015, she said.
“This one sporting client stayed in an estimated 1,125 (hotel) rooms with an economic impact of $1,215,000 for the region,” Petrakis-Mueller said. “Revenue from sports tourism helps offset the costs of taxes for local taxpayers.”
When it originally opened, Standard Bank Ballpark was known as Hawkinson Ford Field. The Thunderbolts were known as the Cook County Cheetahs at the time, before rebranding to their current name in 2004.