Greensboro, North Carolina: A Tour of Tournament Town
31 Dec, 2012By: Juli Anne Patty
Greensboro, North Carolina got its first burst of growth in 1828 after the wealthiest man in town, Henry Humphreys, began operating a steam-powered cotton mill north of the courthouse square. The mill was the first of its kind in North Carolina, and by 1833, 75 looms were in production, cotton material was being exported and Greensboro had solidified its reputation as a chief Southeast textile town.
Today, the city is less renowned for its cotton and more for its fields—sports fields, that is.
“Greensboro is definitely an event-driven city, and sports are a huge part of that,” says Amy Scott, director of marketing, Greensboro Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Because of that, we know how to execute an outstanding event. We have experience. Beyond just putting on an amazing event, my team also offers public relations writing and support, so that teams and planners can get the word out.”
Thanks to Greensboro’s sports event expertise, the city now has a new nickname, “Tournament Town,” and has welcomed men’s and women’s ACC basketball tournaments, the PGA Wyndham Championship and the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, just to name a few. The Greensboro Coliseum Complex employs more people than the legendary Cone Mills, once known for being the world’s largest producer of denim. While advanced manufacturing operations still play an important role in Greensboro, more often it is the basketball courts, baseball fields, pools and stadiums that are the center of attention and the center of the economy today.
Greensboro at a Glance
Given all the high-profile sports events that have traveled to Greensboro, it’s clear that this is a city with sports cred. And just like the city’s roster of events, the list of Greensboro’s benefits is long and distinguished.
• Conveniently located in the middle of the Eastern Seaboard
• Five hours from Washington, D.C./Five hours from Atlanta
• Less than four hours from the mountains/Less than 4 hours from the coast
• Home of one of the Southeast’s largest convention centers
• Home of the Greensboro Coliseum Complex 22,000-seat arena
• Offers access from three major Interstates
• Home to Piedmont Triad International Airport
• Offers over 16,000 area hotel rooms and more than 500 restaurants
• A city of great nightlife, golf courses, museums and outdoor recreation, including 90 miles of walking trails
The Venues Speak for Themselves
Greensboro is a city that takes service very seriously and hospitality is always part of the program. But the facilities are what make Greensboro famous, and just a snapshot of each will show you why.
Bryan Park Soccer Complex
Bryan Park, the Greensboro United Soccer Association home venue for competitive matches, features 17 immaculate Bermuda grass fields. Home field of the Carolina Dynamo, Macpherson Soccer Stadium is the crown jewel of the complex. The stadium has a European-style roof, accommodates 3,000 and is complete with adjacent locker room and concession facilities.
Irwin Belk Track at NC A&T State University
This IAAF certified track features a Mondo Super X Olympic style surface, surrounded by a 23,000-seat complex. The facility features eight 48” running lanes; dual direction runways for long jump, triple jump, and pole vault; multi-directional high jump; and brushed concrete shot and discus circles.
Greensboro Coliseum Complex
One of the most activity booked facilities in the country, hosting more than 850 events, including numerous national sports competitions, the Greensboro Coliseum Complex consists of 22,000-seat Greensboro Coliseum (the largest single-seat arena in the nation), 2,400-seat War Memorial Auditorium and the 300-seat Odeon Theatre. The 167,000-square foot Special Events Center includes three exhibition halls, a 4,500-seat mini-arena, eight meeting rooms, and the 30,000-square-foot Pavilion, located adjacent to the Special Events Center.
Greensboro Aquatic Center
The 78,323-square-foot Greensboro Aquatic Center (GAC) is a state-of-the-art facility featuring leading edge concepts in aquatic design. The GAC brings together all major aquatic sports: competitive swimming and diving, water polo, synchronized swimming and other unique sports all in one venue. Featuring three bodies of water—a competition pool, warm-up pool and diving well—the GAC hosts high school and collegiate events, USA Swimming meets, Master’s swimming and U.S. Water Polo events as well as myriad local, regional, national and international competitions.
Greensboro the Gateway
Another aspect of Greensboro that event planners value is its wealth of activities for off-the-field time. The ease of travel, central location and affordable hotels all appeal to sports families, but none of that means much if there’s nothing to do once game time is over. Fortunately, with a huge variety of attractions and activities, Greensboro never disappoints.
Step Back in Time
Greensboro has something for every history buff, from a Revolutionary War battlefield to the sites of events that helped launch the civil rights movement. Explore Greensboro’s African-American history at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, housed at the historic Woolworth Building in downtown Greensboro, site of the original sit-in.
The Walkway of History chronicles six chapters of local African-American history, from the ?rst fugitive slave on the Underground Railroad to the ?rst African-American state Supreme Court Justice.
Stroll in the Garden
Technically, Greensboro was named after patriot commander Nathaniel Greene, but it’s still appropriate that the word ‘green’ is part of the city’s name. Beautiful parks, lakes and gardens are all around. The Gateway Gardens opened April 2011, featuring the Rain Garden & Pond, the Michel Family Children’s Garden, the Greensboro Heritage Garden and public artwork. Ongoing installments will open over the coming years, including the Japanese Garden and the Wedding & Special Event Garden.
The Bog Garden at Benjamin Park & Starmount Farms Lake offers a bayou-like stroll down a half-mile elevated wooden walkway. Plant lovers can feast their eyes on more than 8,000 trees, shrubs, plants, wild?owers and more.
Begin a Cultural Journey
Visitors with a penchant for the performing arts will want to experience a Broadway-style show and a buffet at the Barn Dinner Theatre, the oldest continually operating dinner theatre in America. The fully restored 1927 Carolina Theatre, a Greek and French Renaissance vaudeville gem, offers a variety of performances, including theater, dance, concerts, classic ?lms and more.
The Land of the Free
Perhaps one of the most appealing aspects of spending your playtime in Greensboro, particularly for traveling sports families, is the many attractions and activities that are totally free.
Center City Park, in the heart of downtown Greensboro, features a half-acre of lawns surrounding a spectacular fountain, a pavilion for intimate gatherings and performances, a Great Lawn for larger events and garden niches in which to get away from it all.
Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum at Historic Palmer Memorial Institute is North Carolina’s only state-supported historic site to recognize a woman and one of the ?rst to honor an African American.
Colonial Heritage Center served as a staging area for British troops under Gen. Cornwallis’ command during the Revolutionary War battle of Guilford Courthouse.
Festivals fill the streets and parks of Greensboro year-round, like the Fun Fourth Festival, the Festival of Lights and the Fireworks Spectacular show at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex’s brand new, outdoor White Oak Amphitheatre on July 4th.
Greensboro Cultural Center at Festival Park brings four art galleries under one roof: African American Atelier, Green Hill Center for North Carolina Art/ArtQuest, Center for Visual Artists Gallery and the Guilford Native American Art Gallery and Gift Shop.
Greensboro Farmers’ Curb Market is a favorite family stop, offering a seemingly endless array of the best home-grown vegetables, fruits and produce, as well as fresh-cut herbs and ?owers, baked goods, and handmade crafts.
Guilford Courthouse National Military Park honors one of the most pivotal Revolutionary War battles with more than 220 acres of historic ground and 28 monuments.
Welcome to Greensboro
Whether you’re breaking the record for the 50m breast stroke or soaking up a little Southern culture, one thing is for sure: Greensboro is a grand slam. For more information about how to take your event to the next level in Tournament Town, visit www.visitgreensboronc.com.