Staying at the Top of the Game in Greensboro
21 Jul, 2016By: Juli Anne Patty
Greensboro, North Carolina, is the chosen home of a vast array of sports events, from established high-profile events like Division I Men’s Basketball NCAA championships to new events like the inaugural USA Masters Games, a multi-sport, competitive event for adult athletes. When event owners are looking for a host destination with the experience, venues, attractions and environment to create the most successful event possible, Greensboro is at the top of the list. But that doesn’t happen by accident.
Greensboro’s secret to staying on top? A simple motto: Never stop. Whether it’s about finding creative ways to provide event owners with whatever they need to host the best possible event or taking their venues to the next level, the Greensboro team is always finding ways to make sure the experience they provide is top-notch. To that end, the city makes regular and ongoing investments in facilities. This year alone, a number of major facility renovations and rebuilds are taking Greensboro’s already renowned venues even higher.
Bryan Park Soccer Complex
Originally built in 1990, the original Bryan Park Soccer Complex had 17 fields covered in Bermuda grass, known for its high quality and speed. The facility has hosted countless successful events, and this year, they’re building on that legacy, or rather, expanding it.
The Bryan Park Soccer Complex renovation will take place over several phases and will take parts of the park out of service for short times (further evidence of this city’s true investment in keeping its venues in world-class shape) due to the fact that the fields must be reconfigured to fit in all the new features.
The new Bryan Park Soccer Complex will include:
21 fields, 19 Bermuda grass and two artificial turf, which provides nonstop sports action regardless of weather
Nine lighted fields
McPherson stadium complex featuring a fieldhouse, locker rooms/showers, press box, concessions, restrooms and seating for 3,000 with covered roof
High-speed, fiber optic data communications
On-site, full-service Subway restaurant and two additional concession stands
Field observation decks and various other Optimal Field Viewing areas
“Soccer is one of the top youth participation sports in the U.S. It’s growing so rapidly, and so are the facilities in other communities,” says Brian Ambuehl, sports sales manager, Greensboro Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We knew it was crucial to keep Bryan Park atop the competition, so we underwent a capital campaign that culminated in this renovation.”
The renovation was, in fact, motivated by serving the city’s event owners. Next June, Greensboro will be hosting the US Youth Soccer Southern Regional Championships, an event that requires a minimum of 18 fields.
“Being awarded the event was good incentive to get started,” says Ambuehl. “So that’s exactly what we did.”
The next phase of renovation is taking place this summer and be completed by season’s end.
In some cases, providing top-notch service to your event owners requires a bit more than a renovation: in the case of the Pavilion at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex, it’s more like a transformation. The facility is undergoing a $5 million total makeover to create an entirely new facility—The Fieldhouse—that will be home to the Greensboro Swarm, the Charlotte Hornets’ new NBA Development League affiliate.
The facility’s exhibit space will grow to 40,000 square feet, increasing by 25 percent to provide more room for games and team support. The Fieldhouse will offer 2,300 seats (3,000 for concerts), backstage locker rooms for two teams, referee (star) rooms, a fitness/weight room, media rooms, as well as other amenities for the Swarm’s daily use.
To create a true home team feel, new scoreboards, sound system and basketball floor and goals are also being installed. The Swarm will play all of its 24 home games between November and March at the Fieldhouse with playoffs in April, but the cutting-edge venue will also be available for other events. Designed to complement the other facilities on the Coliseum Complex—including the 22,000-seat Greensboro Coliseum, 167,000 square-foot Special Events Center and the Greensboro Aquatics Center—the Fieldhouse will raise the level of competition and the bar for championship venues.
Spencer Love Tennis Center
Even the best-loved facilities require regular TLC to keep them at top-competition level, and the Spencer Love Tennis Center is no exception. One of the busiest tennis centers in North Carolina, Spencer Love is now getting an upgrade in several phases.
Phase I, which is currently underway, focuses on refurbishing the existing 13 clay courts. Phase II will increase the number of courts from 13 to 18, renovate the existing tennis building, add a shade structure to the north end of the tennis building and convert the tournament court to QuickStart courts. A possible future third phase is also under discussion.
Leonard J. Kaplan Center for Wellness
While the city is always focusing on how to keep its existing facilities top-notch, Greensboro is also always adding new facilities as well. This year, Greensboro’s already impressive inventory of indoor multi-sport venues is getting a new addition as the University of North Carolina-Greensboro opens a state-of-the-art recreational center, The Leonard J. Kaplan Center for Wellness.
The center will feature three levels, including a five-court gym with wood floors, multi-activity court for indoor sports and special events, meeting rooms, locker rooms, racquetball courts and a climbing wall with boulder and anchored climbing.
“With the multiple courts in one location, the facility will be particularly well-suited to multi-court indoor sports events, such as basketball, volleyball and, one of our growing sports in Greensboro, table tennis,” says Dennis Edwards, sports sales manager, Greensboro Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Making continuous investments in its venues is one way Greensboro maintains its commitment to the event owners it serves, but the city is also always willing to try something new. It’s a characteristic that helps the city add major events to its experience roster all the time. Take table tennis and volleyball, for example.
USA Table Tennis (USATT) chose the Greensboro Coliseum Complex as the host site for its 2016 US Olympic Table Tennis Trials, which took place in February 2016, citing the city as the best place for their athletes to showcase their sport to the greatest number of people possible.
The 2016 US Olympic Table Tennis Trials took place in the Coliseum Complex’s Special Events Center, a venue that includes three exhibition halls, a 5,000-seat mini-arena and nine meeting rooms.
Volleyball has also taken hold in Greensboro. The Coliseum has recently invested in a Sport Court system, the top-notch flooring system used by USA Volleyball Olympic National Teams and the NCAA Men's and Women's Volleyball Championships, to accommodate its growing number of volleyball tournaments. The easily-installed interlocking flooring system can accommodate 12 volleyball courts and eight basketball courts simultaneously.
Volleyball is popular in Greensboro in all its forms, with a new sand volleyball facility in the works at a local country club, Pinetop Sports Club.
“The popularity of sand volleyball is exploding everywhere, and in Greensboro, it’s just off the charts,” says Ambuehl. “A local country club decided to take some little-used tennis courts and convert them into seven competition-level sand volleyball courts.”
The new facility, which includes six regular competition courts, a championship court, bleacher seating and showers, is already in use, hosting an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) qualifying event for their sand volleyball national championships.
Always Something New
Whether it’s a renovation, a rebuild, a new facility or a whole new sport, Greensboro takes sports of all kinds to an entire new level. But another reason event owners like to bring their events to Greensboro is that they take fun to a whole new level as well. SKYWILD, Greensboro’s animal-themed ropes adventure course, is just one way sports events participants in Greensboro get to experience some thrills both on and off the playing field.
For more information about how you can offer your athletes the best possible experience at your next event, get in touch with Greensboro: www.visitgreensboronc.com.