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All-Around Sports in St. Cloud

28 Apr, 2015

By: Marie Stenseth

It’s probably a safe bet that when you mention the state of Minnesota to people, the sport of ice hockey will, at some point, flash through their minds. Minnesota, it’s true, is incredibly well-equipped when it comes to ice hockey—from excellent venues to leagues for all ages. But in this state of hockey, the action isn’t just on the ice.

In fact, in the picturesque city of St. Cloud, which is just 65 miles northwest of Minneapolis-St. Paul, you can find pretty much any sport, for every season. Sure, there are the traditional winter sports such as ice hockey, figure skating and cross-country skiing. But St. Cloud, whose nickname is the Granite City because of the granite quarries that have operated in the area since the 1880s, also is a haven for warm-weather pursuits such as baseball, softball, soccer, water sports and much more.

“We are passionate about sports here in St. Cloud—all sports,” says Kelly Sayre, the director of sports and special events for the St. Cloud Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “And to help prove the point, St. Cloud was chosen to host the 2015 Minnesota State Senior Games, which will bring in hundreds of participants, competing in dozens of different sports.”

The annual Minnesota Senior Games, this year from May 28 to 31, is for competitors ages 50 and over. Both team and individual sports will be featured, including softball, basketball, volleyball, tennis, golf, badminton, archery, bowling, pickleball, table tennis and many more. A number of the events will be held at the Whitney Recreation Center.

“We have two baseball fields, 11 softball fields, four basketball courts, 12 soccer fields and much more,” says Marci Sussenguth, the recreation supervisor at the Whitney Recreation Center. “For tournament organizers, owners and coordinators who are planning their events, we have everything they’d need to run a successful event. We’re a one-stop shop.”

The Whitney Recreation Center is used year-round by many different organizations, but, says Sussenguth, the Minnesota Senior Games will help to showcase the facility and the St. Cloud area to people from all over the state. “The Senior Games will be a great event here,” she says. “We’re looking forward to bringing people to St. Cloud and to having a great tournament.”

In addition to hosting tournaments, the Whitney Center has many recreational uses. There are paved walking and running paths, a dog park and a recreation center with different exercise classes and fitness machines. It also has numerous courts, a climate-controlled suspended walking track and a fitness center. Full-service concessions are also available.

Hockey and Hallenbeck Hall

The St. Cloud area is home to seven colleges and universities, including St. Cloud State University (SCSU), Minnesota’s second largest university, and St. Cloud Technical and Community College, Rasmussen College and Globe University/Minnesota School of Business.

The St. Cloud State University campus offers the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center (HBNHC) and Hallenbeck Hall. These two facilities host many of SCSU’s home sports teams as well as many high school activities (St. Cloud has five high schools), outside organizations and many tournaments that come to town.

The HBNHC is home to St. Cloud State’s Division I men’s and women’s hockey teams. The 138,000-square-foot arena boasts two Olympic-size ice sheets and has newly renovated ticket offices, concession and outside areas. The expanded center also enhances the hockey experience with amenities such as gathering areas, executive suites, updated locker rooms and more. It all creates a rewarding environment for students, student-athletes and the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come to the arena every Husky hockey season.

In SCSU’s Hallenbeck Hall North, basketball, volleyball and wrestling utilize most of the space, and the gym provides seating for more than 6,400. The Aquatic Center features a six-lane pool and diving well. The South Field House has four basketball courts, six volleyball courts, a wrestling room, a 200-meter track and much more.

“The Hockey Center and Hallenbeck Hall not only meet all our college competition and student recreational needs, but we also work with the community overall and the CVB to help grow the economic impact to the city when it comes to hosting sports events,” says Ron Seibring, director of sports facilities for SCSU.

In addition to HBNHC and Hallenbeck Hall, SCSU has a Recreation Center that includes a fitness center with weights, treadmills, and exercise and training machines, as well as a three story-climbing wall and two dance studios. SCSU’s Husky Stadium seats 4,198 and has a state-of-the-art synthetic playing surface and lights for night games.

Every fall, the Granite Games comes to St. Cloud and uses the SCSU campus and sports facilities. The three-day tournament draws athletes from around the world who compete in a series of events. The Granite Games celebrate the competitive spirit of athletes of all levels and creates a festival atmosphere that unites fitness enthusiasts from many sports.

“The Granite Games brings thousands of athletes and spectators to St. Cloud and has a huge economic impact for the area,” Seibring says. “We go all out to take good care of participants and to make sure they have a top experience.”

Pineview Park BMX

From two-year-olds just learning how to ride a bike to Olympic athletes, the Pineview Park BMX in St. Cloud has catered to BMX athletes and competitors in many local, regional and national events. In the mid-1990s, Gil Umerski and Mark Post, along with a growing, supportive core group of racers and parents, approached town officials in St. Cloud about the idea of bringing BMX racing to the area. Pineview Park BMX Inc. was formed in 1998; on June 20, 1999, the park held its first race.

Today, after years of hard work and dedication, Pineview Park BMX has become one of the top facilities in the country. Every year, it host events such as The Race for Life, Minnesota Race for the Cure and the State Championship Qualifier. Pineview has hosted two Redline Cup Qualifiers, three State Championship Finals and four USA BMX National events. In addition, district, state and national champions have emerged through Pineview Park BMX. Alise Post, who represented the U.S. in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, came up through the ranks in St. Cloud. In 2006 she was voted Rookie of the Year by the readers of BMXer magazine and at 15 years old was the youngest female to hold the national No. 1 Pro Women’s title in BMX.

It’s About Location

“That old real-estate adage about ‘location, location, location’ applies just as well when it comes to planning and executing successful sports events and tournaments,” says the CVB’s Sayre. “And here in St. Cloud, our location is perfect for sports events on many levels.”

Located in the central region of the state and convenient to reach by air and car, the average high temperature in the summer in St. Cloud is 78 degrees, making the weather perfect for any event. The area also has more than 20 hotels that not only suit all budgets, but are conveniently located for athletes and their families.

“Sports event planners, athletes and coaches want all-star facilities, easy access, affordable and comfortable accommodations and dining options,” Sayre adds. “We have it all, including stunning views, close proximity to great recreation and plenty of entertainment and attractions for athletes and their families when not competing.”

Of course, along with the top-notch location for sports events and tournaments, organizers also can take advantage of the CVB’s complimentary tournament planning services. “Everyone at the St. Cloud CVB is committed to making your destination decision simple and easy, so your event is a success,” Sayre says. “We’re eager to show why St. Cloud is truly prime real estate for your next tournament or event!”

For more information, visit StCloudSports.com or call 800-264-2940.

About the Author

Marie Stenseth

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