Coming off of the heels of hosting the successful 2015 Ultimate Division III College Championships this past May at Sportscore Two, Rockford will now host the 2016 USA Ultimate National Championships, a four-day flying disk tournament.
USA Ultimate, the national governing body for the sport of ultimate in the United States, will join forces with the Ultimate Chicago and Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau for an event to be held Sept. 29 – Oct. 2, 2016.
The announcement was made late last week.
“Winning an event of this caliber is a testament to the hard work by the RACVB, Rockford Park District and many regional partners to make Sportscore Two and the Rockford region one of the best sports destinations in the country,” said John Groh, Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau CEO/president.
More than 1,300 athletes are expected to play in the championships. The event is expected to be more than $200,000 and more than 1,500 hotel room nights are anticipated to be filled by visiting players, coaches and fans.
The championships began in 1980, but this will be the first Midwest venue for the games. Most recently, the championships were held in Frisco, Texas (2013-15), and Sarasota, Florida (2000-12). Rockford’s bid, prepared and submitted by RACVB, edged out proposals from San Diego, California, and other destinations from throughout the country.
As part of a partnership with ESPN and USA Ultimate, matches played at Sportscore Two will be broadcast live on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app, which brings 24/7 live programming via smart phones streaming services.
According to ESPN, the combined broadcast of ESPN3/WatchESPN will reach more than 83 million households across the country. The agreement allows for highlights from the event to be featured on ESPN’s SportsCenter, as well.
The event features 48 teams (16 men’s, 16 women’s and 16 mixed) narrowed from a field of more than 700 teams that compete in USA Ultimate sanctioned tournaments throughout the year and includes the Triple Crown Tour (along with the U.S. Open and Pro Flight Finale) which represents the highest and most prestigious level of competitive Ultimate in North America.
During the championships, 18 fields are expected to be used at the Sportscore Two complex including the five new synthetic turf fields currently under construction and expected to be complete by spring 2016. Wedgbury Stadium, which seats 2,000 spectators and received a synthetic turf upgrade earlier this year, will host the final matches.
“This is a dynamic event to help launch the inaugural season for the five new synthetic turf fields at Sportscore Two,” Groh said. “USA Ultimate will love playing on these fields, and it will be a great way to showcase to a national audience our region’s commitment to improving our already heralded facilities.”
The Chicago and northern Illinois area boasts competitive elite-level teams, including perennial national qualifiers Chicago Machine and Chicago Nemesis, currently ranked fourth and 21st in the nation in the men’s and women’s divisions respectively.
“Ultimate Chicago is ecstatic to be part of the 2016 National Championships,” commented Gail Reich, the organization’s treasurer. “We are a long-standing non-profit that provides many leagues throughout the year for both youth and adults alike. Our ultimate community will be excited to both watch and support this fantastic, high-caliber event and cheer on our local teams.”
— Ultimate disc national championships coming to Rockford —