Kentucky

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Elizabethtown Sports Park: A Sports Traveler’s Paradise

16 Feb, 2015

By: Juli Anne Patty

Elizabethtown, Kentucky, is a town that listens. In 2009, their research showed that there was a need for a state-of-the-art, tournament-quality sports park, so they built one. Now they have commissioned a study to tell them exactly what all of their guests, many drawn by the Elizabethtown Sports Park, needed most.

That study, created by the Elizabethtown Tourism & Convention Bureau (ETCB) and Zeitgeist Consulting, revealed that Elizabethtown’s sports guests are eager for enhanced entertainment, shopping, dining and lodging options. True to form, Elizabethtown is leaping into action, preparing a whole new lineup of traveler’s delights.

Always Swing for the Fences

Elizabethtown Sports Park, known as E-town, operates on the philosophy of going above and beyond. It starts with the facility itself, built to exceptional standards, built to exceed every guest’s expectations. It extends to the operation of that facility, with total of 96 seasonal employees who keep the Park in pristine championship condition.

With sports at the center of the action, the whole community continues to grow and flourish, a process that took off when the idea for the E-Town park took hold.

“We visited a number of facilities in the South to get ideas and to make sure we had what we needed,” Janna Clark, sports and sales director, Elizabethtown Sports Complex, told New York Times reporter Keith Schneider in a 2011 article. From that and a broad range of additional research, Elizabethtown began work on a sports facility that would make sports tourism recordbooks.

E-town opened in mid-2012 to rave reviews, and in 2014, an independent study showed that E-town had a remarkable economic impact amounting to $11.9 and $14.1 million in direct spending of new visitor dollars during its first year of operation.

All of that insistence on excellence at E-town has created the huge influx in tourism, putting Elizabethtown in the enviable position of growing to serve their guests.

Welcome to Historic Downtown Elizabethtown

Located between the major lodging corridor and the Sports Park, just a few miles away, the city’s historic downtown has received new life in the last year and the enhancements and additions just keep on coming.

“We are in the early stages of a very cool downtown revitalization, with all kinds of changes that will offer more to do, provide great new dining options and make downtown even more family friendly,” says Clark. “Already there are a number of new cafes, galleries and shops.”

Some of the exciting developments include plans to join in on a Kentucky tradition, the Bourbon Trail. Boundary Oak Distillery, Hardin County’s first craft distillery, is hoping for revised alcohol laws soon, allowing them to open a tasting room.

The Zeitgeist study demonstrated the committee’s excitement at Elizabethtown’s downtown reimagining: “… a public revitalization of one block turned into an eight block stretch of Main Street that is now buzzing with activity from both the residents and visitors alike.”

Downtown is not the only area of Elizabethtown seeing changes. Plans are also in the works for new and totally renovated hotels, additional recreational opportunities and enhanced retail options.

“We have this wonderful opportunity to make changes and additions to further delight all of our visitors,” says Clark. “It’s a process, and we’ll be announcing and finishing new projects all the time. Every time you come to the Elizabethtown Sports Park, we hope you’ll discover something new and exciting during your visit.”

But Don’t Take It From Us

When it comes to explaining what it really means to be a guest at Elizabethtown Sports Park, the real experts are the people whose events call it home:

“I cannot speak highly enough about Elizabethtown Sports Park. We originally signed on to do a single event at the park but had such a great experience that we added two additional weekends of soccer and one weekend of lacrosse. The park itself is state of the art. The playing fields are always in excellent condition regardless of how much use they have seen. The attention to detail is unmatched; whether it is the signage at the park, or things like power supply for vendors – not typical features you find at many parks. Our tournament participants were so pleased with the facility that many committed to return the following year before the event was over and encouraged other teams within their club to sign up as well. This makes marketing our tournaments much easier. However, the greatest asset of Elizabethtown Sports Park is its staff. They are friendly, welcoming and hardworking. They provide out of the box solutions to issues that may arise such as weather, parking, etc.”

Matthew Libber, CSEE

Vice President of Operations and Business Development

Elite Tournaments

“The Elizabethtown Sports Park was a much needed soccer facility when it opened in 2012; it allowed Kentucky Youth Soccer to hold statewide events and tournaments in a centralized location. The complex is very well thought out and the playing conditions are excellent for games and events. No detail was overlooked during construction. Having a professional and detailed orientated staff makes for a wonderful experience for our soccer families. We look forward to working with the entire ESP staff for many years to come.” 

Bryan Brooks

Director of Programs & Marketing

Kentucky Youth Soccer

“The Elizabethtown Sports Park is one of the favorite tournament locations for hundreds of travel baseball teams throughout the U.S. and Canada. It can’t get any easier than working with the Sports Park staff and Tour E-town staff to organize a jam-packed travel baseball tournament on 12 fields. This experienced group of professionals provides excellent support and keeps the fields and park clean and in amazing condition, and are responsive when needed. They allow our Game Day USA staff to manage the tournament, but we know they are just a quick phone call away if needed.”

Don Flynn

Executive Vice President

Game Day USA

“The facility at Elizabethtown has been the home to the Lacrosse State Fair since 2013. Working with Janna Clark and her team at the Elizabethtown Sports Park has been a really great experience for NXTsports. The fields at the Sports Park are amazing, and the design of the facility is perfect for tournaments, with ample parking, shade structures, permanent concession and restroom facilities, power sources and more. The Lacrosse State Fair has become a permanent stop on many club teams summer tournament schedule, and we look forward to continuing to work with the Elizabethtown Sports Park and CVB.”

Robin Baxter

Vice President, Events

NXT Sports

“E-town is a fantastic facility, with a layout that is very conducive to capturing all our participants in one big experience. No one is spread out too far, and it feels like everyone is there for a big party. And I can’t say enough about the staff. The turf maintenance staff is some of the best I’ve ever seen. They know their fields well and put a lot of care into them. There’s clearly a lot of passion. They want to make sure every field is always in prime condition and ready for play. The whole staff is eager and welcoming. During our events, they come by all the time just to show their hospitality and ask if we need anything. Janna is fantastic because she helps with partnerships in the area. She introduced us to partners and sponsors in the area who embrace our mission which is to create experiences that allow kids to make great memories while playing in a variety of youth baseball events throughout the U.S. If we’re going to achieve our mission, we can’t do it without those kinds of partners.

And one other thing—something that as a rights holder you don’t see a lot, that we do see at E-town – is elected officials getting involved. When they get involved, the whole city gets involved. The CVB gets the word out to the hotels, shops and restaurants and the whole community gets excited. We get a reception there that exceeds our expectations.”

Chuck Haddaway

Executive Vice President

Athletx

For more information about how to bring your next event to E-Town, contact Janna Clark at sports@touretown.com or 270-307-1355.

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