The Alamance Advantage: Burlington, NC
29 Apr, 2011By: Juli Anne Patty
Location is key for drawing a strong crowd to a sports event, and there's one location that has a lock on centrality: Alamance County, North Carolina. Located not just in the center of the state, Alamance County sits in the center of the Eastern Seaboard, putting it within eight hours of nearly every major population center in the eastern U.S. Fortunately, Alamance County and Burlington, its largest city, have capitalized on this crucial component with an impressive array of sports facilities, making itself a sports destination dream.
A Not-So-Hidden Gem
Balance is not an easy thing to achieve, but some communities perfect the art of providing big time sports services while maintaining the affordable small town. Alamance County is one of those communities.
A destination made up of nine cities and towns, Alamance combines metropolitan amenities with the enthusiasm and support of its close communities. Alamance is the kind of place that hosts major national sports tournaments, such as the Amateur Softball Association's (ASA) Slow Pitch Men's Senior East National Championships, but also supports hometown events like the 80th Annual Uncle Eli's Quilting Party.
Alamance shows the same balance in its sports facilities, with one foot firmly planted in traditional sports and the other stepping ahead to sport's newest superstars. The Burlington Royals, Appalachian League affiliate of the Kansas City Royals, play in a first-class facility alongside one of the state's finest BMX parks. It's the way this North Carolina community embraces sports of all kinds that ensures that every event, from peewee to pro, enjoys the ultimate sports experience in Alamance.
So what is the Alamance advantage? It all comes down to one thing: Alamance is simply a great place to play.
A Hub of Fine Facilities
Fairchild Community Center and Park features a double gymnasium, professional league baseball and BMX competition. The park includes a three-court tennis complex, two adult softball fields, a playground, youth baseball field, walking track, and two open picnic shelters. Fairchild also brings together The Burlington Athletic Stadium, host of the Burlington Royals, and an American Bicycle Association (ABA) sanctioned BMX track. Showing its sports acumen, Burlington is ahead of the curve, providing one of the East's highest quality homes for this action-packed sport. The Fairchild track, one of only three ABA sanctioned tracks in North Carolina, offers four skill levels: beginner, novice, expert and professional. This season, the Fairchild BMX track will host a busy schedule of local competitions and, July 22-24, the ABA BMX Tarheel Nationals.
That's not all Fairchild Community Center and Park has to offer. The 28,000 square foot Fairchild Center offers a 14,000 square foot gymnasium equipped with two full size basketball courts, twelve fiberglass backboards with breakaway rims, two indoor badminton courts and an indoor volleyball court, a shuffleboard court, game room and a large multi-purpose room.
Burlington Springwood Park is the newest addition to Burlington's extensive park system, a 78-acre gem featuring four lighted regulation baseball/softball fields and seven (six lighted) regulation soccer fields. The park offers amenities including two concession/restroom buildings, two picnic shelters, two playgrounds and a walking track.
Home to a huge softball community, Burlington has long been host of national softball events, and Springwood is home base for those events. This September, Springwood Park and City Park will once again welcome the ASA Slow Pitch Men's Senior East National Championships, one of the area's largest and longest-running national tournaments.
Burlington City Park, the flagship of the Burlington Parks System, is a 75-acre facility, featuring five lighted softball fields, a tennis center with 12 lighted courts, year-round aquatics center, walking/running track and the North Carolina ASA Softball Hall of Fame. Burlington City Park also has a state-of-the-art youth center and amusement area featuring an extensive playground and courtyard, rides for kids, a train and the Historical Dentzel Carousel.
Part of the National Historical Register, the fully restored Dentzel Carousel attracts thousands of visitors each year, particularly during the Burlington Carousel Festival, held each September in the park and featuring live music, crafts, food and crowds of more then 50,000.
City Park is alive with festivities all year long, with a spring Easter egg hunt, a summer concert series and a range of athletic events, from baseball and softball tournaments to the annual USA South Spring Sports Festival. The largest gathering of the year for the USA South Conference, formerly the Dixie Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, the Spring Sports Festival presents the conference championships in baseball, softball, tennis, women's lacrosse and men's golf.
"This will be our sixth year hosting the Spring Sports Festival, and we're so excited to have them back," says Robert Cox, vice president, Burlington/Alamance Convention and Visitors Bureau. "We're also really lucky to have such a great venue for this event. As our biggest city, Burlington hosts about 75 percent of our events, so we're incredibly fortunate to have such a great Parks & Recreation department there as our partners."
It's a partnership that the city takes seriously—just as seriously as it takes sports. "Burlington's recreation staff is highly qualified and experienced in conducting state, regional and national events," says Tony Laws, director, Burlington Parks and Recreation. "We have a long tradition of hosting exceptional recreational, high school and college events."
Some of Alamance County's other facilities include:
• Joe C. Davidson Park: Two lighted baseball fields; four lighted soccer fields (three regulation, one youth); two lighted tennis courts; one grass volleyball court and a walking trail
• Mebane Art and Community Center: Two indoor basketball courts; four lighted baseball/softball fields; four lighted soccer fields
• 12 18-hole golf courses located across the county with a variety of terrain and beautiful scenery
• Six lakes and marinas offering a range of water sports, including fishing, kayaking, canoeing, boating and skiing.
Alamance County is also home to outstanding private facilities, including the Olde Forest Racquet Club and the athletic fields and venues at Elon University. A private university with a strong athletic and academic tradition, Elon University is home to a variety of first-rate athletic facilities, including Rhodes Football Stadium (seating 11,250) and Alumni Memorial Gymnasium (seating 1,600).
The Place to Play
From any direction, Interstates 85 and 40 make driving into Alamance fast and easy. The county is also 35 minutes from the Piedmont Triad International Airport (in Greensboro) and 45 minutes away from Raleigh/Durham International Airport.
While convenience is an important factor for families traveling to sports events, there's another consideration that ranks equally high: the fun factor. No matter how much you love the game, you can't be competing 24/7. That's why destinations with entertainment value for the in-between time quickly become highly popular places - destinations like Alamance County.
Central location has made Alamance more than a sought-after sports destination. It earned the county a central place in American history, too. The site of numerous battles, as well as several industrial and agricultural advancements, Alamance County is today filled with historical sites. Alamance also offers great outdoor recreation in North Carolina's heartland, from fishing and hiking to hot air ballooning and personal watercraft. Visitors can also enjoy the region's wineries, theatre and museums, the Ace Speedway and the Haw River Trail, a paddling and hiking trail and part of the Mountains To Sea Trail that travels the width of North Carolina.
You can't afford the extras if the basics blow the budget, another reason Alamance is a stand-out sports destination. With 270 restaurants and 26 accommodation properties with a total of 1,752 rooms in a range of budget-and-family-friendly options, Alamance allows families to take advantage of the total experience.
Your Sports Partner
In Alamance County, putting your sports event at the center of attention is easy because the event planning experts at the Burlington/Alamance County Convention and Visitors Bureau are always on hand. Find out more about how to bring your event to Alamance: www.visitalamance.com.