Elk Grove mayor calls Bahamas Bowl sponsorship a success but will decide next month on doing it again
Businesses from as far as Houston and New York City have contacted Elk Grove Village as they consider expanding their company operations -- a tangible result from the village's sponsorship last month of a college football bowl game.
But village officials also said Tuesday they're awaiting additional data before deciding whether to re-up for another $300,000 to sponsor the game again next December.
Mayor Craig Johnson, in his first board meeting after the Dec. 21 Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl game in Nassau, Bahamas, deemed the unconventional sponsorship a success for its marketing benefits. The bowl game used the village's business marketing tagline as a way to promote the sprawling Elk Grove industrial park.
Johnson reported Tuesday that website hits to makerswanted.org spiked to nearly 20,000 Dec. 1-23, while there were some 3,000 hits in November and about 2,000 each in September and October. During December, the average time someone spent on the website was more than 1 minute, when it's usually just seconds, Johnson said.
Some of those who visited the website and filled out forms included representatives of companies in Houston and New York City, who said they would consider Elk Grove to open second locations for their businesses. A business owner in the South also said he is looking to move north and that Elk Grove would be his first choice, Johnson said, while a company in Chicago also is considering a move.
"Our goal throughout this whole process was to get our name throughout the world in a positive, pro-business way, and we did that," the mayor said.
Johnson also pointed to local and national media coverage related to the sponsorship, and noted the kind words he received from Chicago Blackhawks President John McDonough, an Elk Grove resident, who read Johnson's daily diary that ran the week of the bowl game in the Daily Herald.
"I talked to John after I got back and he just kept saying, 'Craig, I just cannot believe what you got. It's impossible to value.'" Johnson said. "John is considered the pre-eminent expert when it comes to sports marketing."
Elk Grove's agreement with ESPN Productions Inc., which operates the bowl game, includes an option to sponsor the game for the same $300,000 fee in 2019. Officials have until March 1 to decide.
To help with that decision, Johnson said village officials will evaluate data from three sources that will be presented at a Feb. 12 village board meeting. That includes statistics from Lombard-based Red Caffeine, which has handled advertising and marketing for Elk Grove since the campaign launch in 2015; Chicago-based 4FRONT, a sports marketing firm that helped broker the sponsorship deal; and ESPN.