To the south and southwest of Chicago, 62 bustling suburbs make up the Chicago Southland. In the heart of the Midwest, the region is conveniently located 25 minutes from downtown Chicago and is accessible from both Midway and O’Hare International Airports. Just a five-hour drive from eight surrounding states, it’s also a breeze arriving by car via six major interstates. Across each suburb, its range of facilities are equipped to host over 45 different sports. “Thanks to our reasonable prices, convenient transportation options and exciting extracurricular activities, the Chicago Southland provides unlimited potential for your next sporting event,” Kristy Stevens, Sports Market Manager, says.
As the official destination management organization, the mission of the Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureau is to market the communities within the Chicago Southland region as a meetings and leisure destination; soliciting conventions, exhibitions, sporting events and other related group business; engaging in visitor promotions including those which generate overnight stays for the region; promoting lodging, food and beverage, attractions, festivals and events; and other visitor related businesses; to promote and aid in tourism-related product development, thereby enhancing and developing the image, economic fabric and vitality of the Southland.
“The Chicago Southland CVB prides itself on working with sports events planners from beginning to end. We value all our sports event business, no matter the size. Whether we are hosting a small regional tournament or a large national competition, we provide our MVP treatment to all sports groups,” Kristy Stevens says. “We work hard to engage the region in upcoming sporting events through various methods, including posting participant/spectator information on social media; leveraging media coverage; promoting events in guides and newsletters; working with chambers of commerce on welcoming events; and more. We also offer non-profit sports organizations the opportunity to file a local grant, whereby they could secure up to $2,500 for event promotion,” she continues.
SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview can hold up to 20,000 fans and features 34 executive suites and six stage suites. The stadium is home to the Chicago Red Stars and Chicago’s newest professional soccer team, the Chicago House Athletic Club, who will be kicking off their inaugural season in August. Here, the 90,000 square foot Bridgeview Dome houses a full-size regulation soccer field.
A flexible indoor-outdoor space, the Southland Center in Lynwood is equipped for a variety of sports. The center is home to the largest continuous portable wood court flooring in the Western Hemisphere and is the second largest in the world. This flooring is available April-October. From November-March, the Southland Center offers state-of-the-art Desso turf for soccer. This large-scale facility is the perfect spot for any tournament.
The Ozinga Field in Crestwood, home to the professional Windy City ThunderBolts baseball team, has a range of batting cages and dugouts for players. The field features an electric scoreboard, a press box and plenty of concessions for over 3,500 fans and spectators to enjoy.
Additionally, the Chicago Southland offers opportunities for adaptive sports. The Lincolnway Special Recreation Association in New Lenox features a sensory room, four multi-purpose rooms, a gymnasium with wheelchair-friendly flooring and a wheelchair softball field.
As such an expansive region, there is truly something for everyone here. Coming in at the top of the list are 19 unique craft breweries and a range of distilleries and wineries. Many of the breweries have award winning craft beers on the menu, so be sure to check out a few during your stay. For a safe and fun tour, hop on the Illiana Brew Bus to visit multiple breweries and/or wineries.
Chicago Southland is a golf lover’s dream, with over 30 pristine public golf courses for all skill levels. No matter your skillset, you’ll surely find your perfect course here.
In addition to its abundance of breweries and golf courses, the region offers an array of parks, museums, sports activities, and other unique attractions. As one of the most densely packed railroad regions in the nation, Chicago Southland is home to an abundance of railfanning and rail-centric attractions.
Next, check out the Pullman National Monument/Visitor Information Center in Chicago, a beautiful historic district with a fascinating story. In University Park, The Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park is a site like no other. The 100-acre prairie is home to 30 master large-scale sculptures that will fascinate all ages. Over in Palos Heights, the Lake Katherine Nature Center & Botanic Gardens is a serene oasis to unplug while exploring its hiking trails, waterfall, and Navajo Creek. In Tinley Park, the Hollywood Casino Ampitheatre is a lively outdoor music venue equipped for 30,000 guests. Headliners like the Jonas Brothers and Kings of Leon are slated for this year, so be sure to check out the venue schedule to see if your favorite artists are playing during your stay!
The Chicago Southland CVB is busy scheduling 2021 and 2022, with multiple events on the horizon for this fall. Its past successful events include the Toyota USA National Juniors & Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Association Championships, the National Paintball League Chicago Open, USHL Combines & Player Evaluation Camp, American Taekwondo Association Class “A” Tournament, and the National Beard and Moustache Championships.
“We’re here at the Odyssey Golf Foundation golf course in Tinley Park, Illinois, about to host the 19th annual Midwestern Amputee Golf Association’s All-Disability Open. This tournament is a two-day tournament, 36 holes, which features 59 amputees from all over the United States, and some of the best amputee golfers here in the United States. This is our first year working with the Odyssey Golf Club Foundation and it’s beginning to start a long partnership, and also our first year working with the Chicago Southland CVB. The partnerships so far with both organizations have been wonderful. They’ve allowed us to do so many things that we did not have the opportunity to do before this year, especially reaching out to new players and groups that we had not had the opportunity to before.”Brad Schubert, President, Midwestern Amputee Golf Association
“This is our fourth year in Blue Island and our third year at this site, the waterfall along the Cal-Sag. The event’s come a long way since we first started. It was brought to Blue Island by the Chicago Southland Convention and Visitors Bureau. [They] reached out to us because we’re along a perfect waterway to do an event like this. We’re one of the few communities that have something like this not just in the Southland but really in the country. [The CVB] brought us the event four years ago. We started with eight teams back then and we’ve grown it now to 20 teams for this year. We sold the event out for the first time ever and have 400 people coming to Blue Island for this event this year and we’re hoping to continue to grow it. I think with the right staff, the right marketing and the right help from the Visitors Bureau again we can continue to build this thing. It has been a good partnership to help bring people to Blue Island and into the Southland.”Kevin Brown, Lead Organizer, Chicago Southland Dragon Boat Festival
“We’re here courtesy of the Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureau. They’ve been amazing to work with, helping us get all of our racers and staff in here, as well as getting all the spectators out here today to enjoy the amazing Spartan Race with our Spartan Stadium Series.”Jason Barnes, Spartan
Thanks to the Chicago Southland’s complimentary services, affordable and comfortable hotels as well as family-friendly restaurants and attractions, athletes and their families can rest easy and focus simply on playing their sport and enjoying their stay.
For more information, check out Chicago Southland’s Playeasy profile here!