Over the years, the small town of Rosemont thrived on its convention center, hotels and a few attractions for the business traveler. Until recently, visitors to the small town didn’t have many options for things to do once the work day was done.
Things have certainly changed.
There is now a new shopping center with more than 130 brand-name outlet stores, an entertainment district with well-known restaurants, sporting venues and more.
“In the past, there was a lacking of things to do at night after business was done for the day,” said Billy Anderson, general manager of Rosemont Convention & Tourism Bureau. “That is not the case now. There is now a lot of activity here.”
Allstate Arena, Rosemont Theatre, Rosemont Stadium for softball and MB Financial Park, a de-facto town square filled with restaurants and entertainment venues including a bowling alley and ice skating rink, are a few of the highlights attracting people in the hospitality industry to Rosemont.
The village is finding that travelers are coming for business and staying for the overall entertainment experience, often bringing their families, Anderson said. He added that more than 1 million people a year go through the convention center and those people now have more reason than ever to stay in Rosemont, a village that only covers 2.5 square miles.
Rosemont is lucky in that it is located conveniently at the convergence of I-90 and I-294, drawing a large number of area commuters, said Nick Harkin, a spokesman for MB Financial Park. It also has a stop on the CTA’s Blue Line L. He said many of these commuters are coming back on the weekends for the entertainment found in the village.
“In the suburbs, Rosemont is the entertainment destination to go to,” Harkin said. Highlights include Kings, a 29,000-square-foot entertainment venue featuring 20 bowling lanes and three bars; Five Roses Pub, an authentic Irish pub and Hofbrauhaus modeled after the famous 400 year-old Hofbrauhaus in Munich Germany. “It was an accomplishment for Hofbrauhaus to come here. The only other one is found in Las Vegas,” Anderson said.
In addition to dining and entertainment, shopping has been another huge draw. Harkin said the two-story, 530,000-square-foot Fashion Outlets of Chicago is a huge hit. “The mall is a huge attraction — it’s rivaling Michigan Avenue,” Harkin said.
Anderson agreed, adding that the mall is seeing about 10,000 cars a day parked in its lot.
He said the upscale mall is drawing more interest in people booking shows at the convention center. “We are branding it the right way,” he said.
Anderson recently met with dozens of planners at a conference in Las Vegas and found tremendous interest in Rosemont. In talking with industry planners, he found that people are attracted to the Rosemont’s proximity to O’Hare International Airport and the easy ability to network. “There is free transportation from the hotels to the convention center,” Anderson said, adding that visitors enjoy that the entertainment, conventions and hotels are compact, allowing for prime networking opportunities.
“It’s convenient,” he said.
The small village has a tremendous vision developed by the late Donald E. Stephens, Rosemont’s founder and longtime mayor. His son, Mayor Bradley A. Stephens is now taking his vision to the next level.
“The mayor is educated on tourism and knows what the tourism dollar brings to Rosemont,” Anderson said. He added entertainment and shopping were additional puzzle pieces assisting in the village’s growth. “It’s like an oiled machine that works well together,” he said.