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The Surprising Sports Treasures of Tri-Valley, California

29 Aug, 2013

By: Linda Driscoll-Dobel

Just 33 miles east of San Francisco sits an area with a cache of assets. It offers beautiful scenery, outstanding connectivity and more than enough hotels and restaurants to take care of the largest events. The hills are rolling and the weather is dependable and pleasant, with mild winters and sunny summers.

And these days, Tri-Valley, California, has been uncorking a great reputation for itself in sports circles. It offers a variety of facilities and terrain equipped to handle field sports, aquatics, equestrian, cycling, tennis and golf, as well as plenty of others. Like the wine the region produces, it has come into its own, thanks to outstanding planning and care on the part of those in charge of growing the region, who have made sure there is plenty to do.

“The variety of sports facilities is one of the unique things about Tri-Valley,” says Geoffrey Sarabia-Mason, vice president of sales for Visit Tri-Valley. “We have so much to do.”

The Tri-Valley region of California is comprised of the town of Danville and the cities of Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton, San Ramon, three unincorporated towns of Alamo, Blackhawk and Sunol and its three valleys (Amador, Livermore and San Ramon). It’s located just 33 miles east of San Francisco and 27 miles north of San Jose. In fact, it is the combination of all those areas that gives the region its unique character as well as a mind-boggling number of facilities in close proximity to one another.

“We have four cities, one town and unincorporated areas,” says Sarabia-Mason. “We have the ability to handle indoor and outdoor sports.”

Spectacular Sports Fields

“From a tournament perspective, one of our draws is outdoor soccer,” Sarabia-Mason says.

Here again, the advantages of a large and well-connected area come into play. The Mustang Soccer League plays on fields in 24 locations, including the Mustang Soccer Complex which features the Muscle Milk Fields. The Tri-Valley Soccer Club has fields in six locations (three parks and three schools) in San Ramon. The Pleasanton Rage Girls Soccer Club accesses fields in 20 locations. All fields are natural grass.

Tri-Valley is also home to a large number of well-appointed and meticulously maintained natural grass baseball facilities that welcome a wide range of players, from Little League (in San Ramon, Granada, Danville, Pleasanton and Dublin and Amador) to the Tri-Valley Men’s Senior Baseball League.

This year, Tri-Valley hosted the first-ever Little League Intermediate 50-70 World Series at the Granada Little League Baseball Complex in Livermore and, according to Sarabia-Mason, organizers anticipate this event returning next year, as well as in years to come. The complex includes seven fields, batting cages and a tee-ball facility as well as recreational park areas, concessions and parking.

Prime ball fields, as well as fields to accommodate a variety of other sports, are available throughout the Tri-Valley region. The San Ramon Valley Girls Athletic League uses fields in 17 locations, including schools and parks. The town of Danville manages 35 baseball/softball fields and 31 soccer/lacrosse/football fields for community use.  Sports fields are located at three community parks and 11 schools.  These multi-use sports field facilities are maintained by the Town of Danville and the San Ramon Valley Unified School District.

Pleasanton offers multiple fields in 12 city parks. In Dublin, Fallon Sports Park is the city's newest park and a premier sports facility. It offers baseball and softball diamonds as well as lighted basketball courts, lighted tennis courts, walking trails, a BMX course, soccer fields, restrooms, picnic facilities and drinking fountains. The Amador County Recreation Agency publishes a list of its park facilities, which include 12 baseball and softball fields, as well as restrooms, facilities for tennis, soccer, horseshoes, basketball, picnicking and more.

According to Sarabia-Mason, school sports facilities are most likely to have lighting for evening play.

Swimming and Diving

No area on the Pacific coast would be complete without swimming and diving facilities, and Tri-Valley is no exception.

“We have good facilities from an aquatics perspective,” says Sarabia-Mason, “and the town of Dublin just approved two more outdoor pools.”

Competition-level facilities can be found at the Aquatic Center at Las Positas College, San Ramon Olympic Pool and Aquatic Center and at the Dougherty Valley Aquatic Center in San Ramon. In addition, a number of large municipal and private swimming and diving facilities serve the area.

Bicycle Crossing

With its miles of rolling hills, park trails and perfect weather, Tri-Valley has also made a name for itself on the bicycle circuit. Livermore recently hosted a stop of the Amgen Tour of California in May.

“It was our second year to do that,” notes Sarabia-Mason, “and it was really successful.”

The Tri-Valley area is a natural fit for cycling events, either on the road, on park paths or (for those who want the mountain bike experience) on rugged trails.

The Surprising Sport

Bocce is big in Tri-Valley, notes Sarabia-Mason.

“Something people might not know is that we’re prominent on the world bocce circuit. A team here goes to the international series every year.”

Campo di Bocce, located in Livermore, has world-class facilities for the sport. Campo di Bocce offers multiple league nights, local and regional tournaments and plays host to large-scale National Championships and International competitions. Tri-Valley offers nine other facilities with bocce courts as well.

Golf Galore

A total of 14 golf courses grace the Tri-Valley area. According to Sarabia-Mason, the most beautiful is the Greg Norman-designed 18-hole facility at the Wente Vineyards.

“We have worked with the LPGA pretty much every year,” he notes, “and recently, we were a stop on the PGA Tour, as well.”

A variety of private, semi-private and municipal courses is available, and will suit everyone from the experienced player to the vacation duffer.

The Wine Country on Ice

Another surprising fact? Tri-Valley has an ice sports culture.

"It was just announced that a new facility called Tri-Valley Ice will include figure skating and hockey tournaments as well as hockey leagues," notes Sarabia-Mason.

Tri-Valley Ice will be located in Livermore. It joins Dublin Iceland, which offers hockey and figure skating, as well as public skating sessions, and is the home ice of the Tri-Valley Minor Hockey Association.

…And There’s More

Other facilities exist to host a variety of sports including equestrian activities (the Alameda County Fairgrounds offers racing), rodeo (the Livermore Rodeo is located in Robertson Park) and bowling (a number of lanes, including Pleasanton Bowling, Danville Bowl and Earl Anthony’s Dublin Bowl, greet athletes).

A Well-Connected Region

If there’s a lot to do in Tri-Valley, it’s only equaled by the ease in getting there and getting around. Oakland International Airport is 18 miles away from the Tri-Valley area. San Jose International Airport is 27 miles away and San Francisco International Airport is about 42 miles away.

Once travelers arrive, the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system can help them get around the area. BART has terminals in both the Oakland and San Francisco airports and extends all the way to Dublin and Pleasanton as well as to other destinations.

Plenty of Beds

Tri-Valley has sports facilities, charm and connectivity. What else does it have? Affordable lodging, and plenty of it, according to Sarabia-Mason.

“We have a database of over 4,500 hotel rooms, and those range from a 10-room bed and breakfast in the middle of an olive vineyard, right up to a full-service hotel and everything in between. We have rates nobody else can touch. What you’d pay maybe $300 a night for in San Francisco, you can get from $79 to $149 a night here. Then it’s a $4 ride on the BART to get where you need to go.”

The area features over 300 restaurants from independent and unique eateries to chain establishments. It also offers plenty for families to do during downtime from events, including go-carts, hiking, museums, parks and more. (The Blackhawk Automotive Museum, located in Danville, is a particular standout, according to Liz Sullivan, Tri-Valley’s social media and public relations manager, who terms it “the place every little boy wants to go.”)

No question about it: Tri-Valley has a lot to offer. Visit Tri-Valley is eager to show organizers what they can do.

“We can take anything from putt-putt to a Little League World Series and make it a winner,” says Sarabia-Mason.

To learn more, go to http://visittrivalley.com/ or call 888-874-9253.

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