Nick Povalitis, CDME, is director of sports development for Rockford Area CVB in Rockford, Illinois. As a 2019 Connect Sports Game Changer, he discusses his passion for sports tourism.
*Connect with Povalitis on Twitter and Instagram.
What I do:
I’m thrilled to market my hometown region as one of sports tourism’s leading event destinations. Relationship building begets success, so a majority of my time is spent making sure our customers—event owners, stakeholders, visitors and residents alike—get what they need to be successful in Rockford. It’s also my responsibility to make sure they understand the value of sports tourism, hopefully to the point that we’re organically at top of mind for their sports businesses.
How I got here:
Following an athletic media relations internship at Northwestern University, I began my full-time career as an assistant sports information director at Washington University in St. Louis. My wife and I moved back home in 2007, when I took a little detour from sports into a route management role for a uniform company. After about five years, I started as a sales manager
at the Rockford Area CVB on June 18, 2012, and transitioned to the sports market solely in Summer 2013.
Why I am Game Changer:
I’m proud of the diversified event portfolio that’s been built the last few years, from six NJCAA national championships, four USA Ultimate national events, the first AAU Basketball National Championship in the state of Illinois, our first Olympic Trials event and much more.
Greatest career accomplishment:
Two NASC Sports Tourism Organization of the Year honors and first-time events and programs are recent highlights.
Specific event you are proud of organizing/hosting:
There are so many. Let’s go with bringing the USA Ultimate Club Championships to the Midwest, let alone Illinois, for the first time in 2016. We competed against two-tier cities and beach destinations to win the business, and the event broke the ticket sales record and was referred to by event staff as the smoothest Nationals they’ve ever experienced. Another example has been producing the FVV Fan Fest as our community’s premier rec night alongside Rockford native and NBA star Fred VanVleet
—we’re both really proud of it!
Leveraging sports tourism locally for positive impact stands out most. For the FVV Fan Fest, I lead that effort on Fred’s and RACVB’s behalf—from conceptualization, to planning, to sponsorship sales, to event day operations, to post-event thank you cards, and the eventual donation of proceeds raised. The 2018 FVV Fan Fest netted nearly $8,000, all of which was donated back to local youth sports programs in need.
What are you working on right now that you’re excited about?
I’m really excited about the 2019 North American Olympic Table Tennis Trials, which are set for Oct. 5 in Rockford. As our first Trials, we’re going to deliver a great experience for the community and the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF). Some other highlight bookings include the 2019 USA Ultimate Elite-Select Challenge, as well as the 2021-23 NJCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Championships.
What’s next for you and/or your organization?
We have a 160-room downtown Embassy Suites opening in April 2020 that will make a significant impact on our hospitality industry. It will certainly open up more opportunity for arena partnerships, and will continue to complement our eight-court basketball facility just across the Rock River.
What I do outside of work:
Most of my free time is spent with my wife and three kids. Our kids play a combination of basketball, baseball, volleyball, gymnastics and dance at the moment. I do sneak in workouts and reading early in the morning or late at night though!