According to Visit South Bend Mishawaka (VSBM), the destination management and marketing organization for St. Joseph County, nearly 1,000 new hotel rooms have been added in the county over the past two years.
Just after opening 473 new hotel rooms in 2017, another 393 are scheduled to come on line in the coming year, with the possibility of more on the way.
That kind of surge will put pressure on hotels to keep rooms filled and maintain adequate staffing in a market with unemployment hovering around 3.6 percent.
It’s also going to put some pressure on those involved in the conventions and visitors business to bring more people to the community, said Rob DeCleene, executive director of VSBM.
“We’ll have our work cut out for us,” DeCleene said. “But in general, it’s a good problem. We’re working to turn the county into a 52-week destination.”
Beyond the obvious attraction of Notre Dame football and other events at the university, VSBM has successfully been building on youth sports for several years, hosting tournaments for soccer, baseball, lacrosse, hockey and more. DeCleene said there are opportunities to keep building on amateur sports, but the new hotels actually will help create additional opportunities.
The new 140-room Courtyard by Marriott that is under construction across from Century Center, in conjunction with the DoubleTree by Hilton and the new Aloft in the Liberty Tower, will give downtown South Bend about 618 hotel rooms.
DeCleene and South Bend officials said that’s good news for the 75,000-square-foot Century Center, as it will allow them to pursue additional conventions and special events, especially in colder months when people might not want to drive in from outlying hotels for gatherings at the center.
The new hotel at Eddy Street also won’t have a problem filling up because of its proximity to Notre Dame, and the new Holiday Inn Express will benefit by a lack of hotel rooms on the south side of South Bend and the new Four Winds casino.
“The locations of most of the new ones have been well chosen,” said DeCleene, adding that locations near downtown, Notre Dame or other spots with surrounding activity might have an easier time than some other properties.