New England

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The Northeast: Taking it to the People

31 Dec, 2011

By: Juli Anne Patty

An event that calls the Northeast home has instant access to a rich participant and fan base with some of America’s largest cities in easy driving distance. New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Providence are all major population centers. Though the Census Bureau doesn’t technically consider Washington D.C. part of the Northeast, it’s also an effortless commute.

2011 Rock n' Roll Half Marathon - Photo courtesy of Competitor Group

 

All of these major metro areas come with another benefit: a wealth of facilities. The Northeast has some of the country’s most beloved professional sports franchises, as well as a concentration of colleges and universities like nowhere else in the country. Add to that the experience of the Northeast’s well-established, sports-zealous communities, and you’ve got a region that’s ready, willing and enthusiastically able to host any sports event of any size, any time. 

 

Butler County, Ohio

The U.S. Census Bureau counts Ohio in the Midwest, but some people consider the state a part of the Northeast due to its Eastern time zone. Whatever your stance, many of Ohio’s communities – such as Butler County – are within a day's drive of 65% of the U.S. population. With world-class sports facilities like the West Chester Baseball Complex, the Tri-State Dragway, Voice of America Park and Wake Nation, Butler County is well worth a stop.  

InfoCision Stadium at The University of Akron - Photo courtesy of The University of Akron

The New Year is going to be an exciting one in Butler County with a number of high-profile events coming to town. “We’re very excited to be welcoming the 7th Grade Girls' Basketball Division I, II & III National Championships back to town,” says Stephanie Gigliotti, sales manager, sports and events, Butler County Visitors Bureau. “In 2010, they were here for five to seven days, and it was a big hit for both the athletes and for our community.”  

Butler County’s Miami University will welcome the Esynchro U.S. Age Group Synchronized Swimming Championships in 2012. More than 1,200 athletes will converge upon the Corwin M. Nixon Aquatic Center, a facility that offers an eight-lane, 50-meter pool in addition to a separate 25-meter well, containing one-, five-, seven-, and 10-meter diving platforms. The aquatic center has been the host of several major and national competitions and a training facility for Olympic divers. 

USA Archery will make a visit to Hamilton, Ohio, making the community the first ever to host a new combined event: the National Target and Junior Olympic Archery Development (JOAD) Championships.  

Ohio may not be known for its coastline, but watersports venues actually abound in Butler County. In 2011, Voice of America Park, a 435-acre park featuring a 35-acre stocked lake, welcomed back the World Disabled Water Ski Championships for another successful event.

 

Akron/Summit, Ohio

In the northeast corner of Ohio, Akron/Summit is ready to deliver in just about any sport imaginable. From ski slopes to soccer fields, Ohio’s only national park to InfoCision Stadium at The University of Akron, this community’s sports opportunities abound, but Akron/Summit has a heart for sports too.

Firestone Stadium - Home of the Akron Racers - Photo courtesy of Bruce S. Ford

 

Team Sports Tournaments, a youth sports tournament organization, has quickly become one of the top tournament hosts in the region. Last year, over 700 youth baseball and softball teams from Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York and Canada attended Team Sports Tournaments’ events.   

 

Rhoades Arena - The university of Akron - Photo courtesy of The University of Akron Athletics Department

The Northeast Ohio Basketball Association (NEOBA) began in 1995 with the concept of using basketball to bring kids from all walks of life together on the common ground of sports. It’s an approach that has created success both on and off the court. Since its 2005 debut, the organization’s key event, the King James Shooting Stars Classic, has grown to over 700 teams, including 42 girls' teams. 

The 10th season for the Akron Racers, National Professional Women’s Fastpitch League, was another big success. General Manager Joey Arrietta has been the heart of the franchise since its inception, when she convinced the city to upgrade Firestone Stadium and then brought numerous events to Akron, including the NCAA II National Championship, six Mid-American Softball Tournaments, the PONY National Championship and numerous amateur softball tournaments and all-star events. 

 

Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

If you're heading for the keystone state (a.k.a. Pennsylvania), take a timeout in Lehigh Valley. A wide range of excellent facilities, from golf courses (seven), to college campuses (eight) to multi-purpose facilities (hey, it's the home of the Lehigh Valley Rollergirls) and more, will fit any planner's needs.  

Golf courses range from public to private, and everything in between, as well as disc golf. Those who need winter sports facilities can find skiing, snowboarding and tubing at Bear Creek Mountain Resort and Blue Mountain Ski Area, and ice skating and hockey at the Steel Ice Center. Cyclists use the slopes for mountain biking in summer, but those who prefer a concrete track can explore The Valley Preferred Cycling Center, one of only 18 velodromes in the country. 

In need of space for field sports? Lehigh Valley boasts a wealth of parks. The Rauch Fieldhouse and the Stabler Arena, meanwhile, provide indoor facilities for a range of facilities, including basketball, indoor football and soccer, wrestling, lacrosse and field hockey.

 

Monroeville, Pennsylvania

Exploring Pennsylvania? Make time for Monroeville, located just 12 miles east of Pittsburgh, with easy access to the Pennsylvania Turnpike. With its 21 municipal parks that include more than 650 acres of parkland, you're sure to find facilities to fit every need. Softball, deck hockey, baseball, soccer, football, golf and any outdoor recreational activity is possible. For indoor events, Monroeville offers nearby premium facilities for aquatics, racquet sports, rugby, ice hockey, soccer, basketball or volleyball.

Athletic Championships Platinum Event - Photo courtesy of Rhode Island Sports Commission

 

The Monroeville Convention Center (MCC), Western Pennsylvania’s newest convention center, has 100,584 square feet of exhibition space that can function as an ideal spot for numerous types of indoor sports events.

 

Binghamton, New York

With professional, semi-pro, college and amateur sports teams, Greater Binghamton has it all—and the facilities to go with it. The city’s many state-of-the-art, multi-use athletic facilities offer an assortment of sporting events all year round, and those facilities are growing in 2012. 

“There’s a project under construction at Binghamton University (BU),” says Judi Hess, tourism and special events manager, Greater Binghamton Convention & Visitors Bureau. “BU is redoing their baseball field, as well as doing a complete renovation of their tennis courts, which will not only increase their number of courts but also make it a truly tournament-worthy facility.” 

A softball hub in the Northeast, Binghamton will also welcome the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team, who will play in the Binghamton Mets at NYSEG Stadium Memorial Day weekend.

 

Hartford, Connecticut

The Connecticut Convention Center has hosted everything from bridal shows to volleyball tournaments to competitive cheerleading. The facility has floor-to-ceiling glass with excellent views, 140,000 square feet of exhibit space, a 40,000-square-foot ballroom, multiple meetings rooms and board rooms, as well as accessibility to the attached Marriott Hotel, which offers more than 400 guest rooms. The convention center overlooks the Connecticut River at Adriaen’s Landing, the city’s new riverfront district.

 

Providence, Rhode Island

There’s one place in the Northeast where they like to say, You buy a city, but you get a whole state. That would be Providence, and it’s a city that lives for sports. 

“We’re the smallest state in the country, and it plays to our advantage. Even if you need to go to a facility that’s on the other side of the state, it’s probably no more than 30 minutes away,” says Brian Hodge, communications and social media manager, Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau.  

Athletic Championships Platinum Event. Photo courtesy of Rhode Island Sports Commission

The organizers of the Rock ‘n’ roll Race Series certainly agreed, choosing Providence for their first New England half-marathon, and Providence certainly delivered: 7,300 people registered.  

Last November, Providence also became home to a wildly popular and growing event with the Major League Gaming (MLG) National Championships, an event for the largest professional video game league in the world. In MLG, the action is virtual, but there’s still plenty of it. Over one weekend, the event drew approximately 10,000 visitors.  

While gamers took over one floor of the Rhode Island Convention & Entertainment Complex, another major event was rocking the city, the 36th Annual New England Oireachtas, an Irish dancing competition that drew around 3,000 people and, in combination with the MLG championships, generated $2 million in economic impact. 

Are you ready for some sports? The Northeast is.

 

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