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Daytona Beach, Florida: Compete the Daytona Beach Way

26 Aug, 2014

By: Juli Anne Patty

Daytona Beach, with its 23 miles of beaches and the Daytona International Speedway, has long been the preferred destination for those with a need for speed and fun. Combining the ideal family-friendly vacation destination with world-recognized sports facilities, Daytona Beach has always drawn a loyal following of both vacationers and competitors. But now Florida’s capital of sports and speed is launching a new era of excellence, updating many of its facilities to draw even more and even larger events. In addition to pristine, exceptional facilities, the destination is delivering a CVB-coordinated team of incredible community support. 

Bigger and Better

This December, Daytona Beach will welcome the 2014 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) National Football Championships at the Larry Kelly Municipal Stadium. Also known as Daytona Beach Municipal Stadium, Larry Kelly Field received a series of upgrades thanks to a community effort in support of bringing bigger events to the area. The 10,000-seat stadium, built in 1988, got a field-lift, going from grass to a new synthetic Field Turf surface, as part of a $900,000 renovation project that also included structural grandstand reinforcement, a new roof on the press box, refurbished locker rooms, wireless connectivity in the press box and upgraded communications technology enabling coaches in the box to communicate with field personnel.

The renovations were funded through a team effort by the Volusia County ECHO grant program, the Daytona Beach Racing and Recreation Commission and the City of Daytona Beach. The home field of NCAA Division I Bethune-Cookman University, as well as several local high schools, Larry Kelly Field is now well positioned to serve variety of national sports events.

Daytona Beach, always proud to be a strong competitor, also offers two newly upgraded multi-purpose sports complexes, New Smyrna Beach Sports Complex and Ormond Beach Sports Complex, popular with a variety of youth and adult tournaments.

Showcasing another example of the area’s strong community teamwork, the 68-acre New Smyrna Beach Sports Complex was built in four phases in 1998 around the Municipal Football Stadium, costing $7.4 million plus donated services and materials from local citizens and businesses.

Aiming to serve as New Smyrna’s sports epicenter, the complex offers the highest caliber athletics facilities and strong business partnerships to ensure that every league and every event at the complex is an outstanding success. It is open to a variety of events, including youth football regionals and U.S. Lacrosse events, as well as week-long youth and adult baseball and softball tournaments and drum line competitions.

Ormond Beach Sports Complex is another area facility at the top of its game. The complex has recently added two new multi-purpose fields as well as a new field house at its championship football/soccer field. A new paved road around the entire complex is underway and will be finished by early fall.

This fall, the Ormond Beach Sports Complex will welcome a variety of youth and adult leagues and tournaments, including softball, soccer, football and volleyball. The Ormond Beach Senior Games, USSSA and Lady Renegades Competitive Softball will all take advantage of the complex’s upgrades this fall as well.

LPGA International is a premier golf club in Daytona Beach, home to the Rees Jones Course and the Arthur Hills Course, both par 72, and both world-class, four-star facilities (as rated by Golf Digest). In addition, the course were designed by renowned architects Rees Jones and Arthur Hills. LPGA International is the host course for LPGA events as well as multiple men’s and ladies’ National Collegiate Golf Championships.

A centerpiece to Daytona Beach’s competitive sports world since the ‘50s, Daytona International Speedway is another world-class facility getting a major upgrade. The $400 million renovation, expected to be completed in time for the 2016 Rolex 24 At Daytona and DAYTONA 500, has been named “Daytona Rising” and aims to take the Daytona speed experience to a whole new level. The project includes

·    Five expanded and redesigned entrances that will transport guests to three different concourse levels, each featuring social areas, or ‘neighborhoods,’ along the nearly mile-long frontstretch.

·    More than 101,000 new (also wider and more comfortable) seats, twice the restroom facilities and three times more concession stands.

·    60 luxury suites with track-side views and a completely new experience for corporate guests.

The changes don’t stop at the speedway, however. The parent company of the International Speedway Corporation is also building, directly across famous International Speedway Boulevard, One Daytona, a $1.2 billion, 1.1 million square-foot, mixed-used entertainment, dining and retail center.

Daytona Beach Fans

When considering the destination for your next event, you need to know it has the experience to score a big win. Daytona Beach has hosted events of all sizes and levels, including the annual NAIA Men’s and Women’s National Golf Championships, NCA and NDA Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championships and NCAA Golf Championships. But when it comes down to it, the best advice comes from the organizers who choose Daytona Beach for their own events.

“When the date had to shift for us due to a revised deadline to name our Youth Olympic Team, Daytona Beach’s reaction was first class,” says Phil Andrews, director of events and programs for USA Weightlifting. “Within a week of working with them, we had moved the venue, funded transportation costs and finalized a plan to execute a great event. For the months that followed, Tara, Lyndsey and team were responsive and proactive to make sure our athletes, coaches and spectators had a great experience—from signage to transportation to AV, they helped us find a way to get it done despite the challenges the date change created, and they helped ensure that the U.S. was set up well to send our best athletes to the Youth Olympic Games. Winning a rights holder’s business is not the game, keeping them coming back is. Ryan Sennett and Deirdre Lenzsch will never forget Daytona Beach; it's where they became youth Olympians.”

“The NAIA Men’s Golf Championship [held in May 2014] was our conference’s first effort to host a collegiate national championship,” notes Mark A. Pope, commissioner of The Sun Conference. “Needless to say, we were in need of some real help – and we received it: 

  • The Daytona Beach Area CVB provided great advice and suggestions on the preliminary matters, such as appropriate hotels, preliminary information and gifts for the participants.

  • The Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort ended up being a great destination for our teams.

  • Daytona International Speedway was the perfect venue for guests at our Opening Banquet.

  • LPGA International came through all the way with outstanding golf facilities!  They had great expertise and helpful advice, and they handled all problems very well

Our partner in this event, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, has a staff completely dedicated to making this event a success. I am most thankful to this team of professionals for guiding us through this event, and am really looking forward to our second year of competition.  With this group in place, we will have a great event!”

Unique opportunities

While Daytona Beach offers top facilities for all of the sports you might expect such as softball, soccer, golf and football, many unique and growing events are choosing this destination as well. Stand-up paddleboard (SUP) is a young but flourishing water sport making its home on these shores.

Speed is a huge part of Daytona Beach’s heritage, but so is enjoying the beautiful oceanfront, two qualities that led Barbara Ganz and her team to Daytona Beach.

“Daytona Beach is just perfect for our event, Paddle Stars Race for the Cash,” says Ganz. “The area is known as the birthplace of speed. We have these car races and motorcycle races, so why not a race on the water?”

Paddle Stars Race for the Cash brought world-famous SUP athletes for an elite race with a $10,000 purse, and also offered a recreational race with a range of cash and prizes. This was the first year for their event, but Ganz and her team achieved such success that they already have sponsors lined up for next year. They definitely plan on returning to Daytona Beach.

Find out more about exceptional sports opportunities in the Daytona Beach Area. Visit www.daytonabeach.com or contact Tara Hamburger, sports sales manager, at thamburger@daytonabeach.com or 386-441-8845.

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