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Setting a Course for Santa Clarita, CA

29 Apr, 2011

By: Juli Anne Patty

A description of Santa Clarita, California, reads like a sports destination wish list: championship facilities, an enthusiastic sports community and the kinds of hotels, restaurants and attractions that fill travelers' dreams. Just 20 minutes north of the Burbank Airport, Santa Clarita is within easy reach of all of sights of Los Angeles, but this quintessential California town has so many charms of its own, most people never want to leave.

The Picture of Health
A supportive community is one of the most crucial factors in launching a successful sports event, and one of the easiest ways to find a supportive community is this: follow the sports. Santa Clarita is a city of health-minded sports fans and participants, a characteristic that shows up loud and clear in the city's sports and recreation facilities.

"Santa Clarita is a community that values a healthy lifestyle and provides opportunities for residents and visitors to enjoy that lifestyle," says Rick Gould, director of parks, recreation and community services, City of Santa Clarita. "We believe that by investing in infrastructure that empowers a healthy lifestyle, we're creating a more attractive community not only for residents, but also for our visitors. And that's good both for tourism and for economic development. It's good for everyone."

That commitment to creating and maintaining the highest standard of sports and recreation opportunities has resulted in a community with an abundance of sporting possibilities. The Santa Clarita Marathon is the perfect example.

A City of Trails
"The Santa Clarita marathon is a growing event and very unique: 95 percent of the race is run on our public trails system," says Gould.

The City of Santa Clarita's Parks, Recreation, and Community Services Department has created more than 60 miles of picturesque trails and paseos- pathway systems that feature lighted, paved walkways, bridges, and tunnels- that visitors and members of community use for both for commuting and recreation, including walking, riding, jogging and skating. The regional river trail serves as the backbone of the trail system and unites with a number of connecting trails, offering on-foot access to much of the city.

But during the first weekend of November, those tails are filled with hundreds of marathoners. An official qualifying race for the Boston Marathon, the Santa Clarita marathon has a reputation for beautiful scenery and some of the best weather in the running world. The festivities include not just a full marathon, but also a half marathon, a 5K and even a Kid K run.

In 2011, the Santa Clarita Marathon Race Committee will incorporate newly opened trails along the San Francisquito Creek in the half marathon and marathon. The City is also hosting a pre-race Health and Fitness Expo.

The Santa Clarita Aquatics Center
Santa Clarita is also a sensational swimming destination with a facility that has put this city on the aquatics map in a big way.

"We support a number of major athletic events for youth, including many USA Swimming events and the 2009 Southern California Swimming Junior Olympics," says Gould.

The five-day Junior Olympics attracted more than 2,000 visitors each day and featured long course 50 meter swimming competitions. Underscoring the strong support of Santa Clarita's community, the city co-hosted the event with the local U.S. Club Swim Team, the Canyons Aquatics Club.

"The Canyons Aquatics Club is a fantastic organization and a great partner for the competitive events that come to our city," says Gould. "The Santa Clarita Aquatic Center is known as a very fast pool, built to the highest standards for championship competition. We're very proud to have this facility in our community."

Built for both serious competition and also serious fun, the Santa Clarita Aquatic Center offers three pools, including a 50 meter competition pool with a competition timing system, a 25 meter dive pool and an activity pool complete with water play equipment and a 160 foot water slide. With concession facilities, locker/changing rooms and plenty of parking, the Aquatic Center is equipped to handle events of any size and competition level.

So Many Ways To Play
In true California style, Santa Clarita embraces a wide variety of events, classic and progressive, such as world-class cycling, championship golf and some killer skateboarding.

Santa Clarita hosts the coveted final start on the eight-day Amgen Tour of California, America's most successful cycling event and one of the nation's largest and most recognized annual sports events. The event draws some of the world's best cyclists to compete for the highest prize purse of any cycling race in North America.

The city also has the PGA stamp of approval, serving as host of the AT&T Champions Classic Golf Tournament, an event that brought the top PGA Champions to Santa Clarita this March at Valencia Country Club. The 18-hole private course, designed by famed golf course architect Robert Trent Jones, Sr., has hosted hundreds of golf outings since 1965 from small events to the PGA Tour and L.A. Open.

Santa Clarita is also home to a new, state-of-the-art 40,000 square foot skatepark, already being touted as one of the nation's best skating destinations. Open in 2010, with an investment of approximately $1.5 million, the Santa Clarita Skatepark is located in the City's Sports Complex and features large bowls, a Street Plaza, Half-Pipe Tunnel, Snake Runs and Skate-able Planters. Santa Clarita earned its skate cred with the Volcom "Wild in the Parks" Tour, an annual event that the new skatepark will take on once again this June.

A Santa Clarita Classic
Sports are supreme in Santa Clarita, but these Californians know that there's more than one way to play, and they invite thousands of tourists each month to join their festivities. One such celebration is the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival held each April at to Melody Ranch™ Motion Picture Studio and other venues throughout Santa Clarita.

The Cowboy Festival celebrates the tradition of western music and features award-winning and beloved artists. Visitors don their boots and cowboy hats and settle in to enjoy classic Western foods, trick ropers, authentic gear, living history exhibits and kids' projects.

Multicultural entertainment is also a highlight of the Cowboy Festival with performances by the Eagle Spirit Dancers and authentic Hispanic cultural performances.

Ready for Anything
Resources abound in Santa Clarita. Sunshine is almost limitless. Sports facilities, from baseball/softball to soccer to the new cross country course at Central Park, are plentiful in Santa Clarita as well. But beyond just facilities, this is a city that also knows service.

The City of Santa Clarita offers a variety of services, at no expense, to the organizers of sports event to help streamline the planning process. There to help you every step of the way, staff in the city's Economic Development Office provide assistance with a range of planning tasks, from Request for Proposal (RFP) coordination to press and media coordination. In Santa Clarita, the general rule of thumb is, Whatever you need, just ask.

And if you're looking for appealing attractions, Santa Clarita has those, too. Six Flags Magic Mountain & Six Flags Hurricane Harbor offer fun for the whole family, and the city also boasts some of the Golden State's most coveted golf courses, wine lounges, retail shopping and live music events.

Finding the perfect place to rest between games or celebrate your event is also easy, with more than 1,800 guest rooms and over 40,000 square feet of meeting space. Hundreds of restaurants, from national brands to specialty eateries, make it just as easy to please every member of the family or to plan a group event for the entire team.

In the end, people come back to Santa Clarita because it's the sports destination that offers more than a game and more than a vacation. Santa Clarita offers the total package. For more information about how to bring your event to Santa Clarita, check out www.visitsantaclarita.com.

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