The Southwest and Pacific: Something for Everyone
31 Aug, 2012By: Amy Henderson
The Southwest and Pacific regions have this in common: both offer great weather and first-class venues.
Made up of states including Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington, there is something for everyone. And while it is difficult to summarize everything, it is possible to point out a few of the highlights -- and to encourage readers to explore these areas in depth.
The Pacific offers an ideal climate with coastal and mountain backdrops for a wide array of sports.
Snohomish County, Washington, boasts the Puget Sound, Cascade Mountains and over 5,300 hotel rooms. The TriMonroe Triathlon, sanctioned by USA Triathlon Youth Cup and Junior Elite Cup featured over 170 youth and junior competitors in June, marking one of the largest fields in its history.
Comcast Arena is the area’s crown jewel for events and hosted the Kellogg’s Pacific Rim Gymnastic Championship in March showcasing more than 200 athletes from 16 countries.
“Comcast is a great venue for spectators,” said Tammy Dunn, sports marketing manager for the Snohomish County Sports Commission. Twenty-five baseball and softball fields are available as well as natural venues. The 2011 MasterCraft Pro Wakeboard Tour was held at Lake Tye in Monroe with 60 athletes competing.
Lane County, Oregon, known as Track Town USA hosts great track and field events. For the first time in 20 years, the IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championship will be held in Eugene at Hayward Field at the University of Oregon. “We are estimating 1,000 participants,” said Janis Ross, executive director of Eugene, Cascades and Coast Sports. Hayward Field recently hosted the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.
But track and field aren’t the only games in this town. Oregon Dunes National Recreation Center is the world’s first sandboard park and the United States Basketball Academy draws athletes from all over the world.
Kennewick, Washington, unveiled the Southridge Sports and Events Complex in March. This 52-acre multi-sport development has already hosted 13 tournaments. The complex has four baseball/softball fields, two of which are large enough for full-size soccer fields in their outfields. One field has the capability to host baseball, softball, soccer, football and lacrosse. Two separate fields are dedicated solely to soccer.
“With the fields being so large, we have the capability to change them to fit the sport,” explained Brandon Lange, sponsorship and sports marketing coordinator with the complex.
Stockton, California, banks on its central location. “A lot of folks just like the proximity,” said Wes Rhea, executive director of the Stockton Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The University of Pacific and Stockton Arena are two popular sports venues and the area boasts a multitude of golf courses and numerous baseball and softball fields.
The American Junior Golf All Star Tournament was held at The Reserve at Spanos Park with 100 athletes from all over the country in August. In 2013, the NCAA West Coast Conference Baseball Championships will take place at Banner Island Ballpark.
Fresno, California, enjoys over 300 days of sunshine every year and is ideal for planners wishing to do an outdoor event in January. Weather, great venues and three national parks: Kings Canyon, Sequoias and Yosemite are within one hour, coming together to create a win for planners.
“Fresno has that small town feel,” explained Andrew Smith, sports sales manager with the Fresno Convention & Visitors Bureau. “It’s easy to navigate and get around and having the three parks is a huge driving force for us.”
SaveMart Center, Fresno Regional Sports Complex, Selland Arena, Fresno State University and Fresno Pacific University offer a variety of fields. The Clovis North Educational Center hosted the iCAN TRI youth triathlon in July. The Amgen Tour of California rolled through in May, and the California USA Wrestling State Championships were held at Selland Arena in June.
San Mateo, California, capitalizes on their infrastructure to accommodate sports event planners. “We are unique that we are county-run versus city so there are a lot of options,” said Teipo Brown, director of group sales with the San Mateo-Silicon Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau. The area is located just south of San Francisco, and is an easy drive from the airport.
The San Mateo Event Center hosts 13 tournaments from January until May for the Northern California Volleyball Association.
Things are hopping in the southwest. Race Across America is a nine-event biking series that made stops in three southwest states: Nevada, Colorado and Texas during its run with 256 teams racers from 19 countries.
Denver, Colorado, hosted the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Championships at 1st Bank Center as well as the National Western Stock Show & Rodeo and the 2012 NCAA Women’s Final Four. They will host the 2014 FIL Men’s Lacrosse World Championships at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park with as many as 38 countries being represented.
The Coleman Vision Tennis Championships were held at Tanoan Country Club in Albuquerque, New Mexico, are slated for September 2012.
Bryan-College Station, Texas, is home to Bryan College and Texas A&M, and its central location is a plus. Located within driving distance of 80% of the population of Texas, the area is in the middle of the major metroplexes of Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio.
Veterans Park sits on 150 acres and offers fields for soccer, softball, lacrosse and football. Bryan Regional Athletic Complex provides nine soccer, four softball, two baseball and one basketball court for events. The 15th Annual Bryan College Station Shootout was held in June at eight area venues with 140 teams participating.
Planners can also take advantage of the ‘It pays to check us out’ campaign. This incentive program allows planners to get paid back based on room nights utilized. The CVB will pay back anywhere from $200 to $3,000.
Plano, Texas, prides itself on its park system and its efficiency in putting on events. “We possibly have the best planned and executed park system in the Southwest,” said Cissy Aberg, sport sales manager with the Plano Convention & Visitors Bureau. Plano's Russell Creek has 22 full-size lighted soccer fields and Carpenter Park ads another nine. Heritage Yards leads in softball fields with nine fields and Plano Sports Authority adds 14 basketball and volleyball courts.
Plano Youth Soccer Association hosts a Labor Day Invitational that brings over 700 teams and 35,000 visitors to Plano, in addition to several tournaments throughout the year. PrimeTime Sports National Basketball Championship stops in for five days in July and the Badawi Challenge is a fencing tournament that is quickly growing into an annual event.
Victoria, Texas, hosted the Texas Collegiate League All Star Game in July at Riverside Park featuring the best players from the league for the second time in three years.
The 50th Texas River Marathon had 161 teams participate and determined the pole position for the Texas Water Safari, the world’s toughest paddling race and featured canoes, kayaks and a stand-up paddle boarder who raced 260 miles. The Texas Senior PGA Championship will take place in November at Victoria Country Club and the NAIA All Men’s and Women’s Golf Championship and Women’s Softball Championship tournaments will make their way to Victoria in May 2013.
“Event planners choose Victoria because of our proximity to Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Corpus Christi,” said Melinda Roger, sports marketing manager with the Victoria Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Laredo, Texas, offers great venues, warm weather and low humidity, which allow for events more often in a calendar year than some of its counterparts. The Laredo Energy Arena is home to Indoor Football Laredo Rattlesnakes and the United Soccer League Premier Development League Laredo Heat and offers seating up to 8,665.
Both Texas A&M International University and Laredo Community College offer additional resources to the area
Lewisville, Texas, is home to Integrated Athletic Development, which provides state of the art facility for training, competitions and camps to athletes in basketball, volleyball, football and baseball. IAD offers sport specific training, competitive games in basketball and volleyball and performance training to name a few.
MAC Sports features four NBA-size basketball courts and seven USA Volleyball regulation-size courts. There are 23 parks featuring 10 soccer fields and 13 baseball/softball fields and professional sports arenas within 30 miles.