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updated: 11/2/2011 11:42 AM

Sports and entertainment will bring big turnout to Vernon Hills

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A confluence of sports and entertainment is expected to make for a busy week next July in Vernon Hills.

Softball and lacrosse tournaments by day and the annual Summer Celebration in the evening will attract big crowds, as thousands of players and visitors converge on the village.

Niles-based Lacrosse America will hold its flagship Pipe City Lacrosse Festival the weekend of July 21 and 22, at same time the Vernon Hills Stingers girls softball team plays its long-running summer tournament.

After the games, visitors can switch gears for entertainment of a different sort at Summer Celebration, one of the largest summer festivals in Lake County, which is scheduled for July 19-22.

"The cool thing is you come here for a tournament from wherever and there will be something to do at night," Village Manager Mike Allison said.

Lacrosse America is expected to host 80 to 90 teams, with the potential of 5,000 visitors counting players and spectators. The Stingers are expected to generate about 3,000 combined visitors, according to village officials.

Restaurants, hotels and stores in town are expected to benefit, and the village will be able to showcase the sprawling Vernon Hills Athletic Complex, where many of the games will be played.

"It will be big," said village Trustee Mike Marquardt, one of the village officials who have been working on the logistics.

This past summer, Lacrosse America also held the tournament in Vernon Hills at various locations, which created parking problems. In 2012, the games will utilize 15 fields mainly at the athletic complex and at they nearby American Hotel Register property.

With the lacrosse tournament's desire to consolidate, Stingers representatives feared they would be booted from the athletic complex, according to the village. But that will not be the case, as the logistics were resolved during several meetings among the interested parties, including the Vernon Hills Park District.

"We worked out everything with the lacrosse (group) and the Stingers," Allison said. "There will be at least three fields they (Stingers) can use," at the sports complex.

Allison said the village has been working with a "broad brush" so far and will be finalizing other matters such as field rental and other details.

In a separate matter, the village board on Tuesday informally agreed to spend up to $45,000 on musical acts for next year's Summer Celebration.

Last year, the village authorized $39,000 and spent $36,000 on entertainment for the four-day festival. Expenses before the economy soured had been in the mid- to high-$50,000 range.

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