Taking the Sports Hosting Game by Storm | Sports Destination Management

Taking the Sports Hosting Game by Storm

Jan 20, 2021 | By: Cindy Cantrell
Maine Photo courtesy of Colby College

Sports history runs deep win the Northeast region. Dr. James Naismith invented basketball in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1891, and William Morgan first played volleyball in Holyoke, Massachusetts four years later. Fans are respected for their knowledge and devotion and rewarded with state-of-the-art venues in which to cheer on their favorite championship-winning teams. 

Erie County, Pennsylvania

Known for its sandy beaches, vast open water, flat trails and grassy fields, Erie County, Pennsylvania is uniquely suited to outdoor sporting events.

With direct access to Lake Erie, the region is a popular location for tournament fishing, such as the B.A.S.S. Nation Northeast Regional Championship scheduled for June 2021.

Presque Isle Bay, a protected portion of Lake Erie, has been utilized for kayaking, stand up paddleboarding and open water swimming, with hotels, restaurants and family-friendly entertainment within walking distance. But the most popular attraction is Presque Isle State Park, which has hosted fishing, bicycling, 

running, beach soccer and volleyball competitions.

Mark Jeanneret, executive director of the Erie Sports Commission, says tournament organizers return year after year.

“From family-friendly attractions, a bustling craft beer scene, diverse local restaurants, tax-free shopping, a sprawling wine region and outdoor recreation,” he says, “Erie County really offers a little something for everyone.”

Rhode Island

The compact size of Rhode Island belies a wide variety of stadiums, fields and courts within easy reach of accommodations, making it a year-round destination perfect for youth sports, college and university athletics and professional teams.

Volleyball and cheerleading often take center stage at Rhode Island Convention Center, while ice hockey and basketball are frequent headliners next door at Dunkin’ Donuts Center. Outdoor facilities offer premier settings for soccer and lacrosse tournaments. 

“Unique, accessible and entertaining, Rhode Island is the ultimate playground,” says John Gibbons, executive director of the Rhode Island Sports Commission. “With so many possibilities available, sporting events and meeting options are only limited by your imagination.”

Albany, New York

The culturally rich Capital Region of Upstate New York draws visitors with its vibrant blend of historic roots, contemporary design, museums and an extensive array of sports and family-friendly events.

 A premier host site is Albany Capital Center, which opened in March 2017. Located in downtown Albany, the striking glass structure features convention, ballroom and meeting spaces with onsite parking and enclosed walkways to Empire State Plaza, Times Union Center, Renaissance Albany Hotel and the Egg Center for the Performing Arts.

 In addition to its diverse lineup of trade shows and consumer and special events, the facility was recently named home of the Black Watch Premier futsal training program from December 2020 through March 2021.

 “Using our three basketball floors on the second level, we were able to create 26,000 square feet of training space, completely separated from the lower level where we continue to hold small business meetings and webinars,” says Doug McClaine, general manager of the Albany Capital Center. “As a multi-purpose facility, we continue to find ways to generate revenues and engage our community. We look forward to providing all the top-notch amenities required to make your next event successful as well.”


Located between New York City and Boston, Connecticut offers easy access by car, bus, train and air to an extensive range of sports venues.

Whether it’s golfing at a world-class course, ziplining and go-kart racing, playing softball or pickleball, sailing or watching arena sports like basketball, ice hockey, MMA or boxing, the experience is memorable.

“We can offer more customized, affordable, personal service to organizers and athletes than larger metropolitan cities,” says Robert Murdock, president and sports marketing director of the Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau. “We’re ready to roll out the red carpet to welcome and service your event.”

Wildwoods Convention Center, Wildwood, New Jersey

Situated on the world-famous Wildwoods Boardwalk overlooking the beach and ocean, the Wildwoods Convention Center in Wildwood, New Jersey is as unique as it is state-of-the-art.

The 260,000 square-foot multipurpose facility regularly hosts basketball, wrestling, futsal, volleyball, gymnastics, cheer and dance competitions. Natural light streams through the Teflon-coated fabric roof, with ocean views visible from the main exhibit hall, lobby and outside deck. Events taking place directly on the beach include Ultimate, sand-based lacrosse, baseball and an annual beach soccer tournament involving 100 fields and 20,000 players.

According to Ben Rose, director of marketing and public relations for the Greater Wildwoods Tourism Authority, the Wildwoods Convention Center can accommodate groups of 100 to 10,000 while handling any sporting event with ease.

“We provide a full range of services in a spectacular setting you won’t find anywhere else,” he says.

Greater Binghamton, New York

With nearly a century of experience hosting teams and youth through professional tournaments, Greater Binghamton, New York is the place to find any sport in every season.

Its state-of-the-art, multi-use facilities include NYSEG Stadium, home of the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, AA affiliate of the New York Mets. The AHL Binghamton Devils, affiliated with the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, play home games at the Visions Federal Credit Union Veterans Memorial Arena, which also hosts basketball, gymnastics, wrestling and other sports.

Binghamton University, which fields NCAA Division I teams in every sport, recently received an anonymous $60 million gift which will fund an 84,000 square-foot baseball stadium complex. 

“If you love sports as much as we do, Greater Binghamton has you covered in great venues at every level,” says Judi Hess, director of Visit Binghamton.


Its nickname may be Vacationland, but Maine is serious about sports.

Set against a majestic backdrop of lakes, mountains, beaches and fields, Maine showcases spectacular natural amenities along with cutting-edge arenas for hosting events of all sizes.

The Harold Alfond Foundation recently announced a $500 million investment to benefit eight institutions, including the University of Maine System, the University of New England, Thomas College and Colby College. Opened in September 2020, Colby’s 50,000-square-foot Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center is a comprehensive NCAA Division III facility where the O’Donnell Forum rink is named in honor of legendary Colby hockey coach and Hockey Hall of Famer Jack Kelley.

According to Maine Sports Commission Director Sheila Brennan Nee, the state’s extensive trail system is being further developed to host even more diverse, year-round recreation and events.

“Winter play in Maine is a natural fit,” she says. “Gear up and c’mon up for some of our classic events!”

Valley Forge and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania

Valley Forge and Montgomery County have room to stay and diverse places to play, all just 18 minutes from downtown Philadelphia.

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 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, and Oaks Center Ice hosts MyHockey tournaments on three NHL-sized rinks.

“Valley Forge and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania have everything needed for large sporting events,” says Jon Scheuren, director of sports for the Valley Forge Sports & Tourism Authority. “With 20 tournament-ready facilities, our team will be by your side to help guide you through the entire process.”

Lake George, New York

The Lake George region of New York’s Adirondacks offers a range of family-friendly activities, along with 32 baseball/softball fields, 21 soccer/lacrosse fields, a rodeo facility, two ski areas and multiple indoor multi-sport facilities.

It is also a haven for cyclists, boasting 200 miles of trails, paved paths and on-road options. Events include the Churney Gurney Mountain Bike Festival & Trail Race and Stone Bridge Caveman 6K & 15K Snowshoe.

“The diversity of lodging, natural and man-made venues, shopping, attractions, dining and more set our destination apart for sporting events,” says Gina Mintzer, executive director of the Lake George Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Offering several lakes, beautiful mountain landscapes and year-round activities, the Lake George region is sure to make teams – and those who come to cheer them on — feel like winners.” SDM