On the Coast and in the Game
21 May, 2020By: Cindy Cantrell
The Mid-Atlantic region is a melting pot of large cities, rich history, diverse cultures, bustling seaside boardwalks, rolling countryside and unspoiled wilderness. Athletes who come for the sports will stay for a myriad of family-friendly attractions, bringing cosmopolitan appeal along with some of the coast’s most spectacular sights. They’ll also enjoy ease of access, while event owners will benefit from some skilled and enthusiastic sports commissions and CVBs.
Wicomico County, Maryland
Situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay, Wicomico County, Maryland is an ideal place to host sporting events.
Wicomico County is not just a beautiful Mid-Atlantic location, it’s a convenient one. Located within two and a half hours of Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, the area offers expanded, renovated facilities for all kinds of sporting events.
Home to multiple national championship events, the Henry S. Parker Athletic Complex recently underwent a $3 million expansion and now offers eight baseball/softball fields.
The versatile, recently renovated Wicomico Civic Center offers a 30,000-square-foot arena with 5,600 seats and a 10,000-square-foot secondary arena. The venue hosts basketball, wrestling, volleyball and cheerleading events.
Additional Wicomico County sports facilities include the Fruitland Falcons Sports Complex with four rectangle fields; the Crown Sports Center, a 103,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor complex; and the Arthur W. Perdue Stadium, home of the Delmarva Shorebirds, a Minor League affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles.
“The Wicomico County team offers first-class event servicing so you can vacation while you play,” says sports marketing representative Andrew Kurtz.
Harford County, Maryland
At the top of Chesapeake Bay, Harford County, Maryland offers an ideal blend of sports and sightseeing.
There is no lack of sports venues here. Baseball players can learn the “Ripken way” at the Ripken Experience – Aberdeen. On the same campus is Ripken Stadium, which is home to the Aberdeen IronBirds, a Single-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles.
The APGFCU Arena at Harford Community College hosts the Fighting Owls men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball teams, as well as various indoor events. Cedar Lane Sports Complex has 12 fields dedicated to soccer and lacrosse. Harford County also has multiple golf courses.
“This is a fun place to be, and easy to get to,” says Visit Harford Executive Director Greg Pizzuto, “which is why people keep coming back.”
Chester County, Pennsylvania
For those who want to upgrade their game in facilities and service, Chester County’s Brandywine Valley is just a call away. Location, affordability and the experience of hosting large tournaments and events are three key features that organizers look for – and Chester County delivers them all.
Located in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Chester County is the premier sports destination to “meet in the middle” in the Mid-Atlantic. The Chester County Conference & Visitors Bureau works closely with organizers and hotel and facility partners to meet any budget to ensure the long-term success of tournaments and events.
“We’re proud to have worked with many national governing bodies and tournaments,” says Travis Geiser, sports and events sales manager for the Chester County Conference & Visitors Bureau, citing the 2019 and 2020 US Lacrosse Youth National Championships, USA Hockey’s Tier I & II Boys & Girls National Championships and the 2015 & 2019 USA Curling Arena National Championships.
Atlantic City, New Jersey
The enduring popularity of Atlantic City begins with its location, within a few hours’ drive of nearly one-third of the nation’s population.
With 17,000 hotel rooms, guests are afforded options in views, fine dining and other amenities to fit a multitude of tastes and budgets. Its world-famous beach differentiates it from other gaming locales, and the five-mile boardwalk is the most historic in the country.
In 2019, the Atlantic City Sports Commission joined forces with Spectra through funding from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority to provide special flooring at the 486,000-square-foot Atlantic City Convention Center in order to keep costs low for events such as Zero Gravity Volleyball and the U.S. Futsal Northeast Regional Championship.
In addition, the commission has developed new partnerships with the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and Atlantic City Indoor Pickleball Open.
“When it comes to a sports destination,” says Daniel Gallagher, the commission’s director of sports sales, “we feel as though Atlantic City can compete with the best.”
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Always vibrant, Virginia Beach, Virginia, is home to rich history, a flourishing local culinary scene, varied arts and entertainment and family-friendly attractions.
Scheduled to open in the fall of 2020, the 285,000-square-foot Virginia Beach Sports Center will feature 12 basketball courts, 24 volleyball courts, a 200-meter hydraulically banked track and seating for up to 5,000 spectators.
With more than 35 multi-purpose fields, 11,000 hotel rooms and miles of beautiful public beaches in the region, Virginia Beach has all the perks of coastal charm along with big-city amenities to support events such as the North American Sand Soccer Championships and USA Ultimate Beach Championships.
Nancy Helman, director of sports marketing for Visit Virginia Beach, says, “We have a dedicated team with decades of experience in the tourism industry that always ensure that our facilities, venues, wide clean beaches, hotels, restaurants and attractions stand ready to make any event a success.”
An abundance of affordable lodging options, proximity to major markets and top-notch venues make Delaware 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 make any sporting event held in Delaware a win for everyone involved.”
The coastal city of Hampton, Virginia has the first-class facilities, as well as sports-minded planners, to help support your next athletic event.
The Boo Williams Sportsplex, a 135,000-square-foot indoor sports facility, features floor space for eight basketball courts, 16 volleyball courts, eight indoor hockey fields and a six-lane indoor track. Hampton Roads Convention Center can host an additional 12 basketball or 18 volleyball courts. In addition, Hampton University Convocation Center and Armstrong Stadium are equipped for a wide variety of sporting events, while serving as the home site of state and national championship events.
Langley Speedway has been voted among the top five NASCAR Weekly Racing Series tracks, while War Memorial Stadium – historic home of the Peninsula Pilots – is one of the few all-wooden ballparks remaining. Hampton features beaches and waterways that draw triathletes, sand soccer, beach volleyball, youth sailing competitions and international sailing rallies.
“Consider the Sports Hampton team as your partner in success. Name your game and we’ll show you Hampton’s advantages as host site,” says Mary Fugere, executive director of the Hampton Convention & Visitor Bureau. “We’ll take care of the details so you can enjoy the action.” SDM