A Passion for America’s Pastime | Sports Destination Management

A Passion for America’s Pastime

May 01, 2024 | By: Peter Francesconi

Nearly every kid growing up in the U.S.  probably played baseball (or its cousin, softball) at some point in their lives. As adults, we continue to play it, watch it and follow our favorite teams. Americaís pastime started circling the bases in the 1840s, and its popularity has never been in doubt.

The most recent research from the Physical Activity Council puts U.S. participation for baseball in 2023 at 16.65 million players ages 6 and up, which is a nice jump of 7.6 percent from the year before, and continues a four-year rise, surpassing pre-pandemic levels.


With all the choices youth and adults have for recreation, it’s exciting to see participation in one of America’s oldest sports continue to climb, as many venues across the country are experiencing increased baseball play.

Arlington, Texas

Arlington, TX | Photo courtesy of Arlington Sports Commission
Arlington, TX | Photo courtesy of Arlington Sports Commission

From youth games into the major leagues, baseball is big business in Arlington. Globe Life Field, with a capacity of more than 40,000 spectators, is home to the 2023 World Series champion Texas Rangers. But the venue also has hosted many collegiate and other professional baseball games and tournaments.

Clay Gould Park is home for the University of Texas-Arlington baseball team and has also been used for many high school showcases. The 6,000-square-foot facility, which seats 1,600, features a clubhouse, equipment and laundry rooms, sports medicine training room and coaches’ offices. For youth, there’s the 135-acre Harold Patterson Sports Complex, with its two youth softball fields and four full-sized baseball or softball fields. Randol Mill Park, with nearly 150 total acres, includes four baseball fields, four softball fields, concessions and restrooms.

Last year, the USSSA DFW World Series baseball event was played at Arlington Park & Rec fields across the city, bringing in 250 teams and more than 4,700 attendees. Every February since 2022, Globe Life Field hosts the College Baseball Showdown, which this year saw about 30,000 total attendees. Globe Life is also the site for the Big 12 Baseball Championship.

“Arlington is undeniably a baseball town,” says Maya McRaven of the Sports Commission. “We are proud to work seamlessly with our partners to bring high level amateur baseball events to Arlington, and we’re beyond excited to celebrate the Texas Rangers in Arlington, a city that crowns champions.”

Central Massachusetts

Central, MA | Photo courtesy of Discover Central Massachusetts
Central, MA | Photo courtesy of Discover Central Massachusetts

“Baseball is more than just a game in Central Massachusetts; it’s a community experience,” says Sam Ashraf, director of marketing for Discover Central Massachusetts. “Whether it’s the electric atmosphere of a WooSox game at Polar Park or the hometown spirit of a Bravehearts game at Hanover Insurance Park, our region offers a unique blend of big league excitement and community charm.”

Polar Park, with seating for about 10,000, is home to the WooSox Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. The facility offers various seating options, state-of-the-art lighting and modern amenities. Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field, with seating for about 3,000, is home to the Worcester Bravehearts, a part of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League.

Off the field, Central Massachusetts caters to art lovers with the Worcester Art Museum and Hanover Theatre. For outdoor fun, visit Wachusett Mountain, or enjoy Lake Quinsigamond. History buffs should visit nearby Old Sturbridge Village to see what life was like in the early 19th century.

For event owners and managers, Discover Central Massachusetts offers assistance for marketing/advertising along with help finding lodging, and local businesses provide special offers for athletes and attendees.

Irmo-Chapin, South Carolina

Irmo-Chapin, SC | Photo courtesy of Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission
Irmo-Chapin, SC | Photo courtesy of Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission

By early spring, the Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission (ICRC) had at least 40 baseball events booked for 2024, with more on the way. One of the premier facilities in the region is Seven Oaks Park, with six natural grass diamonds, including four youth fields, one intermediate diamond and one regulation size field. Seven Oaks also offers three full gymnasiums, a fitness area, indoor walking track, meeting rooms, outdoor playgrounds, picnic shelters and paved walking trails.

The 71-acre Melvin Park also has six diamonds (four regulation size and two youth fields) and has a splash pad, along with picnic shelters and a guest services pavilion.

Less than a mile away is Crooked Creek Park, a state-of-the-art recreation complex in the heart of Lake Murray country, with three youth/intermediate baseball diamonds. Crooked Creek hosts visitors of all ages and offers a wide array of recreational, cultural, instructional and social activities. The park has a 53,000-square-foot Community Center with full gymnasium, fitness area, indoor walking track, meeting rooms and more. Outside, there are picnic facilities, playgrounds, numerous walking trails and a 27-hole disc golf course.

“Our goal is to create community through people, parks and programs,” says ICRC Executive Director Mark Smyers. “I find myself grateful to be a part of this community. It is full of wonderful people, incredible natural resources and a great Recreation District. Through our services, we help build memories, foster relationships and support wellness for all.”

Lackawanna, Pennsylvania

Lackawanna, PA | Photo courtesy of Lackawanna County Visitors Bureau / Photo by Access Aerial
Lackawanna, PA | Photo courtesy of Lackawanna County Visitors Bureau / Photo by Access Aerial

Lackawanna County has an abundance of beautiful baseball facilities, with over 40 diamonds, including professional, collegiate, high school and community fields. “We can provide quality options for tournaments of all sizes,” says Alexa Peregrim, director of sales for the Lackawanna CVB.

Among the most requested venues are PNC Field, which is the Triple-A stadium of the New York Yankees and can seat 10,000 fans, with bullpens, indoor batting cages and more. The University of Scranton offers a turf baseball field, locker rooms, concessions, batting cages and a press box. Schautz Stadium is a lighted turf diamond with concessions, press box, restrooms, batting cage, livestream capabilities and a digital scoreboard.

The Mid Valley High School Sports Complex has a turf baseball field plus a turf softball diamond, both brand new, while the Valley View High School Sports Complex has a grass baseball field, restrooms and concessions. Abington Little League has one baseball diamond along with four Little League fields, press box, scoreboards, concessions and restrooms. Grass diamonds are available at Connell Park and Penn State Scranton.

About 67 million people live within 250 miles of Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Lackawanna County is just two hours from both New York City and Philadelphia. “Our location puts your event within reach of a massive population, while our affordability offers families attractions, accommodations and dining options at a reasonable price. This makes Lackawanna County the ideal location for your next baseball event,” says Curt Camoni, executive director of the Lackawanna County Visitors Bureau.

Portland, Texas

Portland, TX | Photo courtesy of Play Portland Texas
Portland, TX | Photo courtesy of Play Portland Texas

Portland, Texas is along the Gulf Coast just northeast of Corpus Christi, and has two outstanding sports venues, Municipal Park and the Sports Complex, where athletes play on lighted all-synthetic turf fields. The 21-acre Municipal Park includes five baseball fields, which are also suitable for softball.

The park also has a covered playground with splash pad, a covered basketball court, a lighted walking/jogging track and covered fitness station, concession areas and a shade structure in the center of a four-diamond cluster. The diamonds offer dugouts, covered spectator seating, dual-lane lighted batting cages and scoreboards.

The 38-acre Sports Complex has four lighted artificial turf diamonds, dual-lane lighted batting cages, dugouts, turf bullpens and scoreboards. The Sports Complex also has concession areas and a playground with splash pad and covered picnic pavilions.

Off the field, this quiet coastal community offers the many delights of the Texas Gulf Coast and is a haven for anglers, birdwatchers, windsurfers and other outdoor enthusiasts. Portland is also just a few minutes’ drive from Corpus Christi and all that it has to offer.

Ruston, Louisiana

Ruston, LA | Photo courtesy of Experience Ruston
Ruston, LA | Photo courtesy of Experience Ruston

In North Louisiana’s Ruston and Lincoln Parish, the 185-acre Ruston Sports Complex features 16 artificial turf baseball fields, eight grass softball fields, covered grandstands, playgrounds, full-service concessions, charging stations, RV hookups, plenty of parking and more. The facility hosted the 2023 DYB Division I & II AAA, Majors & Ozone World Series, with 62 teams and 8,500 visitors over two weeks, drawing teams from a dozen states.

Also available for tournaments and events is Louisiana Tech’s J.C. Love Field, a new facility with a seating capacity of 2,000. Rebuilt after sustaining tornado damage in 2019, J.C. Love Field has an all-turf surface, state-of-the-art locker rooms, players’ lounge and more. It has hosted the 2021 NCAA Ruston Regional Baseball Tournament and the 2021 Conference USA Baseball Championship and will host the 2024 Conference USA Championship in May.

“Baseball has truly become a unifier in our community,” says Tori Davis, director of marketing and communications at Experience Ruston. “Between collegiate and youth baseball events, there seems to always be a visiting team in town to play for the win and experience our community. Our residents have taken on the role of host whole-heartedly. We have several tournaments that have chosen Ruston for the last several years and plan to stay at our facilities for the foreseeable future, which we view as a testament to our hospitality and professionalism.”

San Angelo, Texas

San Angelo, TX | Photo courtesy of Discover San Angelo
San Angelo, TX | Photo courtesy of Discover San Angelo

When it comes to hospitality, it might be hard to find a place that outdoes San Angelo. “You’ll get hospitality here that you won’t find anywhere else,” says Jeremy Bartz of Discover San Angelo, in central west Texas. “It’s something we take great pride in.”

That hospitality extends, of course, to hosting sports events. “We want to be sure parents and kids know they’re welcome here,” Bartz continues.

Among the places to play baseball in San Angelo is the Texas Bank Sports Complex, which has four lighted, natural grass quads (11 multi-purpose diamonds, two Little League fields, one tee-ball field and a lighted high school diamond), in addition to a playground, concessions and restrooms as well as bus and RV parking. Both Lakeview High School and Central High School have baseball fields, too, and there are also other Little League fields around town.

There’s also the 4,200-seat Foster Field at Angelo State University, whose team last year won the NCAA Division II National Baseball Championship. Originally built as a Triple-A facility, this artificial turf venue has excellent lighting, bullpens, batting cages and more.

In February, Discover San Angelo received the “People’s Choice for Best Destination for Arts and Culture” in the state by Texas Travel Awards.

“We want you here, we want you to experience the city, we want you to have fun while you’re here and when you go home, we want you to come back,” says Bartz.

Surprise, Arizona

Surprise, AZ | Photo courtesy of City of Surprise
Surprise, AZ | Photo courtesy of City of Surprise

“Baseball has played an integral role throughout Surprise’s history,” says City of Surprise Sports & Tourism Director Kendra Pettis. “MLB’s Spring Training with the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers launched our city’s evolution as a sports destination. The investment in top-tier facilities provided a foundation to develop other sports programs, local community events and spur development that benefits the entire community.”

Surprise Stadium is a state-of-the-art baseball complex featuring a stadium with 10,000+ seats and 12 additional Major League practice fields, two bunting fields and two agility training fields. “The complex was designed specifically for baseball tournaments and has features that allow us to customize the space to fit the needs of professional, college, high school and amateur tournaments, athletes and fans,” says Pettis. Amenities include multiple batting cages, pitching mound galleries and training spaces.

Surprise Stadium hosts Spring Training for both the Royals and Rangers, and each February, the venue kicks off the baseball season by hosting the College Baseball Classic, which draws over 15,000 fans. Ottawa University, a local college, hosts its home games at the complex, too.

In addition, Surprise Stadium hosts a number of amateur baseball tournaments with partners like USA Baseball and Perfect Game attracting hundreds of teams and thousands of visitors. “Last year, we had over 120,000 in total tournament attendance,” Pettis says. SDM