26 Feb, 2021
By: Cindy Cantrell
The Mountain Region offers opportunity for adventure at every turn. The world-class terrain of the Rockies is ideal for skiing, climbing, trail running, mountain biking and more – as long as competitors can divert their attention from the breathtaking natural surroundings. The following sporting destinations also offer first-class facilities, affordable accommodations and all levels of competition.
In Missoula, Montana, teams and fans alike come together for the love of sport in a city gleaming with arts, culture, food, drink, rich roots and friendly locals.
The jewel of this family-friendly recreation hotspot is Fort Missoula Regional Park, a 156-acre complex offering 10 multi-sport grass fields, a synthetic turf field, seven softball diamonds, eight tennis courts, 22 pickleball courts, grass volleyball, basketball courts, three playgrounds, an outdoor fitness center, trails and event pavilions with concessions.
The city’s impressive facilities are rivaled only by its natural beauty, highlighted by mountain vistas and three rivers – including one flowing through the town center – nestled in a valley of five mountain ranges.
“Missoula’s offerings are many and diverse, and the hospitality and amenities are top-notch,” says Kara Bartlett, sales manager for Destination Missoula. “Folks visit Missoula for an event, then stay to play and explore long after the game is over.”
Kalispell, Montana is a bucolic Western town known for its charming downtown shopping district, craft breweries and distilleries, culinary diversity and recreation for all ages.
Tucked between the mountains of Glacier National Park and Flathead Lake, the region is an ideal destination for skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers. With more than 30 different playing surfaces and an adaptive field, Kidsport Complex hosts baseball, softball, soccer, football and track and field.
Woodland Park Ice Center offers a top-notch hockey rink equipped with stadium lights, as well as skating on a large pond. Majestic Valley Arena is a multi-event facility with 59,000 square feet of arena area, and Conrad Sports Complex is home to one baseball field and seven softball fields, two sand volleyball courts and one full basketball court.
“With ample event space, plentiful outdoor venues and over 1,800 hotel rooms, we’re ready and able to make your event a success in Kalispell,” says Diane Medler, executive director of Discover Kalispell.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Known as Olympic City USA, Colorado Springs offers spectacular vistas, first-class venues and an unrivaled sports culture. In fact, this Rocky Mountain region is home to approximately 60 national and international sports organizations, 24 Olympic NGBs and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and Training Center.
The newly opened U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum was ranked the No. 1 best new attraction in 2020 by USA TODAY. Weidner Stadium, home of the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, will open downtown in 2021. The Ed Robson Arena, a state-of-the-art sustainable sporting event venue and home of Colorado College Tiger Hockey, will also open later this year.
“It’s an exciting year for our region, with the opening of additional sports venues,” says Cheryl McCullough, senior director of sports and events for Visit Colorado Springs. “These projects will bring incredible indoor and outdoor space for hosting events and sports groups.”
Fargo and West Fargo, North Dakota, and Moorhead, Minnesota
Fargo, North Dakota, along with its sister city of Moorhead, Minnesota and the adjacent city of West Fargo, North Dakota, feature a variety of cultural influences, attractions and activities which are “north of normal.”
World-class venues include the Fargodome, an indoor stadium which has hosted USA Wrestling Junior and Cadet National Championships for more than 25 years. This year, the USA Softball 16UB Northern Territory Tournament takes place at North Softball Complex. The 2021 USA Swimming Futures Meet gets underway at Hulbert Aquatic Center, which features a pool used in the 2016 Olympic Trials.
Frostival celebrates the “cool” of winter from mid-January through February. The infamous woodchipper from the movie “Fargo” draws its own audience within the visitor center.
“We embrace the quirkiness that has come to be associated with the name Fargo,” says Fargo-Moorhead Athletic Commission Director of Sports Kali Mork. “We just do things a little differently up here, and we find our event clients appreciate that.”
When your next sporting event is ready for the next level, the staff at Legacy Events Center in Farmington, Utah will help make it succeed.
Convenient to I-15 and Salt Lake City International Airport, Legacy offers 15 acres of fields and 60,695 square feet of rentable indoor space. Soon to be remodeled, the events center will unveil innovative indoor spaces that will include nine volleyball courts and five basketball courts. Updated sports flooring will be compatible for events ranging from gymnastics to wrestling.
Area attractions include Lagoon amusement park, SeaQuest, Antelope Island State Park, 10 golf courses, nine ski resorts within an hour, 500 miles of trails and Station Park’s 100-plus shops and restaurants.
“Surrounded by the Great Salt Lake and Wasatch Mountains, Legacy’s customer service, attractive pricing and local attractions have helped the facility grow to be a premier site for sporting events,” says Jessica Merrill, tourism director for Discover Davis.
Boise, Idaho is a vibrant sports town with the experience to make events of any size successful. As such, the city has served as home site of the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games, NCAA basketball semifinals, IRONMAN 70.3 and US Youth Soccer Far West Regional Championships.
The Boise State University Broncos play on the famous blue “Smurf turf” of the 37,000-seat Albertsons Stadium, located on campus downtown. Offering 31 meeting rooms and 86,000 square feet, the recently remodeled Boise Centre boasts sophisticated streaming services along with GBAC STAR Facility Accreditation.
Youth sports are also abundant, as well as opportunities for skiing, hiking, mountain biking, boating and fishing.
“Boise offers the perfect combination of outdoor adventure and urban amenities, complemented by warm and welcoming locals,” says Brandon Fudge, sports sales manager for the Boise Convention and Visitors Bureau. “You’ll come to play but want to stay.”
Watertown, South Dakota
Watertown, South Dakota is a highly sought sports destination, with more to offer than almost any market its size.
One of the newest and most flexible venues is the 23,200 square-foot Prairie Lakes Wellness Center. Other assets include 12 softball fields, two golf courses (one with 27 holes), 30 youth soccer fields, a four-diamond baseball complex and a Minor League Baseball stadium.
Watertown, the first and only neutral site of any NAIA Division Championships not on a campus setting, will resume hosting the North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) Men’s & Women’s Final Four Basketball Tournament and NSAA Women’s Super Six Volleyball Championships in 2021-22, following a brief hiatus caused by COVID-19.
Watertown Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Julie Knutson notes that the 30 miles of trails and 25-acre Lake Kampeska are the perfect fit for a road race or triathlon.
“Watertown doesn’t just boast exceptional facilities,” she says. “The community truly welcomes and advocates for each sports event with incomparable South Dakota hospitality.”
Surprise, Arizona is an international sports and tourism mecca for fans of spring training, premier sporting events and regional festivals enhanced by gorgeous mountain views, more than 300 days of sunshine annually and myriad amenities as part of the Phoenix Metro region.
With convenient access to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Surprise is the spring training home of the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers. In addition to 15 Major League Baseball fields, the city offers the award-winning, 25-court Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex, 16 pickleball courts, an indoor sports facility and a new turf stadium for football, lacrosse and soccer.
Spanning more than 250 acres, these state-of-the-art facilities host high-profile events with Oregon State Baseball, NCAA, Perfect Game Baseball, USA Baseball, USTA and Ottawa University.
“The city of Surprise is committed to providing our event partners with the highest level of service,” says Kendra Pettis, the city’s sports and tourism director. “Our community provides an unforgettable experience for visitors with scenic views, outdoor recreation and a variety of dining and entertainment opportunities.” SDM