2017 Game Changers: Joel Koester, Chicago Southland CVB

By Matt Swenson, August 8, 2017

Joel Koester is sports market manager at Chicago Southland CVB. As a 2017 Connect Sports Game Changer, Koester discusses his passion for sports tourism.

Connect with Koester on Twitter and Instagram.

What I do: The Chicago Southland CVB represents Chicago’s 62 south/southwest suburbs. I am responsible for marketing this region to prospective amateur sports events, with the goal of booking their events into the Chicago Southland, resulting in a positive economic impact.

How I got here: In 2008, I graduated from the sports management and professional golf management programs at University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Prior to and after college, I spent 12 years in the golf industry working for numerous top-ranked golf courses. In March 2012, I knew it was time for a career change, and I joined the team at the Chicago Southland CVB. Not only do I get to surround myself with sports all day (which is my passion), but I also have the opportunity to work with some of the best professionals in the destination marketing business today. 

Why I am a game changer: Along with the CVB, I spearheaded the first-ever Turn Two for Youth Midwest Drive. Turn Two for Youth is a charitable organization formed to collect and distribute baseball equipment to active children in need of a little help. In the span of two months, I was able to collect over 1,700 items from local Southland teams, organizations, recreation programs and local businesses. To date, this was the largest single contribution to the Turn Two for Youth organization.

My greatest career accomplishment: Successfully attracting the 2016 STIHL TIMBERSPORTS United States Professional & Collegiate Championships and the 2016 United
States Log Rolling Open. These two lumberjack events produced more than 1 billion media impressions for the Chicago Southland CVB and Chicago Southland region.

Impressive stats: We are bringing more sporting events to the Chicago Southland region than we have in the CVB’s 30-year history. In our last fiscal year, I had a conversion rate of 59 percent and brought in an estimated $7.5 million of economic impact to our communities from regional and national sporting events. I also grew a healthy beard for two clients and their events over a two-year span. By doing so, I earned the title of certified beard farmer from former STIHL TIMBERSPORTS Executive Producer Brad Sorgen.

What I’m working on: We are looking forward to an awesome 2018! Kicking off the year, we will be hosting the 2018 Crusader Classic, an NCAA Women’s bowling tournament. Also in 2018, American Cornhole Organization will bring its Chicago Midwest Major to our 100,000-sq.-ft. newly renovated Southland Center in Lynwood.

What I do outside of work: I spend time with my wife, Meghan; our three cats; and our dog. Since my past involved being a golf professional, I still like to hit the links with my friends and dad.

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