Elk Grove Village's marketing efforts will head back to the Bahamas next winter after village board members decided Tuesday to renew the town's sponsorship of the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl.
With three days left to exercise a one-year option on the original contract, trustees voted unanimously to renew the deal to keep the village's marketing tagline affixed to the college football game, scheduled for December 2019 in Nassau, Bahamas.
Elk Grove will pay ESPN Productions, Inc., which operates the bowl game, the same $300,000 sponsorship fee, while village officials say they're planning again to spend at least another $100,000 on commercials, production and other marketing related to the sponsorship.
"We're excited about the opportunity to do it again," said Mayor Craig Johnson, who came up with the sponsorship idea in late 2017 after watching college bowl games. "We make no preconceived beliefs that we're going to get the same amount of coverage we did last year. Hopefully it continues to keep our name out there. We're going to try to continue to build Elk Grove as a brand name in the eyes of the business world."
When the original agreement was inked last July, Elk Grove became the first non-tourist municipality to sponsor a bowl game. The unconventional approach was seen as a way to expand the reach of a local and regional campaign promoting the village's massive industrial park to a national and international audience.
While Johnson said it would take some time to see new companies moving to Elk Grove, he is encouraged by the phone calls officials have received from business owners who are interested, and hits to makerswanted.org. But moreso, he says he's pleased with the marketing value and brand identification Elk Grove has received.
Village trustees were on board with re-upping the sponsorship deal Tuesday night, if at first they were skeptical when Johnson first suggested it last year.
"We want to continue to keep the business park full," said Trustee Sam Lissner. "And to get new businesses from other countries and states and not taking them from our neighbors and even Chicago. It doesn't do our state any good to take them from other towns or just moving them around."
Trustee Jeff Franke said at first he was "dead against" the deal, but then talked to more and more residents who weren't opposed to it. He also had extensive conversations with the mayor to drill down on what the village got out of it.
Franke says he wants to see "bricks and mortar" -- as in new businesses -- by the time the bowl game airs.
Johnson said another local contingent of businesses is expected to make the trip to the Bahamas, including Stern Pinball, which is again planning a pinball tournament for the two football teams. Any village officials that go will again pay their own way, he said.