Affordable, Attractive and Accessible, the Mid-Atlantic Wins the Hosting Game
12 May, 2021By: Cindy Cantrell
The Mid-Atlantic region invites visitors to explore its rich history, vibrant downtowns, arts and culture, family-friendly attractions and natural beauty. Sports are another important component of the region, which is home to professional sports franchises in the five major leagues, as well as the teams in the Women’s National Basketball Association and National Women’s Soccer League. This heartland of the East Coast is truly a melting pot of opportunity for athletes and families alike.
With updated facilities, vast outdoor venues and direct access to Lake Erie and Presque Isle Bay, Erie, Pennsylvania has been safely hosting a range of sporting events nearly every weekend this year.
ERIEBANK Sports Park, which completed a $9.1 million renovation in September 2020, offers two NHL-size ice rinks, four hardwood basketball/volleyball courts and 10 grass fields. The facility regularly stages youth hockey, soccer and lacrosse tournaments.
The Bayfront Convention Center features floor-to-ceiling views and space to host a variety of competitions. Downtown, UPMC Park finalized a $15 million renovation this year, and the adjacent Erie Insurance Arena has hosted the 2021 and 2011 NCAA Women’s Frozen Four, the 2021 College Hockey America Tournament, the 2014 NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Championships and the Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling Championships.
Named No. 3 on Bassmaster Magazine’s 100 Best Bass Lakes of the Decade, Lake Erie will be the site of the 2021 TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Northeast Regional Championship from June 23-25.
“Whether on the water or on our shores, we’re proud that athletes are back competing safely in Erie,” says Erie Sports Commission Marketing and Communications Director Emily Biddle.
Valley Forge and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania
Valley Forge and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania offer some of the best indoor and outdoor sporting venues in the country with accessibility, affordability and top-notch attractions.
Home of the Villanova University women’s field hockey team, and temporary home of the USA Field Hockey team, the synthetic outdoor, lighted turf fields at the Proving Grounds in Conshohocken are striped for men’s and women’s lacrosse, soccer and field hockey.
Competitive Edge Sports in King of Prussia features five state-of-the-art floors for basketball and volleyball. Oaks Center Ice hosts MyHockey tournaments on three NHL-sized rinks.
According to Jon Scheuren, director of sports for the Valley Forge Sports Commission, the county is within driving distance for one-third of the U.S. and a major airport is 45 minutes away.
“With amazing venues and attractions,” he says, “you won’t find a better sports destination than Valley Forge and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.”
The state of Maryland is the place for play, with top-notch venues for basketball, baseball, softball, lacrosse, soccer, beach volleyball, triathlons, martial arts, fishing, quidditch, cricket and more.
The state (also the home of US Lacrosse) will host two new events in 2021 with international significance. The Maryland Cycling Classic, sanctioned by UCI and USA Cycling, will feature 126 Tour de France cyclists, world and national champions, Olympians and other cycling heroes from 30 countries. The 110-mile race on September 5 will be part of a three-day festival celebrating healthy living.
The inaugural Maryland 5 Star represents one of only two 5 Star equestrian competitions in the U.S. and seven worldwide. Taking place from October 14-17 at the newly constructed Fair Hill Special Event Zone in Elkton, the eventing competition will showcase dressage, cross-country and show jumping.
“Maryland is ready with superior facilities, partnerships, transportation access and resources to host successful competitions at every level,” says Maryland Sports Project Manager Ashley Harper Cottrell.
Centrally located and affordable, with optionality in facilities, Delaware is a triple threat when it comes to hosting sports.
It is within short driving distance throughout the Mid-Atlantic, and no sales tax on shopping and dining creates cost savings for athletes and their families. With southern Delaware’s newest addition of Sandhill Fields, the state truly offers regional variety to organizers.
This year alone, the schedule of events features large national sports organizations, including the American Junior Golf Association and US Lacrosse. In 2022, Delaware will host the BMW Championship on the PGA TOUR, a first for the state.
“It’s more than the terrific facilities,” says Ryan Wolfe, sports sales leader for the Delaware Tourism Office. “Off the field, Delaware provides so many things to do for families, from the beaches to tax-free shopping.”
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Virginia Beach has the venues, natural beauty and track record to take your event to the next level.
Open since fall 2020, the 285,000 -square-foot Virginia Beach Sports Center offers 12 basketball courts, 24 volleyball courts, a 200-meter indoor hydraulically banked track and seating for 5,000 spectators.
The column-free facility stands across from the Virginia Beach Convention Center, which was named a 2018-19 Best Venue by the International Live Events Association. The nation’s first convention center to earn LEED Gold certification as an existing building from the U.S. Green Building Council, this eco-friendly venue also follows the city’s VB Smarter pledge through touchless restrooms, MERV 13 air filters and contactless ticketing.
“Within a day’s drive from two-thirds of the country’s population, Virginia Beach’s wide-open beaches and Atlantic coastline allow for natural social distancing,” says Bryan Miller, general manager of the Virginia Beach Convention Center. “Hosting an event here offers the perfect blend of business and pleasure.”
Binghamton, New York
For athletes and spectators alike, the ongoing growth in Greater Binghamton, New York ensures a wide assortment of sporting events all year round.
The Binghamton Bulldogs are under contract to update the 13,000-square-foot indoor sports facility located at 1025 Robinson Hill Road in Johnson City into the Bulldogs Sports Complex – making the team first in ABA basketball history to have its own branded facility.
The $600,000 project, which is scheduled for completion in summer 2021, will feature one NBA-size basketball court, two high school-size basketball courts, volleyball, pickleball, cornhole, bleacher seating and numerous state-of-the-art touches and amenities.
Similarly, Binghamton University’s sports facilities in Vestal, New York will be transformed with a $60 million anonymous gift that will create a new baseball stadium complex.
“We are so excited to see new development taking place in the community,” says Judi Hess, director of Visit Binghamton. “We look forward to bringing even more competitions to the area.”
Albany Capital Center, Albany, New York
The Albany Capital Center, a convention center which opened in March of 2017, is a premier event space located in the Capital Region of New York in downtown Albany.
The venue offers a variety of event capabilities – from trade shows, conventions, banquets and meetings to high-profile sporting events such as the MAAC Volleyball Championship, NCAA Men’s Basketball Division II Championship, HV GamerCon and roller derby tournaments.
“We take pride in maximizing our space for events in all layouts, from corporate meetings and retreats to sporting events. Our 26,000 square feet of training space on our second floor has seen a high level of use as sports organizations and associations have come to us for a cost-effective and high-quality space,” says Doug McClaine, general manager of the Albany Capital Center.
Atlantic City, New Jersey
Atlantic City, New Jersey is known for its first-class venues, world famous Boardwalk, critically acclaimed dining, family-friendly attractions, tax-free shopping, comfortable accommodations and picturesque oceanside locations for events ranging from sand soccer and triathlons to pro watercross racing.
In March 2021, the MAAC Men’s Basketball Tournament took place at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall. Also this year, the Atlantic City Sports Commission partnered with 3 Step Sports to stage four youth basketball and volleyball tournaments utilizing the state-of-the-art modular athletic flooring at the Atlantic City Convention Center.
The commission’s commitment to supporting the sports-event community is further reflected in its role as host site of TEAMS ’21.
“We’re elated to welcome back our colleagues in event planning,” says Atlantic City Sports Commission Director of Sports Daniel Gallagher, noting that the city also hosted the conference and expo in 2016. “It will be yet another opportunity to show we’re open for business and relentlessly booking diverse sporting events.”
The Richmond region was named America’s #1 river city. Outdoor facilities include River City Sportsplex, a 12 lighted multi-purpose turf fields complex with 1,200 parking spaces, the host of events including IWLCA Champions & Capital Cup. Pole Green Park is another venue, with spectator-friendly 5K, 8K and 10K cross county courses. RF&P Park, meanwhile, has three fastpitch softball fields, one 90-foot baseball field, three 60-/70-foot baseball fields, two multi-purpose fields, and an 850-seat stadium that hosts top-notch baseball tournaments with organizations like Triple Crown Baseball.
For indoor facilities, the Greater Richmond Convention Center is a longtime home of USA Fencing and USA Field Hockey. The aquatic center, SwimRVA, has hosted events including USA Swimming TYR Pro Swim Series.
“The Richmond Region is a welcoming and inclusive destination for all sports of all abilities” said Jerrine Lee, Director of Sports Development “We pride ourselves on delivering world-class and authentic experiences for all event organizers, their participants and families. This is why you win when you choose Richmond.” SDM