Out West | Sports Destination Management

Out West

Aug 30, 2022 | By: Michael Popke

The states that form an uppercase “L” along the Pacific Coast and into the American Southwest offer a plethora of sports tournament and event options — from quadball (formerly known as quidditch) to ice hockey and just about everything in between. We begin our journey at the top of the “L,” in the farthest reaches of the Pacific Northwest.

Snohomish County, Washington

Snohomish County, Washington  |  Photo courtesy OF William Frankhouser

In 2021, sports events throughout Snohomish County resulted in almost 12,000 room nights, generating $1.2 million in hotel revenue and $14.3 million in economic impact, according to Tammy Dunn, executive director of the Snohomish County Sports Commission. All but three of those events were outdoors.

“Snohomish County offers outdoor beauty with the Cascade Mountains to the east and the Salish Sea to the west,” Dunn says.

Notable facilities include the Kayak Point Disc Golf Resort in Stanwood, the Meadowdale Athletic Complex in Lynnwood (which offers five baseball/softball fields) and the Phil Johnson Ballfields in Everett (with four turf fields). Everett also is home to the Angel of the Winds Arena, a 10,000-seat facility with two NHL-size ice rinks that host hockey, cornhole, figure skating, wrestling, gymnastics, cheer, dance, tennis and basketball.

The county also is looking to host more pickleball, which was named the Official Sport of Washington State in March 2022.

Eugene, Cascades and the Oregon Coast

Eugene, Oregon  |  Photo Courtesy of Ray Remmers / EugeneCascadesCoast.org

About 350 miles due south of Snohomish County is the Eugene, Cascades & Oregon Coast region. With the ocean, sand, mountains, lakes, rivers and several sports venues, the area welcomes a wide range of competition.

Not only does Hayward Field at the University of Oregon consistently host the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team Trials and several other high school, college and national events, but this year it also was home to the World Athletic Championships Oregon22, held in July for the first time on U.S. soil. Fans from every state and nearly 40 countries attended, and more than 1,700 athletes from 179 countries competed, according to J.B. Carney, senior director of the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sport Commission.

Beyond the campus is the Bob Keefer Center for Sports and Recreation — a 96,000-square-foot multi-use facility that is one of the largest in the Northwest, with three hardwood basketball courts and three multi-purpose courts. The Les Schwab Sports Park features four lighted multi-use outdoor synthetic turf fields, and the region’s newest venue is Civic Park, with a four-court fieldhouse, two outdoor courts and a lighted FIFA-regulation artificial turf field.

“This is such a special area for sport. There is not another place like it in the world,” Carney says. “Sport is bigger than the venue. Our community really understands and embraces that.”

Placer Valley, California

Placer Valley, California  | Photo Courtesy of Placer Valley Tourism

Placer Valley sits at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Northern California and is comprised of the cities of Roseville, Rocklin and Lincoln.

“Placer Valley is known for having nicely maintained fields and event venues, like the Robbelen Center,” says Donna Dotti, director of sales for Placer Valley Tourism, noting that the 160,000-square-foot facility houses 12 basketball courts or 24 volleyball courts. The building also can accommodate gymnastics, wrestling and martial arts.

Other popular venues include the Roseville Aquatics Complex (which boasts an Olympic-size competition pool that has hosted many USA Swimming and water polo events) and several regional parks with multiple baseball/softball and multi-purpose fields (including an indoor soccer arena at Maidu Regional Park and a football/soccer stadium at Mahany Regional Park). Whitney Ranch Park is the region’s newest development and features four lighted softball diamonds and connectivity to bike routes and trails.

Irvine, California

Irvine, California
Irvine, California

The ability to host a wide variety of world-class competitions in the same complex helps separate Irvine from other Southern California destinations, according to Dave Lucey, director of sports sales for Destination Irvine.

“Irvine is different because of our world-class facilities like the Orange County Great Park Sports Complex,” Lucey says, referring to the 194-acre venue, which boasts four ice rinks in a 2,500-seat arena, a 5,000-seat championship soccer stadium and 24 lighted grass soccer fields, six lighted baseball fields plus one championship stadium with fixed seating for almost 1,050, four lighted softball fields plus one championship stadium with 352 fixed seats, 25 lighted tennis courts, five sand volleyball courts and four basketball courts.

Meanwhile, the William J. Wollett Jr. Aquatics Center contains two outdoor 50-meter pools that host local, regional and national events, including USA Swimming meets and USA Water Polo tournaments.

Yuma, Arizona

Yuma, Arizona  |  Photo Courtesy of City of Yuma

The 50-acre Pacific Avenue Athletic Complex (known locally as the PAAC) features six lighted softball fields — including a championship field — and is located within 10 miles of eight other sports complexes that collectively offer 19 playing fields. The facility hosted the National Junior College Athletic Association’s Division I Softball Championship in 2021 and 2022, and local sports tourism officials say it has “immense potential” to attract youth and adult softball teams from all over the country.

“Yuma is a community that is excited about sport, tournaments and recreation,” says Marcus Carney, executive director of Visit Yuma.

As proof, he points to other high-profile sports venues, including the Ray Kroc Sports Complex, which is part of a 250-acre sports and recreation site that also includes the Yuma Civic Center, the Desert Sun Tennis Courts, multiple baseball and multi-purpose fields, and various golf courses.

Lubbock, Texas

Lubbock, Texas  |  Photo Courtesy of Visit Lubbock/Lubbock Sports

Head straight east from Yuma and you’ll eventually wind up in Texas, which is packed with sports tourism destinations. Among them is Lubbock, located just south of the Texas Panhandle.

In June 2020, Lubbock unveiled the Championship Fields at the recently renovated Berl Huffman Athletic Complex. The complex features 53 fields, and up to eight games can be played simultaneously, according to John Osborne, president and chief executive officer of Lubbock Sports. Lubbock also is home to the 60,000-square-foot Apex Event Center (which houses eight courts) and the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center (which can host karate, wrestling and other sports in a 40,000-square-foot, column-free exhibit hall).

On top of all that, Lubbock is accessible via five major roadways. “Because of our central location not only [in] the region but the country, Lubbock is easily accessible,” Osborne says. “Our plethora of venues makes hosting an event from bowling, diving and cornhole to express as jujitsu, quadball and anything in between a seamless process.”

Round Rock, Texas

Round Rock, Texas | Photo Courtesy of Round Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau
Round Rock, Texas  |  Photo Courtesy of Round Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau

Round Rock is deemed “The Sports Capital of Texas” because of its state-of-the-art indoor and outdoor facilities, according to Nancy Yawn, director of the Round Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau.

They include the outdoor Round Rock Multipurpose Complex, which has eight multi-use fields (four of them grass), one natural grass championship field and one turf championship field. The indoor Round Rock Sports Center boasts nearly 48,000 square feet of flexible and playable space, and configurations include six high school basketball courts, 12 high school volleyball courts, three NCAA basketball courts, and four badminton and pickleball courts. Round Rock is also home to Dell Diamond and the Round Rock Express, the Class AAA affiliate for the Texas Rangers.

“Round Rock is an ever-growing and diverse destination,” Yawn says. “We take pride in being able to host any sport with a field and court.”

Beaumont, Texas

Beaumont, Texas  | Photo Courtesy of Visit Beaumont

Our last stop, at the bottom of the “L,” is Beaumont, located in southeastern Texas and home to the Ford Park Entertainment Complex. Ford Fields offer 12 championship-caliber youth baseball/softball fields with all-weather turf infields, while Ford Arena offers 34,000 square feet of floor space and scalable stadium seating from 2,300 to 8,500.

The City of Beaumont Athletic Complex, meanwhile, hosts state, regional and national softball tournaments. With 12 fields, it can accommodate tournaments with more than 120 teams, according to Freddie Willard, director of sales for Visit Beaumont. The complex also can host soccer, basketball and sand volleyball competition, and its newest addition is the Beaumont Municipal Tennis Center, with 24 courts and raised viewing stands.

“With Beaumont’s ample fields and courts, we can accommodate any sport that can play in those types of facilities, whether outdoor or indoor,” Willard says. SDM

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