New and Expanding Markets: Brave New Worlds | Sports Destination Management

New and Expanding Markets: Brave New Worlds

The Best New Sports Destinations

Unchartered islands. Hidden treasures. Brave new worlds. Get past the hyperbole and you discover a simple truth: Everyone wants to find that undiscovered, unspoiled area where resources are plentiful, people are friendly and costs are reasonable. It’s as true in the sports travel industry today as it was hundreds of years ago when people packed up tall ships and aimed for the horizon.

The good news is this: You don’t need to be Marco Polo (or if you’d rather explore pop culture, Captain Kirk) to make those discoveries. In fact, they’re waiting for you, showcased on the next few pages. Take a moment to explore the new and expanding markets in sports travel. Some you might have heard of before, but some may be completely new to you. All of them deserve your attention, though.

Whether your competition plays out on the water, the boards, the field or the court, we have new destinations for you to discover.

Just remember. You saw them here first.

Dalton, Georgia

Dalton is the sports hub in Northwest Georgia for team sports including youth baseball, senior softball, youth basketball and adult tennis.

The recent addition of six synthetic fields in Dalton provides flexibility to host soccer, football and lacrosse tournaments. The turf fields provide a consistent field of play throughout the year regardless of weather conditions. The turf fields also provide flexibility to change field markings for each sport with relative ease.

The Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center (NWGTCC) has a 40,000-square-foot arena providing opportunity for growth in indoor sports to include beach and court volleyball, judo and weightlifting events. These indoor events at the NWGTCC complement the wrestling, basketball, football and soccer tournaments that have used the arena in the past.

The staff at the NWGTCC is experienced in constructing the arena for basketball (NWGTCC is home to Dalton State College men’s basketball team), wrestling, gymnastics, arena football and soccer games. The experienced operations team will make new and emerging sports feel right at home when competing in the NWGTCC.

Huntsville, Alabama

Huntsville is growing to meet the needs of sports planners and tournament directors. The Huntsville Tennis Center has increased the number of courts in the facility from 24 to 30. The Merrimack Soccer Complex has added two more fields to bring their total to 12. Brahan Spring Park now boasts six sand volleyball courts. Two large local stadiums, Milton Frank Stadium and Alabama A&M University’s Louis Crews Stadium, have installed artificial turf playing surfaces. This major improvement allows these two venues the ability to host a variety of competitions and sporting events year round.

The growth continues with several additional facilities currently in the works. A new soccer complex, new baseball and softball fields and a multi-court basketball facility are all proposed additions to the local landscape. According to Don Dukemineer, convention sales manager with the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau, “Huntsville has the facilities to host a wide variety of sporting events and tournaments. This community helped put mankind on the moon and we aim to take your event to new heights as well.”  A new sports guide has just been completed, so you can quickly and easily see how Huntsville can host your next sports event.

Midland, Texas

Midland is known for its iconic high school football, being one of the West Texas cities that inspired Friday Night Lights. But Midland, nicknamed “The Tall City” for its towering and energetic downtown, is quickly becoming a favorite destination for sports of all kinds. Its low humidity and abundance of sunshine combine with state-of-the-art facilities to create a first-class experience. Midland is conveniently located on I-20 halfway between Dallas and El Paso and boasts Midland International Airport.

Athletes travel to Midland from across the world. Each April, Midland hosts PGA’s tour, the only PGA-sponsored golf tournament in Texas. The COM Mabee Aquatic Center features two 25-yard competitive pools and a complete springboard and plat­form diving venue. National events hosted include the U.S. Swimming Junior National Championships, U.S. Diving National Championships and an Olympic team diving exhibition. The Scharbauer Sports Complex features a baseball and football stadium. The ballpark seats 6,000 with VIP suites and lounge. Grande Communications Stadium seats 18,000 with press box and video board. United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) events have been held in Midland.

The Midland CVB provides complimentary services and also oversees the Sports & Entertainment Association of Midland grants available for qualifying events. Get a free proposal: 1-800-624-6435 or

Morgan Hill, California

Tucked away just south of San Jose, California, is the jewel known as the Morgan Hill Outdoor Sports Center. While newly emerging on the national market, this facility has actually been in use since the late 1990s. Its 38 acres featuring nine grass and two synthetic turf full-size fields create an ideal location for any tournament. Almost exclusively used for soccer until 2010 when the Morgan Hill Youth Sports Alliance, Inc. assumed control, it has since added such diverse sports like men’s and women’s lacrosse, adult and youth rugby, football, flag football, field hockey, Ultimate Frisbee and even Segway Polo to its steady flow of youth and adult soccer tournaments. 2014 will see it host the USDAA Cynosport World Championship as well.

The real charm of the facility is its location. Morgan Hill is in the southern end of the San Francisco Bay Area, equidistant between San Francisco and the Monterey Bay coast. Surrounded by mountains, it has small town charm with a downtown of over 30 eateries, weekend farmers’ markets and free summer concerts. The surrounding area is home to award-winning wineries and professional golf courses as well as state and county parks with hiking, boating and camping.

Stockton, California

Stockton, California’s home university has moved to the West Coast Conference (WCC), which means more opportunities for the team at Visit Stockton.

The switch to the WCC put the University of the Pacific into a league that will draw larger attendance and more followers to hosted events to watch teams like BYU and Gonzaga in action. Stockton was the host of the 2013 WCC Baseball Championships at the Downtown Stockton Banner Island Ballpark, a 5,200-seat waterfront venue.

After being featured on ESPN-U, the conference decided to return to Stockton for two more years to play out its 2014 and 2015 baseball championship events at the downtown venue. The team at Visit Stockton is also working with the WCC for additional hosting opportunities that this new conference will bring to the city, with the hope of expanding into other NCAA events.

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Popular with sports enthusiast of all types, Virginia Beach is a superior destination. Showcasing venues and amenities that rival most metropolitan areas, the city boasts multiple flexible facilities capable of accommodating a variety of sporting functions both indoor and outdoor. The world-class Virginia Beach Convention Center, a 500,000 square-foot venue featuring a 150,000 square-foot column-free exhibit hall, coupled with the city’s prime shoreline and a large number of additional sporting venues, make Virginia Beach a top destination for regional, national  and international sporting tournaments.

With 13 miles of beach, the Virginia Beach oceanfront, where multiple sporting competitions are held annually, is the perfect place for sea, sand and sun sports. The state-of-the-art Virginia Beach Sportsplex, accommodating soccer and other field sporting events; the newly renovated Virginia Beach Tennis & Country Club, offering indoor and outdoor courts; the Hampton Roads Soccer Complex, featuring 75 acres of green fields; and multiple other recreational facilities all provide excellent athletic event options.

The beachfront destination also boasts three beaches, countless restaurants and shops and over 10,000 hotel rooms citywide with more than 3,500 committable rooms located within 2.5 miles of the convention center. Mild year-round temperatures and first class service seal the deal on this sports events Mecca.

Wenatchee Valley, Washington

The Wenatchee Valley has incomparable facilities, fantastic weather, a fun community environment and a great location in central Washington State. Year after year, this is a destination that attracts return business.

When the games are over, the possibilities for recreation in Wenatchee Valley are just beginning. The Apple Capital Loop Trail borders the Columbia River for more than 10 miles and offers outstanding cycling, walking and running. The Foothills, meanwhile, are renowned for scenic hiking experiences. The Mission Ridge Ski area is only 20 minutes from town. Wenatchee Valley also offers whitewater rafting, kayaking, stunning golf courses and some of the most outstanding wineries in the Pacific Northwest.

The Wenatchee Valley Sports Council realizes there is more to the weekend than just the tournament and keeps its guests coming back by offering the total experience. For more information, check them out on YouTube,, or online at