South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority has recently developed a partnership with Valparaiso University's Athletic Department. While the SSCVA, the City of Valparaiso and Valparaiso University have worked together on numerous events in the past, the official partnership will bring greater benefits to all parties.

The partnership helped Valparaiso University's Athletic Department purchase a state-of-the-art scorer's table, which is important for the men's basketball nationally televised games. The partnership also allows South Shore CVA to streamline the hotel booking process for teams and spectators. These additions to the Valparaiso University Athletic Department will aid them as they bid on national championships and NCAA tourneys.

"Valparaiso University has the only Division I athletic program between Chicago and South Bend, so we really are Northwest Indiana's home team," said Mark LaBarbera, director of athletics for Valparaiso University.

"A lot of people outside of the region look to the South Shore CVA for information. We want them to see that national-quality events happen here, and because of the reach of the South Shore CVA and their ability to communicate well, it is a beneficial partnership for us," said LaBarbera.

The City of Valparaiso, Valparaiso University and the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority have worked together on other sporting events, always showcasing their shared vision of regionalism.

In 2012, the National Softball Association's Girls Fast Pitch "B" World Series held their opening ceremonies in downtown Valparaiso, while games were played in Lake, Porter and LaPorte Counties. The event booked rooms in 43 different hotels in five counties and four states.

Lutheran Basketball Association of America's annual national championships are also held in Valparaiso, booking about 2,500 rooms between the three counties and contributing an estimated $625,000 in estimated economic impact.

"When amateur sports enthusiasts and fans come here for an event, they're not coming to stay in Lake County, Porter County or La Porte County, they're coming for the event. We're going to offer them additional activities to enjoy while they're here," said Speros Batistatos, president and CEO of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority.

"What Valparaiso University and the South Shore CVA are doing is saying 'look at all the great features of Northwest Indiana, look at what we have.' The region has so much to offer, and it will only continue to benefit everyone when we sell it as a package," said Batistatos.

Be sure to tune into ESPNU on Saturday, February 23 at noon to see the partnership in action as the Crusaders Men's Basketball team takes on Eastern Kentucky at the ARC.