Change of Scenery | Sports Destination Management

Change of Scenery

These Emerging Destinations Are Ready to Host
Feb 04, 2018 | By: Mary Helen Sprecher

Moving to a new location can rejuvenate a sports event. After all, it brings in new athletes, new spectators and a change of venue. You get different weather, different surroundings and of course, great new professionals to work with at the CVB or sports commission. SDM has gathered up some destinations on the rise. If you’re looking for a new home for your event, make sure these are on your must-see list. They may provide exactly what you’re looking for.

California: Camarillo
Nestled between the mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Camarillo is located just an hour northwest of Los Angeles and 40 minutes southeast from Santa Barbara. With over 300 days of sunshine a year, life in Camarillo is lived al fresco; visitors can enjoy concerts and fine dining in the ocean breeze or golfing and horseback riding in the mountain air.

Over the years, Camarillo has made a name for itself in the youth sport tournament industry as it’s home to numerous sports facilities and tournaments. Bob Kildee Community Park sits on 12.95 acres of land and includes eight youth baseball fields, six tennis courts, and indoor aquatic center and a 12,000-square-foot skate park. There’s also Freedom Park, which sits on more than 33 acres and has five baseball fields, an inline hockey rink, a gym and Freedom Park BMX Raceway.

When the competition is over and the team is looking to celebrate off the field, Camarillo has plenty to offer during any season. Whether it’s exploring the Channel Islands National Park or shopping at the world-class outlet mall, Camarillo is a gem on the California Central Coast. For more information, go to

California: Irvine
Located in the center of Orange County, California, Irvine offers the most open space in the county: 16,000 acres featuring sports fields, miles of hiking and biking trails and parklands for recreational activities.

Some of the most beautiful sports facilities and venues in Southern California can be found in Irvine. These include Orange County Great Park Sports Complex featuring a 2,500-seat championship stadium, soccer fields, tennis courts, sand volleyball courts, basketball courts and soon, a 270,000-square-foot ice facility with three National Hockey League standard ice rinks, the University of California, Irvine’s aquatic complex and stadium, the William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center and numerous community sports fields and college facilities for virtually any sporting event.

Centrally located to Orange County’s beaches and famous attractions; Irvine is easily accessible by car via multiple interstates and John Wayne Airport (SNA). Recognized as “America’s Safest Big City” by the FBI since 2005, Irvine boasts 21 hotels ranging from full-service to extended-stay with more than 4,700 sleeping rooms and the lowest hotel tax in the county at 10 percent versus 17 percent in surrounding cities.

Destination experts are available to help secure the right event location and hotel accommodations. For more information, visit

California: Redding
Located in the heart of Northern California, the picturesque city of Redding is an outdoor sports recreation haven. Labeled as the sunniest city in California with 300 days of sunshine per year, Redding offers versatile sports venues for any event in any season.
In the past year, Redding has been voted the No. 6 Outdoor Adventure Sports Spot by SportsEvents Magazine for its world-class fishing and trout-filled waters, extensive trail system for hiking and biking and the 11 nearby national and state parks offer endless room to roam without the crowds. Whiskeytown Lake and Shasta Lake are pristine and inviting for swimming, sailing or any kind of paddling, which is why TIME Magazine labeled Redding as the “unofficial capital of kayaking.”

Stepping aside from the natural attractions, the Redding Soccer Park and the Big League Dreams Sports Complex offer 11 combined lighted and all-weather synthetic turf fields for year-round activity. Adding to that, a 20,000 square foot indoor field house at Big League Dreams hosts indoor soccer, hockey or basketball leagues and tournaments, which is one of the main reasons why Redding was voted California’s top destination for youth and amateur sports by SportsEvents Magazine.

More information is available at

Florida: Palm Beach County
The Palm Beaches represents the pinnacle of paradise, where event owners can find a venue for every sport, an abundance of hotels and countless recreational activities and attractions for every budget. It’s easy to play in paradise.

Palm Beach County offers 47 miles of white sandy beaches, over 170 golf courses and driving ranges, two Major League Baseball spring training complexes with 26 MLB regulation diamonds, more than 175 multi-purpose fields, a 30,000-seat football stadium 1,200 tennis courts, including an 8,000-seat tennis stadium, more than 45 parks with vast multi-purpose playing fields, as well as 346 acres of polo and equestrian facilities. The average annual temperature is 78 degrees, making The Palm Beaches a prime location for year-round (yes, even winter) tournaments.

With thousands of hotel rooms available and several large shopping districts and local restaurants to enjoy, the Palm Beach County Sports Commission encourages event owners to “Just Bring Your Game” and “Discover The Palm Beaches.” Explore numerous Palm Beach County facilities with the destination’s interactive virtual tours or get more information on how the Palm Beach County Sports Commission can help make the next sporting event a success at

Illinois: Peoria
The Peoria Area is a premier sports destination in the Midwest. Situated between Chicago and St. Louis, the Peoria Area is within easy driving distance from any major Midwest city. State-of-the-art facilities, approximately 4,000 hotel rooms and an endless list of dining, shopping and attraction options make the Peoria Area a home-run for sports planners.

Key facilities in the Peoria Area include:
• (Peoria) The Peoria Civic Center, featuring 900,00 total square feet of versatile space, including 110,000 square feet of exhibit hall space and an 11,330-seat arena. A skywalk connects the facility to two of downtown Peoria’s largest hotels.
• (Peoria) The Peoria Area’s newest facility, the Louisville Slugger Sports Complex. The complex has 10 outdoor fields and a 125,000-square-foot dome. Modern amenities will make youth and amateur athletes alike feel like professionals.
• (East Peoria) Eastside Centre, complete with 10 diamonds and a recently renovated track and turf field with bowl seating for 4,000.
• (Pekin) The Avanti’s Dome, comprised of a 76,000-square-foot climate-controlled dome.

From initial planning to game day, the Enjoy Peoria sales and services team works with organizers to plan a knockout event. For more information, visit

Maryland: Wicomico County
Located perfectly between the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay, Wicomico County is an ideal place for families to enjoy while there for tournaments and other sporting events.

Wicomico County is not just a beautiful Mid-Atlantic location – it’s a convenient one. Wicomico County is less than a three-and-a-half-hour drive for 25 percent of the U.S. population and within two-and-a-half hours of Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia.
Wicomico County offers expanded, renovated facilities for all kinds of sporting events:
• The award-winning 41-acre Henry S. Parker Athletic Complex is nearing the end of a $3 million expansion project. By spring 2018, there will be eight playable baseball/softball fields at this location, four of which will have synthetic turf infields.
• The Wicomico Youth & Civic Center recently completed a $3 million renovation. This venue offers a 30,000-square-foot arena with 5,600 seats and a 10,000-square-foot secondary space with fixed stage. The venue hosts basketball and wrestling tournaments, as well as volleyball and cheerleading events.
• Wicomico County is home to several other sports facilities, including the Fruitland Falcons Sports Complex with four rectangle fields; the Crown Sports Center, a 103,000-square-foot complex for indoor and outdoor sports; and the new Mid Atlantic Youth Sportsplex, a 52-acre facility with seven full-size rectangle fields.

Wicomico County has strong relationships with Maryland Sports and neighboring jurisdictions Ocean City and Worcester County through the Mid-Atlantic Amateur Sports Alliance.

Missouri: Missouri State Fairgrounds
The Missouri State Fairgrounds offers a winning combination of location, flexible facilities and experienced staff. Day in and day out, The staff coordinates activities throughout the 400-acre fairgrounds.

The venue hosts a variety of events with local, regional, national and international appeal: auctions, livestock shows of all breeds, sporting events, obstacle races, camping and motorcycle rallies, trade shows, conventions, receptions and even motor sporting events on a half-mile dirt track.

With this venue’s long record of hosting and producing successful events, planners can be confident when hosting their events at the Missouri State Fairgrounds. With 20-plus buildings ranging in size from 4,000 to 20,000 square feet, the Missouri State Fairgrounds has more than enough room to handle any event. Access to the facilities is excellent, with easy parking and vehicle access. A wide range of lodging options is available to visitors, from award-winning and historic hotels to top-notch camping facilities with utilities right on the Fairgrounds. The Missouri State Fairgrounds has hosted rodeos, sporting leagues (arena football and indoor soccer to name a few), races, bike tours, wrestling competitions and dance and cheer competitions. Visit

Missouri: Saint Charles
“Historically Awesome Since 1769,” the City of Saint Charles, conveniently nestled on the banks of the Missouri River near the eastern border of the Show Me State, offers such an array and volume of current sports activity that Lewis and Clark would have postponed the start of their cross-country expedition for a game of soccer, lacrosse, basketball or baseball to jumpstart their journey.

Saint Charles is a proven force in the sports tourism industry, thanks to first-class facilities such as the Family Arena, the Saint Charles Convention Center and CarShield Field which have hosted large-scale events ranging from cheerleading, dance, soccer and gymnastics to the NCAA Frozen Four and the state high school baseball tournament.

In addition to the many accessible and affordable venues, Saint Charles features a wide variety of dining and attraction options that add to the “experience within the experience” of a quality tournament and assist in the recruiting of competitors from all age levels as well as their families and friends to the event.

Visitors can sample the award-winning barbecue at Hendricks in the historic downtown, marvel at the automobile collection at Fastlane Cars or celebrate a hard-earned victory with an outing to Kokomo Joe’s, Demolition Ball or Bowlero.

North Carolina: Cumberland County
Located in the heart of North Carolina, the communities of Cumberland County have a historic charm packed with culture, excitement and top-notch sports facilities. Sports and athletics are dear to the heart of any hometown.

In Cumberland County, it’s almost a more elevated kind of experience. The area’s love of country and the American spirit means residents take a little bit extra joy in a hard-fought competition. The wide variety of venues provides an amazing array of opportunities for athletes, tournament organizers and even dedicated spectators. From soccer to basketball, skeet shooting to fishing, racquetball to wrestling, Cumberland County has the facilities, accommodations, community amenities and support system to ensure any event goes off without a hitch.

Cumberland County is home to NCAA and professional teams, so it is no stranger to the sports scene. Collegiate roots are paving the way for a rapidly growing sports market, and the facilities are making noise in the sports industry. The warm climate and Carolina blue skies offer a setting for outdoor sports year-round, perfect for off-season tournaments in the winter months.

Ohio: Butler County
It all starts with the best venues in the Midwest. Butler County, Ohio, is the perfect place for youth and amateur sports. With national championships experience including US Youth & Junior National Championships, Region II President’s Cup Soccer, USA Archery National Championships and so many more, there’s a reason why so many organizers flock to Butler County.

Featuring the 22-field Voice of America Athletic Complex and brand new fieldhouse, DI sports stadiums at Miami University and affordable venues and flexible and accessible parks, Butler County is a go-to sports destination. From Smith Park in Middletown to Joyce Park in Fairfield and top-notch facilities in Oxford, the fields and venues are ready to host any upcoming event.

Sports organizers find a destination that’s conveniently located between Cincinnati and Dayton, within a one-day drive of 60 percent of the U.S. population. Along with quick access to interstates as well as hotels, restaurants and attractions, participants and spectators love the amenities of Butler County, Ohio. They also find that when they work with the Butler County Visitors Bureau, Butler County doesn’t just host their event; its professionals stand by an event owner’s side from start to finish. Events go to the next level in Butler County, Ohio.

Pennsylvania: Butler County
With an abundance of versatile sporting venues, located just 20 minutes north of Pittsburgh, Butler County, Pennsylvania, has become a premier sports destination. The newest venue will be a dream for those who enjoy playing disc golf. North Boundary Park in Cranberry Township will be home to an 18-hole Championship Disc Golf Course, a six-hole ADA Learn-To-Play Disc Golf Course and a two-mile paved nature trail that creates a continuous loop throughout the park.

The new Championship Disc Golf Course will be one of the world’s longest disc golf courses and will be among the most challenging with its distance and design. The course is predicted to be among the top five disc courses in the world and will be ready for play in fall of 2018. In conjunction with other disc golf courses nearby at Moraine State Park and Slippery Rock University, Butler County anticipates the new Championship Disc Golf Course will attract even more tournaments and visitors to the area.

Butler County offers a variety of services at no additional cost including site selection, transportation coordination and so much more. Event owners will find this destination a one-stop shop for all their selection and planning needs. Visit

Pennsylvania: Chester County
Chester County’s Brandywine Valley is the perfect location for sporting events. Nestled in southeastern Pennsylvania, minutes from northern Delaware and the Philadelphia International Airport, the region is easily accessible by the Mid-Atlantic region thanks to major rail lines and interstate highways. 

A variety of state-of-the-art facilities and well-maintained fields, such as United Sports Complex, an indoor/outdoor multiple-use sports facility, Ice Line Quad Rinks ice arena or the Brandywine Polo Fields, along with accommodations of over 5,000 comfortable hotel rooms await sports event participants and visitors.

Group-friendly dining options and family-friendly entertainment attractions, including the expansive grounds at Longwood Gardens and the historically charming Downtown West Chester, welcome all. Event owners planning their next tournament or sporting event can make the call to Chester County Conference and Visitors Bureau to learn about the complete meeting and event planning services, as well as an online hotel reservation system. For more information, visit

South Carolina: Anderson
Located near the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Anderson, South Carolina, is able to meet a variety of athletic and outdoor needs. Event owners can fish Lake Hartwell, a 56,000-acre championship fishery with 962 miles of shoreline which features Green Pond Landing and Event Center, a 30-acre launch facility for fishing tournaments from local trails to the Bassmaster Classic. Those seeking more water sports can enjoy a canoe or kayak trip down the Saluda River, which features South Carolina’s first ADA-compliant canoe/kayak launch facility.

There are plenty of other options, too, including the opportunity to take in a rodeo horse show or just enjoy the events at the T. Ed Garrison Livestock Arena. Those looking for a home for team sports can consider the Anderson Sports and Entertainment Center, a 337-acre facility that features the Civic Center of Anderson, which plays host to concerts, festivals, trade shows, community meetings and more.

The 80-acre Anderson Sports Center has seven baseball/softball fields, three batting cages, eight tennis courts, an 18-hole disc golf course and hundreds of acres of public park and miles of walking trails. Anderson County is the only county in South Carolina with two members of the Baseball Hall of Fame and is home to the South Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame.

Tennessee: Rutherford County
This vibrant Southern community is conveniently located just southeast of Nashville, offering first-rate facilities and award-winning services.

Rutherford County is a proud winner of one of Sports Destination Management’s 2017 Champions of Economic Impact in Sports Tourism awards. Murfreesboro has been named one of the Best Sports Cities in the US by Sporting News; and one of Livability’s Top 10 Soccer Cities, along with a host of other accolades.

Sporting venue highlights:
• Richard Siegel Soccer Complex: a $13 million facility nestled on 137 acres, includes 15 fields and a championship soccer stadium. This is one of the premier soccer facilities in the Southeast. In total, there are 39 soccer fields across the county
• Old Fort Park Tennis with 24 tennis courts, including 16 lighted courts and the brand-new Adams Tennis Complex with eight indoor courts
• Tennessee Miller Coliseum, a 220,000-square-foot indoor facility that hosts regional and national equestrian events and trade shows
• Middle Tennessee State University’s track, baseball and football stadiums and the newly renovated Murphy Center which hosts basketball and volleyball games
• 26 baseball/softball fields, 112 bowling lanes and six golf courses.
Rutherford County offers guests 4,500-plus rooms ranging from moderate to luxury, over 375 restaurants and countless attractions, shopping options and entertainment.

Tennessee: Sevierville
Volleyball, gymnastics and…golf? Sevierville, Tennessee, located in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, is becoming known for its volleyball tournaments and gymnastics competitions held at the Sevierville Convention Center. But the new sport that’s really beginning to take off in this mountain town is golf.

Located just outside the Sevierville Convention Center doors, the Sevierville Golf Club’s two 18-hole championship courses offer challenging play that collegiate and youth tournaments are already taking advantage of. Last year, the Sevierville Golf Club hosted 123 tournaments, including the TTU Bobby Nichols Intercollegiate, Pro Junior and Sneds tour, Tennessee’s premier junior golf tour. The facility’s full-service practice area offers a place for pre-tournament warm up and adds to the opportunities for competition at this expansive public course which is owned and operated by the City of Sevierville.

The Sevierville Golf Club offers full-service catering and has a picturesque outdoor pavilion as well as meeting spaces inside the clubhouse that are available for pre- and post-tournament activities. Tournament organizers will find over 2,000 hotel rooms within a five-minute drive of the courses, plus over 1,000 luxurious cabins, condos and campsites to choose from. More information is available at

Texas: El Paso
With 300 days of sunny weather, El Paso’s always tournament ready. Need more reasons to come by? Here are three.
• The Royal Treatment: First and foremost, El Paso gives its visitors the red-carpet treatment. Mariachi greeting at the airport? Done. A tour of artisan bootmaker shops? You got it. Help booking hotel rooms? Say no more. And thanks to a $500 million investment, Downtown El Paso is in the middle of a revival, bringing brand-new hotels and double the hotel rooms by 2020.
• An Epic Pool: Coming Spring 2018, El Paso is introducing its first competition-ready natatorium facility. The 50-meter-by-25-yard pool will have eight long lanes and 24 short lanes with three different depths for competitive timed swimming, water polo and programmed swimming events. Event owners will want to be one of the first to compete against the backdrop of the roar of 780 spectators.
• Mega Venues: El Paso has countless fields, courts, tracks and diamonds, and they’re adding more. A state-of-the-art park is on the way with an indoor 50-meter pool, six flat fields for football and soccer, four baseball/softball diamonds, 12 handball courts, and four volleyball courts, all competition-ready. The park will be completed by 2020.
Check out for more information.

Virginia: Stafford
Stafford, Virginia’s outstanding new sports venues, accommodations, local attractions and relative affordability, combined with its proximity to the nation’s most popular historic attractions, make it a sure bet for many sports events.

Stafford has proven to be an excellent Mid-Atlantic alternative to metro Washington D.C. in terms of its relative affordability, facilities and accessibility. Since installing a state-of-the-art multi-sport rectangular field complex in 2016, Stafford has already hosted multiple large tournaments including a Region 1 Soccer Championship, Premier Cup Under Armour event, plus numerous indoor swimming competitions at the adjacent Jeff Rouse Swim and Sport Center.

The multi-sport field complex includes six synthetic turf lit rectangular fields and two lighted Bermuda grass fields. Two more fields are coming online in 2018. It was designed with families in mind, also featuring a playground, concession stand, large parking area and restrooms.

Over 4,500 hotel rooms serve the region with family-friendly rates. Stafford is also home to all the nationally known restaurants that families love.

Stafford is located along I-95, just 40 miles south of Washington, D.C., in the heart of one of the nation’s most historic regions. More than 60 percent of the nation’s population lives within a day’s drive.

Washington: Snohomish County
Event owners looking to host an event in the Seattle or Pacific Northwest area will want to make note of this: Snohomish County is just 15 miles north of Seattle and in the heart of the Pacific Northwest. It is bordered on the west by Puget Sound and the Cascade Mountains to the east, making it the perfect backdrop for sporting events.

Snohomish County offers commercial air service out of Paine Field and is located only 45 minutes north of Sea-Tac International Airport. With over 6,697 hotel rooms, there will be no short supply for event participants and spectators.

Snohomish County has 20 baseball/softball fields, 25 soccer fields, four sheets of ice, 20-plus gymnasiums, 18 golf courses and the best cycling/running/triathlon terrain.

Major Venues:
• Angel of the Winds Arena at Everett
• Phil Johnson Ballfields
• Walt Price Fitness Center at Everett Community College
• Harbour Pointe Badminton Club
• Lake Tye Park
• Meadow Wood Equestrian Center
• Evergreen State Fairgrounds
• Lynnwood Convention Center
• Skykomish River Park
• Darrington Archery Range
• Lord Hill Regional Park
• Meadowdale Playfields
• Lake Stevens Community Park
• Snohomish Aquatic Center.
The Snohomish County Sports Commission can assist event owners and help make an event a success. Visit for all the details. SDM

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