Rockford as the Soccer Capitol of the Midwest

US Youth Soccer's Region II Championships were held in Rockford and Wisconsin had 17 teams competing to advance to the US Youth Soccer Nat'l Championships.


Rockford as the Soccer Capitol of the Midwest

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by MilwVon on July 3, 2008

Rockford is host to a lot of soccer events held on a regional and national level. The centerpiece of the events are typically the Sportscore 1 and Sportscore 2 complexes. Both are part of the Rockford Park District and play host to many other sports including baseball, softball, volleyball, kickball, ultimate frisbee and wiffleball.

The City of Rockford has been through some hard times in the past couple of decades, largely due to the loss of industry in the area. Today Rockford is a bedroom community of Chicago, some 70 miles away. They have an international airport that they are touting as an alternative to Chicago's O'Hare and Midway airports. I don't know that if I were flying into Chicago I would want to be out as far as Rockford, but I suppose if you can fly from there rather than having to drive into Chicago's nightmare traffic gridlock, it is a nice alternative.

For this soccer tournament we were concerned as to whether or not soccer would even happen. There had been some terrible flooding throughout the Midwest in early June and Rockford was also adversely impacted. The Rock River flows through the downtown district and since the floods, is literally flowing into many of the business located downtown along the river. In spite of sand bags, several of the restaurants have lost their outdoor seating and were handling customers in the limited dry areas inside.

In spite of the poor field conditions, the 17 teams from Wisconsin faired pretty well even if we didn't advance any teams to the US Youth Soccer National Championships being held in Little Rock, Arkansas later this summer. We did have six teams advance to the semi finals and three to the finals. At the end of the day, however, they were largely outplayed by their opponents in what were driving rains on the final day of the event.

${QuickSuggestions} If you are attending a sports event in Rockford, you will find the best hotels and restaurants at the East State Street exit of the I90 tollway. There are over 1,200 hotel rooms at all prices ranges. Our event group hotel block had rooms from $69 to $129 per night.

I should comment here that some in our delegation booked at the Sweden House and were terribly disappointed. At $79/night they were really little more than a no-tell motel. Folks told me of toilets that were not functional, out of order air conditioning and little to no hot water.

If your event includes an opening ceremonies or award event at the Metro Centre in the downtown area, I would strongly encourage you to allow plenty of time to get there as traffic was horrific and parking not very plentiful, especially for the large group that our event hosted.

${BestWay} Rockford is a centrally located city, easily reached via the I90 Illinois tollway. I personally hate paying a dime to drive on any of the highways in Illinois, but in some areas of the state it is impossible to avoid them.

If you are attending an event at Sportscore 2 (the larger of the two facilities) you can get there from the "hotel campus area" without getting on the toll road and pay the 60cents. Just go south on East State Street to a right on Perryville. About four or five miles down you'll cross Riverside Blvd. Turn right there and you'll go straight to the Sportscore 2 complex.

I don't recall seeing much in the way of public transportation, so a personal auto may be your only way to get around town.

Clock Tower Resort

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by MilwVon on July 3, 2008

The Clock Tower Resort and Conference Center served as the headquarters hotel when over 250 teams from the Midwest convened for the US Youth Soccer Midwest Region Championships. While there were a number of other hotels in the housing block for teams, the state association and tournament officials were all booked into this hotel.

As a frequent business traveler and someone who has had to book a number of hotels for conference attendees, I have to say I was not very impressed with the "deal" that was negotiated at this "resort" hotel. At $115+tax per night, this hotel fell short of what I would consider calling a resort.

My room was somewhat small with few amenities. There was an in-room coffee station, TV with a nice cable network and free in-room wifi. Beyond these things, however, it was just a clean room. The bed was small (full sized, not even queen) and the bathroom had a leaky tub faucet. The work desk area was adequate and comfortable for working in the evenings on my laptop.

A number of folks in our Wisconsin delegation ate breakfast in the hotel's restaurant on the first morning in town. Unfortunately it was subpar and resulted in most people staying in the hotel to go to other nearby choices including Dennys and the Cracker Barrel. We never did try the hotel's restaurant for lunch or dinner.

The one feature that was lost on us is their new indoor waterpark - Coco Key. Given that most waterpark hotels in Wisconsin include park privileges for hotel guests, that was not the case here. Not that I was looking to use the waterpark, but from what I'm told by others, there was a discount offered to hotel guests on the $25/day admission fee.

This resort is clearly trying to compete with Wisconsin's waterpark capitol of the Midwest - the Wisconsin Dells. In addition to the indoor waterpark, they also have kids play room and arcade.

For more information on Clock Tower Resort and the CoCo Key indoor waterpark, you can go to: http://www.clocktowerresort.com/playland.cfm?&Size=1280 .

I gave this hotel a "somewhat recommended" because it would probably be a nice place for a family who has kids wanting to enjoy the full hotel & waterpark experience, especially during the cold winter months in the Midwest.

NOTE: This hotel used to be affiliated with Best Western but as of this writing is not. Apparently they left the B/W family of hotels and will soon be rejoining them. For my stay, however, they were not a Best Western property so no frequent traveler points were available to guests.
Best Western Clock Tower Resort
7801 E State St.
Rockford, Illinois, 61108
(815) 398-6000

Thunder Bay Grille

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by MilwVon on July 3, 2008

Entering Thunder Bay Grille gives you the feeling of a rustic northwoods lodge, something you'd find up in the U/P of Michigan or perhaps along a lake with dozens of fishing huts in Minnesota. The overall atmosphere was very family oriented and comfortable, so it is no wonder that they were packed the first night we were in town with the US Youth Soccer Regional Championships in Rockford.

We had a small group of four and had about a 45 minute wait to be seated. In the meantime, we bellied up to the bar to enjoy a cocktail. I had the adult version of a slurpee (strawberry margarita) while the others enjoyed one of a variety of tap beers available.

Once seated for dinner our server was very prompt in taking a second drink order as well as to inquire about appetizers. We passed as it was getting late and folks didn't really want to eat a lot of food.

The menu was largely beef, fresh fish and seafood, although I do recall seeing pork loin and lamb chops on the menu. Most of us had the "house specialty" prime rib. I found my cut to be a bit on the small side but absent of the fat that often is left on restaurant cuts of prime rib. It had a nice flavorful taste and was tender. The baked potato was good, although most in our group opted for the baked sweet potato.

They offered a nice selection of desserts, but again, we chose to pass given the late hour of the evening. The total check for four, including tip was right about $110. I thought that was a decent price for the four of us.

I should note that this restaurant is conveniently located right off the I90 tollway at the State Street exit, approximately a half-mile from the interchange and the Clock Tower Hotel.

For additional information to include menus check them out at: http://www.thunderbaygrille.com/ .
Thunder Bay Grille Restaurant
7652 Potawatomi Trail
Rockford , 61108
(815) 397-5713

Sportscore 2

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by MilwVon on July 3, 2008

Part of the Rockford Park District, Sportscore 2 is the frequent host to youth sporting events, especially soccer. This year (2008) they were host to the US Youth Soccer's Midwest Regional Championships. Later in the year, they will also host the Region II ODP (Olympic Development Program) summer camp.

This facility is very nice in terms of the facility, the layout, features like rest rooms and concessions . . . but frankly is severely overplayed making for less than ideal soccer playing conditions. The fields for this particular event were especially poor due to the crummy rainy weather we've had in this region of the country during early June.

Overall, however, I do feel that Sportscore 2 is a good venue for events given the total number of soccer fields available for play (over 20), many of which are equipted with spectator bleachers.

The concession stand is really a small restaurant and is located on the upper level of the indoor facility. The Skybox Restaurant features hot food (burgers, hot dogs and fries) as well and fresh made deli sandwiches, and soft drinks. I didn't think that their prices were any more than you would pay at similar style dining establishments especially at sports venues.

Speaking of the indoor facility, I should also mention that they host volleyball, wiffleball, ultimate frisbee and the indoor versions of soccer, softball and football in their indoor facility.

If you come to Sportscore 2, or any other Rockford Park District facility for that matter, be prepared to pay for parking. It was the one complaint I heard from our attendees. While $15 isn't much for the duration of an event (five days in the case of ours), it is somewhat of an insult to be charged to park in a county park facility.

The Rockford Park District also has Sportscore 1 which was also supposed to be used for the Midwest Regional Championships. Unfortunately, with the flooding experienced in this region, Sportscore 1 was literally under water from the overflow of the Rock River. I'm told that it was in over five feet of flood water at the highest flood stage of the Rock River.
Sportscore II
8800 E. Riverside Blvd
Rockford
(815) 885-1135

Dining in Rockford

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by MilwVon on July 3, 2008

Staying at the Clock Tower Resort on East State Street was very convenient to Sportscore 2. In addition to be centrally located in the "hotel campus area" as the Rockford CVB refers to it, there are as you would expect, A LOT of dining choices in the area.

If you're interested in some of the more well known chains, you will find Applebees, Panera Bread, Dennys, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Outback and Texas Roadhouse all within a couple of miles of the I90/State Street interchange. Of these choices, we did dine at Olive Garden one night. There were eight in our group and unfortunately the quality of the food was unimpressive. Everyone in our group commented that it was unusual to have a poor dining experience at Olive Garden and was willing to chalk it up to the huge soccer crowds there. (We waited an hour for a table on a Monday evening.)

If you're looking for a great burger and/or milk shake, you have to look no further than Red Robin (home of the gourmet burger) or Steak n Shake (home of the steak burger). I love both of these chains and had lunch at each of them once during my six days in Rockford. If you want a great, thick burger with a bottomless basket of steak fries, Red Robin in your choice. Expect to spend right at $10 for your burger & fries.

Steak n Shake is known as a Midwest drive-through that also has diner seating inside. While their prices are a bit lower than Red Robin, that is largely a factor of how much you really get. Their shakes are outstanding, but are also a bit smaller than Red Robins. In fact, when we dine at Red Robins, David and I split a shake. We don't at SnS.

For the most part, we found that this area is going through somewhat of a transition. There were several restaurants that have closed, been sold or simply gone out of business. There was an old Cheddars Restaurant that was boarded up with signage in the parking lot that they were soon going to become a BW3's . . . a favorite dining choice for David and me.

If you’re looking for fast food drive through places like McDonalds or Burger King, you will find them although they are not as conveniently located as the other “real” restaurants. You can also find other dining choices along the Riverside Blvd, including Dairy Queen and Culvers, which are in close proximity to the Sportscore 2 complex.

http://www.igougo.com/journal-j71180-Rockford-Rockford_as_the_Soccer_Capitol_of_the_Midwest.html

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