Elk Grove bowl game sponsorship pays off with proposed project
Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores plans to open a gas station in Elk Grove Village's business park -- but it's not just any gas station.
The proposed 7,600-square-foot store and fueling station at Busse Road and Pratt Boulevard is the first bricks-and-mortar dividend from the village's unconventional sponsorship of the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl.
"It's not often you can take a direct line from Point A to Point B when it comes to marketing," said Mayor Craig Johnson, who stood beside a Love's representative and the bowl game trophy to tout the announcement at a village board meeting Tuesday night. "It's almost like a dream scenario."
That Love's employee, Chad Bruner, was watching the Dec. 21, 2018, game at home on ESPN when he heard about Elk Grove and its Makers Wanted business marketing tagline (for which the village paid $300,000 to affix to the bowl game title). He searched online to see what it was all about.
At the same time, the Oklahoma City-based gas station chain was looking to expand its presence beyond interstate highways into business areas.
Officials from the village and Love's held an introductory meeting last May to discuss potential locations. The region around O'Hare International Airport appealed to the company because it's heavily traveled and densely populated. At the end of the meeting, Bruner told Johnson that he first heard of Elk Grove after watching the bowl game.
Bruner, the company's real estate project manager, admits the village's bowl game sponsorship "seemed a little odd."
But, he says, it caught his attention.
"It looked like a business-friendly type community," Bruner said. "Those are the type of places where we want to be. The sponsorship kind of opened our eyes that Elk Grove is that kind of place."
Johnson has said the idea behind the unique sponsorship was to create brand awareness of the village's six-square-mile industrial park -- the nation's largest -- on a national and international level. Some critics have questioned if it was worth the cost.
The village board in February decided to renew the sponsorship deal for another year at the same rate. This year's contest is scheduled for Dec. 20 in Nassau.
The board Tuesday formally reviewed Love's request for a public hearing before the plan commission at a date still to be scheduled. The firm will seek a special-use permit to operate the fueling station. If approved, the company hopes to have the station open next year.
Johnson said the village would stand to receive millions in sales tax revenues in the first few years the gas station is open.