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The World’s Largest Field Hockey Tournament Returns to The Palm Beaches

23 Nov, 2016


The world’s largest field hockey tournament will return to The Palm Beaches this November.  USA Field Hockey (USAFH) will partner with the Palm Beach County Sports Commission to host the National Hockey Festival at the International Polo Club in Wellington over Thanksgiving weekend, from November 24 to November 27, 2016.  

Over 200 teams, consisting of nearly 4,000 athletes and 8,500 total visitors from the United States, Canada, Europe, and the Caribbean will visit Palm Beach County.  The participating teams will contend for titles in women’s and men’s divisions, including women’s age group (Under 14, Under 16, and Under 19), boy’s age group (Under 16), and women’s open and mixed (adult).   Over 700 field hockey games will take place during the National Hockey Festival, creating an extraordinary volume of competition occurring during a single event.  

The National Hockey Festival is familiar with Palm Beach County. After spending two years away from the East Coast, USA Field Hockey will bring its most prestigious event back to the Palm Beaches.  Palm Beach County has been home to the National Hockey Festival on nine (9) previous occasions (most recently in 2012 and 2013) and is the only Florida destination to host this event.  

“We are delighted to be returning the National Hockey Festival to the International Polo Club in The Palm Beaches,” said Simon Hoskins, USA Field Hockey Executive Director. “Many in the field hockey community have been hoping to see Festival return to Florida and we are thrilled that this opportunity became available. We can all be confident that we will strive to put on the very best Festival for athletes, club and college coaches, umpires, sponsors, volunteers and family members.”

The International Polo Club is a remarkable venue that maintains over 200 acres of land, consisting of nine (9) polo fields. The venue was a key ingredient in the successful bid. USA Field Hockey will layout nearly 30 field hockey pitches on five (5) polo fields. The International Polo Club provides a competitive advantage for the Palm Beach County Sports Commission in regards to recruiting and hosting major national and international sporting events.  

Very few communities have the privilege and capability to host an event such as the National Hockey Festival.   This event generates a tremendous economic and tourism impact.  In 2013, Palm Beach County received nearly $9 million of direct visitor spending and 12,830 hotel room nights from the National Hockey Festival.  The influx of visitors will be welcomed by the hotel and business community during Thanksgiving weekend of 2016. Global JBS, the housing partner for USA Field Hockey, has assembled more than 50 hotels, located from Jupiter to Boca Raton, to offer room housing accommodations for the National Hockey Festival.  

“The Palm Beach County Sports Commission is humbled, honored and excited that USA Field Hockey will bring its National Hockey Festival back to The Palm Beaches,” said George Linley, Palm Beach County Sports Commission Executive Director. “The abundance of new dollars and rise in hotel occupancy will be welcomed by the hospitality and business community.  Hotels, restaurants, retail outlets, and attractions from Jupiter to Boca Raton will experience a surge of business over Thanksgiving weekend. There are very few opportunities to host a single sports event that will create a countywide tourism impact.”

The National Hockey Festival origins date back to 1922. The event features the most talented field hockey athletes in the world including future Olympians.   The prestige and reputation of this event creates a long wait list of teams wishing to participate. Today, over 25,000 athletes, coaches, officials and fans comprise the membership of USA Field Hockey, making it one of the most successful National Governing Bodies in the United States

Thanksgiving is about rituals, stuffed turkeys, and football.  However, the tradition is changing to include field hockey in The Palm Beaches.   Don’t miss the National Hockey Festival, which provides a variety of festivities and a family-fun environment at the International Polo Club.     The event is free and open to the public.   For More information, contact the Palm Beach County Sports Commission at (561) 233-3180.

Games will take place during the following times:

Thursday, November 24, 7:30am to 4:30pm                
Friday, November 25, 7:30am to 4:30pm
Saturday, November 26, 7:30am to 4:30pm
Sunday, November 27, 8:00am to 12:00pm

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