Sports Facilities

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America's 'Must-See' Sports Facilities

31 Aug, 2009

By: J.R. Murray

Any sports event planner knows that the key to a successful event relies heavily on the action on the field, but almost more importantly is the field itself, or rather the facility. With the abundance of fine facilities located throughout the United States, finding the right location can be a daunting task. With the level of competition consistently increasing and athletes becoming more selective on which tournaments they compete in, finding the location that fits all of your expectations is critical.

Here are some options to consider.

Binghamton, New York
Since 1973, the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena has been providing sports and entertainment for the residents of the Greater Binghamton area. The BCVA is a 6,800 seat (4,910 permanent) multi-purpose arena in Binghamton, New York. The design was created by a college student who had won a public design competition.

"The key thing is that the arena has been our home for the AHL but has also hosted a variety of other sports from basketball to gymnastics," explains Judi Hess, manager Tourism and Special Events for the Greater Binghamton Convention & Visitors Bureau. "It gives us some flexibility, but also provides an intimate setting."

The first act at the arena was the Barnum & Bailey Circus, in May 1973. Chicago played the first concert at the arena (with Bruce Springsteen as the opener) on June 20, 1973. The first regular tenants of the arena were the Binghamton Dusters of the North American Hockey League.

Today, the Broome County Arena is home to the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League, an affiliate with the Ottawa Senators of the NHL. The Broome County Arena was home to the 2008 AHL All-Star Classic.

Every December, the arena also plays host to the Stop-DWI Holiday Classic. Aside from professional and scholastic sports, the Arena is also host to an array of other events, including concerts, family shows, ice shows and trade shows.

Check out www.broomearena.com for more information.

Botetourt, Virginia
The Botetourt Sports Complex is a first-rate facility in a gorgeous setting with a staff committed to excellence. The state-of-the-art facility is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia just minutes outside downtown Roanoke. With 360 degree views of the surrounding mountains, it's as easy to get caught up in the scenery as it is the play on the field.

The complex boasts four championship-level softball and youth baseball fields, a center tower with a surrounding porch for shade, space between fields for breaks from games, ample parking, a walking track and a playground. The Botetourt Sports Complex is located within the 125-acre Greenfield Recreation Park, which features a cross-country course, soccer fields, and a hiking and equestrian trail.

It's a sports planner's dream - top rate venue and ample hotel rooms in a naturally beautiful region that is centrally located, easily accessible and affordable. There's no place better to get your game on than Botetourt County of Virginia. See why youth, amateur, collegiate and senior sports fans have all called BSC a "great complex for teams and fans."

For more information, please visit www.co.botetourt.va.us.

Bowling Green, Kentucky
The Course at Olde Stone, designed by internationally acclaimed golf architect Arthur Hills, is destined to be a classic. Created with a deep respect for the land, Hills was given free reign to create a masterpiece on terrain that he describes as "one of the absolute best sites we've worked on." Bent grass fairways and greens are dotted with dazzling white sand bunkers. Mostly trees and native grasses line the fairways of this core course and strategically-placed boxes insure a challenging game no matter what your skill level.

"To have a course of this magnitude is of benefit to any community, and Old Stone is a true showcase point for Bowling Green and the region," said Amy Caldwell. "Mr. Scott has done a phenomenal job with the course and the club. It provides a vacation feel and it challenges traditional courses like Augusta and Sawgrass. It's a very tough course. It can be PGA ready in three days and has added a great element to our welcoming community, but it's a piece of old world and high class as well."

Designed to provide an outstanding golfing experience, The Course at Olde Stone is artfully woven into the landscape, which is a combination of hills, flatlands, trees, grassland and water. There is a difference of 160 vertical feet between the highest and lowest points on the course and water hazards come into play on five holes.

Fairways and greens are planted in Bent grass and approximately 50 grass-lined bunkers filled with fine white sand line the fairways and guard the greens. The Course is a par 72 and ranges between 5,400 and 7,400 yards, depending on which of the five tee boxes you play.

Olde Stone has been a fabulous addition to the Bowling Green landscape. For more information please visit: www.bowlinggreensports.com.

Knoxville, Tennessee
Whatever the size and scope of the sports event, Knoxville has the facilities and planning services to help it be successful and memorable.

The cornerstone of the city's extensive inventory of venues is the Knoxville Convention Center (KCC). Completed in 2002, the Center is located in the heart of downtown Knoxville and is adjacent to World's Fair Park and the city's signature icon, the Sunsphere.

Its more than half-million square feet (surrounded by expansive outdoor lawns and festival areas) may be tailored for almost any event. The Center includes 120,000 square feet of continuous exhibit space that can be suited to fit a group of any size.

Since its grand opening in 2002, the Knoxville Convention Center (KCC) has already played host to numerous sports events such as the American Bowling Congress, AAU Junior Olympic Games and the USA Gymnastics Boy's Region 8 - just to name a few! Plus, the KCC holds a convenient and spectacular downtown location and proximity to numerous attractions such as Volunteer Landing (a vibrant riverfront featuring restaurants and entertainment), the East Tennessee History Center and the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.

So, Knoxville's Convention Center has great services, flexible space, East Tennessee décor, and a perfect location in downtown Knoxville. It's the perfect place to host your next sporting event!

For more information, please visit www.knoxville.org.

Medford, Oregon
U.S. Cellular Community Park is a state-of-the-art Sports Park with 11 fields (seven baseball/softball; five multi-sport permanently lined for soccer and football). Eleven fields feature Field Turf synthetic grass. When complete, USCCP will feature 15 ball fields, including a five-field softball/baseball complex, a five-field multi-sport complex, two full-size baseball fields and two youth baseball/fast pitch fields. Harry & David Field, a natural-grass baseball stadium, was built in 2004.

USCCP is distinctive for its all-weather, fence-to-fence artificial turf playing surfaces. The facility will feature over 1.1 million square feet of Field Turf-brand synthetic grass - the largest facility of its kind in the United States.

Medford is the ideal destination for family activities with a large range of affordable dining and lodging. With over 2,500 sleeping rooms available, finding affordable accommodations is easy and getting there is easier. Located just minutes off major interstates and highways, U.S. Cellular Community Park is easily accessible from the Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport.

USCCP is home to the Jefferson Nature Center, which serves as a hub along the 19-mile Bear Creek Greenway pathway that stretches from Ashland to Central Point following Bear Creek. It offers plenty of area shopping that is centrally located to area accommodations, restaurants and other attractions.

For more details, please visit www.medfordsports.org or www.sportsmedford.com.

Mesa, Arizona
Julio César Chávez, one of the greatest boxers of all time and the most celebrated athlete in Mexico, is venturing into the business world with a namesake venue, Julio César Chávez Campeones (Champions). Julio is known the world around as the "Mexican Warrior." He is a six- time world champion and holds the most decorated winning streak in boxing ever, 90-0.

Julio César Chávez Campeones is a 32,000-square-foot sports and entertainment venue that encompasses all the energy of a championship fight with an impressive video display sports bar, an authentic Mexican restaurant, a WBC Legends of Boxing Museum, video arcade and an entertainment venue to host 1,800+ for live concerts, private events and sports viewing parties.

Campeones is the first of its kind in the U.S. that will cater to the Hispanic and sports aficionado communities with quality Mariscos (seafood), Carne Asada and a 501(c)3 charity with boxing memorabilia. Campeones will showcase all the Mexican Soccer League and World Cup games along with Pay-Per-View and live boxing events all under one roof. Julio César Chávez Campeones is scheduled to open September 2009.

"Campeones is already putting Mesa in the national spotlight helping expand on our reputation as a sports-driven destination," said Robert Brinton, president and CEO of the Mesa Convention & Visitors Bureau. "More importantly, now we have a product that will reach an international market. As for tourism, it's a dream venue to promote. Here, visitors can experience the action of live competitive sports with the desired entertainment elements of dining, games, nightlife and even a museum component. This variety in one place will appeal to a broad, diverse, and new audience for Mesa. We really have something special with Campeones."

For more information, please visit www.juliocesarchavez.net.

Rock Hill, South Carolina
The premier sporting events destination in the Southeast is Rock Hill, South Carolina, located in York County. This destination provides year-round access to the region's top sports facilities and waterways with unmatched turn-key service.

York County has championship fishing and blue-ribbon water recreation and is home to the oldest lake on the Catawba River - Lake Wylie. It's a renowned destination for year-round fishing and water sports with its 13,443 acres and 325 miles of shoreline; Lake Wylie is also ideal for boating, water skiing and sailing. The host site for the 2004 Bassmaster Classic, Lake Wylie is located less than 20 miles from the US National Whitewater Center.

"Lakes Wylie is a tremendous asset to us as a whole," said Robert Thomas, Sports Marketing coordinator for the Rock Hill/York County Convention and Visitors Bureau. "It's largely sought after by a lot of tournaments and events and it's a great location for local citizens to use for recreation. When you couple that with the great year round weather we have, it makes an awesome destination for folks to come and experience."

Complimented by easy access and affordability, visitors are sure to leave with lasting memories. But the experience does not have to stop there, visitors can enjoy 2,300 acres of pristine land filled with spacious forests, rambling terrain, shimmering lakes and rolling pastures at the Leroy Springs & Company's Anne Springs Close Greenway. The area offers all the amenities of a big city tempered with real, authentic history and sincere Southern hospitality.

York County remains an undiscovered, uncompromised destination within a thriving metropolitan region. You may visit the Rock Hill/York County Convention and Visitors Bureau online at www.visityorkcounty.com.

San Angelo, Texas
The City of San Angelo has recently completed the much-anticipated Texas Bank Sports Complex and Rio Concho Community Park. This amazing facility will be sure to attract major tournaments with its lush fields and beautiful scenery. In addition, both operations and programming staff is committed to providing quality leagues and fields.

"The expanded sports facilities are very important for economic development," said Pamela Miller, vice president of San Angelo Chamber of Commerce. "We have had several teams tournaments express interest in hosting their event here. To have one facility that has so many possibilities is a plus-plus for San Angelo. And adding to the existing facilities throughout town makes San Angelo a great sports destination."

This venue offers sports opportunities in the areas of softball, baseball, multi-purpose fields for flag football, kickball, and sand volleyball, as well as a community park with scenic river views for all to enjoy.

The $12 million project, funded with the city's half-cent sales tax dollars, is four times the size of the former complex (roughly 80 acres).

Texas Bank Sports Complex is now home to 11 softball fields - two little league fields, one tee-ball field, and one large baseball field. Some fields have been constructed as multi-purpose so that other sports may use the fields as well.

For more information, please visit www.sanangelo.org.

Springfield, Missouri
The Cooper Tennis Complex is the center of the community tennis programs in southwest Missouri. The Cooper Tennis Complex and its professional staff have hosted many major events including WTT Laser matches, NCAA college matches, Missouri State High School Tennis Championships, Missouri Valley and Missouri District tennis tournaments, USTA National Tournaments, Community Olympic Development Tennis Programs, and an outreach tennis instructional program through the Springfield Public Schools.

Recently, Springfield was named by the USTA as one of the top 10 Best Tennis Towns in the U.S. The Cooper Tennis Complex is the hub for the Springfield tennis community.

The combination of the Cooper Tennis Complex, one of the premier facilities in the U.S. and its experienced professional staff make up a world class team. The Cooper Tennis staff was named the Missouri Valley Facility of the Year in 2006 and the TIA has named it one of the top 50 Tennis Welcome Centers in the U.S.

For more information, please visit www.springfieldmo.org.

Yuma, Arizona
When it's time to play, rain is the last thing you need! So first up for your next event ought to be Yuma, recognized by Guinness as the sunniest place on earth.

Great weather is only the beginning. Just halfway between San Diego and Phoenix along the Colorado River, Yuma offers nearly 4,000 hotel rooms, daily commercial air service and easy Interstate access - plus great bargains and a warm small-town welcome.

Formerly spring training home of the San Diego Padres, Yuma's Ray Kroc Baseball Complex boasts major-league facilities, including a 7,000-seat stadium with all the bells and whistles, three additional practice fields and full clubhouse amenities.

At the same 250-acre sports complex are Yuma Civic Center (a 43,000-square-foot multi-purpose facility) and Desert Hills Golf Course (a par 72 championship course that's hosted professional events like the Ben Hogan and Nike tours and ranked as the best public golf course in Arizona by Golf Digest magazine).

Desert Hills is just one of 16 diverse and challenging area golf courses (total 234 holes), including the Arnold Palmer-designed Mesa del Sol Golf Club. No wonder Golf Digest has rated Yuma as the 7th best golf city in the country.

To learn more, please visit www.visityuma.com.

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