Corvette show coming to Champaign in 2013

CHAMPAIGN — Beginning in 2013, Champaign County will host a Corvette festival that could bring 40,000 people over three days to the region.

The Bloomington Gold Corvette Show will be held on the grounds surrounding the University of Illinois Assembly Hall and in the I Hotel and Conference Center in Champaign. It will be on June 27-30, 2013, and every year after that through 2017.

As part of the 2013 event, organizers want to take a crack at breaking the Guinness world record for the most number of Corvettes in a single road tour. The tour, which would include over 2,000 Corvettes, is expected to weave through the country roads surrounding Champaign-Urbana and conclude in downtown Champaign, pending city and county approval.

Highlights of the show include a Corvette auction by Mecum Auctions, a Bloomington Gold certification judging event, a hall of fame, swap meet and more.

The Bloomington Gold Corvette Show began in the 1970s in Bloomington and eventually moved on to other cities, including Springfield. Since 2002 the show has been held at Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, a far western suburb of Chicago. The 2013 show will be the first in Champaign County.

The new location in Champaign "is naturally attractive because it's the Midwest and accessible by lots of interstates," said David Burroughs, chief executive officer of Bloomington Gold. But also important is "the brand personality of the town," he said.

"We have to have a small-town atmosphere with big-town infrastructure," Burroughs said.

Among the many reasons they chose Champaign County was the potential for owners to drive country roads in the area and the ease with which Corvette owners can drive to the show.

Champaign County also hosts Vintage Weekend, the American Street Rod Association event in Rantoul in the fall, and the Parkland College Car Show in the spring.

"This is on a different scale," said Jayne DeLuce, president of the Champaign County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

DeLuce attended the Bloomington Gold Show in St. Charles this past summer to get a sense of what it was all about.

"It's a pretty amazing sight," she said.

"Our goal is to showcase Champaign County and we want to do it for different audiences," she said. That includes the IHSA state football championship games in the fall and the Illinois Marathon in the spring.

"With Corvettes, it's a very unique type of event. This is a very different kind of car show. It's high-end and owners are traveling from all over to attend," DeLuce said.

It's possible some attendees never have set foot in Champaign County. DeLuce hopes they will come back for multiple visits.

About 60 percent of the event's attendees come from the Midwest, according to Ed Saari, chief financial officer with Bloomington Gold. In previous years some showgoers have come from abroad to buy Corvettes at auction or shipped their Corvettes to the U.S. to have them certified by Bloomington Gold.

Saari said the Pheasant Run facility is great, but the event hasn't attracted as many people as organizers have wanted. And perhaps one of the reasons was people didn't want to drive into the Chicago region, he said.

Bloomington Gold is said to draw about 40,000 people over its three days. On each day, 2,000 to 3,000 Corvettes can be found in town, according to Saari.

DeLuce anticipates area hotels (there are about 3,500 hotel rooms in the county) will sell out.

Champaign County residents can attend the show, view or participate in the auction or catch the road tour as it makes its way through the county or when it culminates in downtown Champaign.

"Hosting one of these events lends itself to other types of events," DeLuce said. "We want to be able to be known to do these kinds of events."

Champaign-Urbana is fortunate, she said, for being at the crossroads of several highways, and "we have to capitalize on that."

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BigTenFan wrote on December 20, 2011 at 10:12 am

Can you be more specific on what the "grounds" around Assembly Hall and the I Hotel are?  The only "grounds" I am familiar with are concrete or asphalt.  A car show being held on concrete and asphalt is a recipe for disaster.  If it is a hot day the heat beating off these pavements will not be spectator or participant friendly.  Why not hold it in the grass lots north of Assembly Hall?  If the threat of rain is high, then move the cars to the asphalt and concrete parking lots as a backup plan.  I like the idea of the car show and good job on landing it Champaign County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

 

 

CJ Williams wrote on December 20, 2011 at 10:12 am

But do NOT let them go 500 yards east.  That would be urbana, who has its own marketing plan.   Lets see....40k people over three days.  They spend at least 10 dollars each in town.. thats 400k that was not possible but for the Convention and Visitors bureau.  of course it is cars and one's that use lots of gas, so that probably does not match the Prius crowds in Urbana.

billbtri5 wrote on December 20, 2011 at 11:12 am

really,  they're holding out for the Birkenstock Nationals...

billbtri5 wrote on December 20, 2011 at 11:12 am

that's a good catch for this community....

Vet Guy wrote on December 20, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Wow, I do not know how good of an idea this is to move the event to Champaign??  The resort venue in St. Charles offered so much I am not sure how this will end up working on the U of I campus.  I really liked the event being contained all in one spot at the resort, their golf course was awesome when we took it over with all of the cars.  Between the hotel rooms, restaurants and everything under one roof, so to speak, it was a pretty great set-up that my wife & I looked forward to each year.  Looks like the promoter is just trying to make more $$, possibly at the detriment to the attendees.  I agree, an asphalt staging area for the cars will be a disaster.  I will feel like I am tailgating at Soldier Field!!


 

rmckau972 wrote on December 20, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Maybe the Corvette Tour of 2000 cars can drive by Laurel Prussing's house led by a banner saying "Champaign County Convention and Visitor's Bureau"!!!  Everyone should encourage all visitors to this event to stay at motels and eat at restaurants in Champaign, Mahomet and Rantoul and NOT Urbana.

Marty wrote on December 21, 2011 at 11:12 am

Of course Urbana will benefit from the visitors as all of the Champaign hotels will fill and people will be forced to stay there. Some are bound to eat in Urbana, but that will probably be minimal, since there aren't all that many options. Most of the gas will probably be bought in Champaign as well.

It will be nice to have the show in Champaign, but the state fairgrounds or Rantoul would be better.