Mark Twain is credited as saying, “If you don’t like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes.”
Indeed, the range of sultry to polar temperatures over the course of the changing seasons in the Northeast is conducive to a range of sports, from the “Big Four” of football, baseball, basketball and hockey to niche events such as the North American Wife Carrying Championship at Sunday River, Maine. The following time-tested locations are ready to host your next competition as well.
As a sports destination, Erie, Pennsylvania is celebrated for its high-quality venues, easy access from major cities, plentiful hotel and entertainment options and location on Lake Erie at scenic Presque Isle Bay.
Event planners receive added value from the Erie Sports Commission (ESC) in terms of exceptional service, event support grants and staff members providing venue and facility procurement, marketing and public relations, volunteer recruitment, government and city support, event management and hospitality. In fact, the Sports Events and Tourism Association (Sports ETA) named ESC its Sports Commission of the Year in 2014 and 2016.
“First-time guests are often surprised by how much activity is really going on in Erie,” says Mark Jeanneret, executive director of the Erie Sports Commission. “We have hundreds of unique restaurants, great tax-free shopping, family-friendly attractions and a bustling craft beer and local wine scene. Once visitors see all that we have to offer, they want to come back.”
Though compact in size, Rhode Island offers a wide variety of stadiums, fields and courts within easy reach of accommodations. The Ocean State is a year-round destination perfect for youth sports, college and university athletics and professional teams.
After the final whistle blows, there are plenty of family-friendly activities, pristine beaches and award-winning restaurants never more than a short drive away. The Rhode Island Convention Center and Dunkin’ Donuts Center are located in the heart of downtown Providence, just steps from nationally recognized hotels, dining, shopping and attractions.
Centrally located between New York City and Boston, Rhode Island is easily accessible by car, rail or air. In fact, approximately 25 percent of the nation’s population lives within 500 miles of the state.
“Rhode Island is the ultimate playground for sporting events or meetings,” says John Gibbons, executive director of the Rhode Island Sports Commission. “The accessibility of attractions and accommodations, in addition to first-class facilities, is our home-court advantage.”
Connecticut has an extensive range of sports venues for all levels – public and private, collegiate and university, state-owned stadiums and arenas – that offer tremendous opportunities for regional tournaments and national championships.
Whether it’s golfing at a world-class golf course, going ziplining and go-kart racing, playing softball or pickleball, sailing on Long Island Sound or watching arena sports like basketball, ice hockey, MMA or boxing, the experiences are memorable.
Located conveniently between New York City and Boston, Connecticut offers easy access from car, bus, train or air. Over 23.5 million people live within a two and one-half hour drive to Hartford, the state’s capital – a major selling point for sports promoters and organizers, and meetings, conventions, trade shows and sporting events.
“The state of Connecticut is compact, making it easy for athletes, officials and attendees to enjoy numerous nearby attractions when not competing,” says Robert Murdock, president of the Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau. “Very simply, there’s something for everyone.”
Boasting the largest area free of light pollution in the eastern U.S., Maine’s clear skies create an iconic backdrop for countless sports and events – day or night.
Fishing tournaments take place on ice and open waters, and mountain trails suit skiers, snowboarders, hikers, runners and cyclists. Modern venues host an array of sports events year-round, while the state – named as a “top 5 World Travel Destination” by Lonely Planet – also rises to the top of national food and beverage lists.
Portland is home to the Maine Mariners, an ECHL hockey team whose home ice is the Cross Insurance Arena; Maine Red Claws, a G League basketball team affiliate of the Boston Celtics which plays at the historic Portland Exposition Building; and Portland Sea Dogs, the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox which competes at Hadlock Field.
“Maine and sports are a natural fit,” notes Sheila Brennan Nee, strategic director of the Maine Sports Commission.
Wildwoods Convention Center, Wildwood, New Jersey
With an eye-popping 260,000 square feet, it’s no wonder this multi-purpose 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 area and outside deck. Events, such as Ultimate, can take place directly on the beach, as can sand-based lacrosse, baseball and a recent beach soccer tournament with 100 fields and 20,000 players.
The unique location is enhanced by direct access to the world-famous Boardwalk, with over 100 rides and attractions, three water parks, arcades, shops and eateries stretching for 38 blocks. The convention center’s catering and concession services also offer everything from pizza to four-star cuisine.
“The facility can handle any kind of sporting event with ease,” says Ben Rose, director of marketing and public relations for the Greater Wildwoods Tourism Authority. “It’s an experience you can’t get anywhere else.”
Lake George, New York
In the Lake George Area of New York’s Adirondacks, there is plenty of land – and there are plenty of trails for events to use.
A haven for cyclists, the area boasts 200 miles of trails, as well as paved paths and on-road options. Events hosted in Lake George include the Churney Gurney Mountain Bike Festival & Trail Race and Stone Bridge Caveman 6K & 15K Snowshoe.
Lake George has been ranked as the No. 3 cleanest lake in the country by Oyster Magazine, and the surrounding region offers 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. An eclectic mix of restaurants is complemented by picturesque lakeside dining and a robust craft beverage trail.
“With so many great activities, world-class sport venues and affordable lodging, the Lake George Area isn’t just a sporting destination,” says Kristen Hanifin, sales director for the Lake George Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s a sporting vacation.”
Greater Binghamton, New York
With its storied history of showcasing sporting events from the local level to the national stage, Greater Binghamton offers an assortment of state-of-the-art, multi-use athletic facilities.
The AHL Binghamton Devils, affiliated with the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, play home games at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena, which can also host basketball, gymnastics, wrestling and other sports. The Binghamton Rumble Ponies, AA affiliate of the NY Mets, competes at NYSEG Stadium, site of the 2020 Eastern League All-Star Game.
The domed Greater Binghamton Sports Complex allows for simultaneous play on two softball fields or five soccer fields, while Binghamton University’s campus is home of the Division I Bearcats and numerous venues.
Players craving downtime may cheer on semi-pro football and basketball action, catch golf and tennis professionals or visit the Internet-famous April the giraffe at Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville.
“Greater Binghamton is as well known for our hospitality as for our first-class venues,” says Judi Hess, director of Visit Binghamton. “We always look forward to welcoming visitors to our community and giving them a wonderful tournament experience.”
Top-notch venues, an abundance of affordable lodging options and proximity to major markets are just a sampling of reasons why Delaware is an ideal location for amateur and youth sporting events.
From the 76ers Fieldhouse and Kirkwood Soccer Complex in northern Delaware, to DE Turf in the central region and Sea Colony Tennis at the beaches, the perfect spot is available to fit any event organizer’s needs.
It is natural, then, that Delaware attracts high-profile tournaments such as the Senior League Softball World Series, an American Junior Golf Association tournament, U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships and Slam Dunk to the Beach.
“While visitors come for the excitement on the field or court, they stay – and they come back – for fun to be had in Delaware away from the athletic action,” says Ryan Wolfe, sports sales leader for the Delaware Tourism Office. “Relaxation on the beach, tax-free shopping adventures and delicious dining help any sporting event held in Delaware be a win for everyone involved.” SDM
Visit Monroeville Launches VM Sports, a New Sports Tourism Brand
VM Sports will advance sports tourism in Monroeville, Pennsylvania by taking advantage of the area’s many existing sports complexes to attract a diverse range of sporting events.
“When sports events, big or small, come to town, the athletes and their families and supporters bring their wallets. They’re looking for quality lodging, excellent food, entertainment and shopping. Monroeville has it all – along with proximity to a major international airport and downtown Pittsburgh. Monroeville, with its amenities and wide variety of sporting facilities, is the perfect place to bring their teams,” said Sean Logan, President and CEO.
Visit Monroeville is always looking for new ways to bring events into our region. “The development of VM Sports just formalizes our dedication to tap into this growing market. Sports are part of our area’s legacy, and we couldn’t be more excited about VM Sports,” said Amy Capcara, Sales and Marketing Manager.