Greenville, South Carolina: The Team of Your Dreams
30 Apr, 2013By: Juli Anne Patty
Set among the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the northwest corner of South Carolina, Greenville has long been a coveted tourist destination. It’s no surprise that a town with such deep hospitality experience would quickly become a hotbed of sports events as well. But what really makes this Southern charmer stand out among the competition is Greenville’s team approach to every new event. Bring your event to Greenville and you get unforgettable service and impressive facilities, along with an All-Star team of tourism and sports experts to ensure that every event is a home run.
Working together to attract and support sports tournaments and events, the Greenville Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Greenville County Recreation District (GCRD) combine hospitality proficiency with sports expertise to create the ideal team for sports success. A truly successful sports event offers the perfect blend of exciting competition with relaxing vacation and that’s where the Greenville team excels. The Greenville CVB assists with planning, attractions and arranging accommodations in the area’s more than 8,500 hotel rooms, while the GCRD creates, operates and maintains exceptional facilities for regional and national tournaments and events.
A special purpose district created by the South Carolina legislature in 1968, the GCRD exists to lead Greenville County in providing diverse, dynamic and ever-improving recreational opportunities in a sustainable manner. The GCRD offers over 55 parks, trails and recreation facilities, including eight community centers, six historic sites, three waterparks, an ice rink, an inline rink, a camp and retreat center and a 17.5-mile rail-trail greenway.
Staying On TRAC
In 2012, the GCRD completed their Tourism Recreation Athletic Coalition (TRAC) plan, which invested over $40 million to enhance and develop recreation parks and sports complexes. The TRAC projects included the expansion of the MESA Soccer Complex, the addition of 20 baseball and softball fields and the development of a state-of-the-art aquatics facility featuring a 50-meter Olympic-size competition pool and 25-yard five-lane warm-up pool. A few of the TRAC projects that are drawing events from around the country:
MESA Soccer Complex. The TRAC Plan supported the construction of eight additional soccer fields at the 60-acre MESA Soccer Complex. The resulting 16-field soccer complex hosts local, regional and national soccer tournaments. MESA is the home of the Carolina Elite Soccer Academy (CESA), the largest youth soccer organization in the state, serving thousands of local youth. The expanded 16-field complex was the key to CESA’s successful bid to host the President’s Cup in June 2009, which was a huge success, bringing 120 teams from the Southeast Region with an estimated economic impact of $2.5 million. CESA also welcomed the Southern Regional Championship at MESA in 2012. This seven-day tournament brought 208 teams from 12 states to Greenville County, filling 18,000 hotel rooms for an estimated impact of $8 - $10 million.
Berea/Travelers Rest Sports Complex. The original intent was to build one park; however, Greenville Tech offered 35 acres of land to build a sports complex at their Northwest campus and the former Travelers Rest High School, adjacent to the Greenville Hospital System Swamp Rabbit Trail, was for sale. Hospitality tax funds were used to develop a multi-field sports complex at Greenville Tech’s Northwest campus and to purchase the former Travelers Rest High School along with 22 additional acres of land adjacent to the school property. The facility, which consists of two parks—Northwest Park and the park at the old Travelers Rest High School—offers four soccer/football fields, eight standard baseball fields, one collegiate baseball field and sports lighting, among other amenities.
Westside Aquatics Complex. Once a popular destination for competitive swim meets before the facility exceeded its life expectancy, the Westside Aquatics Complex has received a new and impressive lease on life. The GCRD demolished the former building, saving only the original 50-meter pool shell. Today, in its place, stands a state-of-the-art aquatic facility including a 50-meter, Olympic size competition pool, a 25-yard warm water therapy pool, a meeting room and an exercise room. The new and improved facility is capable of hosting local, state and regional swim competitions.
An Investment in Excellence
The TRAC plan demonstrates Greenville’s commitment not just to sports but also to continuous improvement and sustained excellence. In total, the $40,385,000 capital investment in parks and recreation provided through the hospitality tax resulted in the development of eight new parks, two new waterparks, one new camp and retreat center, a 13.5-mile greenway and a new state-of-the-art aquatic facility. This investment also supported the expansion of Greenville County’s first waterpark and renovations and upgrades to Lakeside Park, the Pavilion Recreation Complex, the Sterling Community Center and Slater Hall.
It’s an investment in the health and happiness of the Greenville community and also a testament to the teamwork that Greenville brings to every event. That teamwork is already showing big results: between 2007 - 2011, the TRAC projects generated $16,730,378 in economic impact through sports and historic site related tourism, according to Clemson University’s Strom Thurmond Institute. The projected economic impact from 2012-2016 is $33,084,843.
The word about Greenville’s great facilities is quickly spreading. The TRAC facilities as well as other area sports complexes will be hosting the following events in the future:
• 2013 International Senior Softball Association Regional Tournament
• 2013 USA Karate Nationals
• 2013 USA Swimming Southern Zone Age Group Championships
• 2013 Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association National Championships
• 2013 Southern Conference Baseball Championship
• 2013 Nations Baseball 13U East Coast Nationals
• 2014 UCI Para-Cycling Road World Championships
• 2014 US Youth Soccer President’s Cup
The Destination That Has It All
Location is always a major factor in event planning and it's one that leads many event planners to Greenville. The perfect destination for southern and eastern regional tournaments, Greenville offers a central location and easy access via several major interstate highways as well as the Greenville/Spartanburg Airport, which is serviced by the major US carriers including Southwest Airlines.
From hotels and dining to attractions, Greenville’s wide variety of options in every budget make the destination affordable for teams and their families. Greenville events and attractions are geared to entertain a variety of age groups and interests, starting with beautiful Falls Park on the Reedy and the acclaimed Liberty Bridge, a 355-foot pedestrian walkway overlooking the historic waterfall in Greenville’s vibrant downtown.
Visit museums, galleries and the Greenville Zoo or take a drive upstate to see more than 500 historic sites as well as the famous Blue Ridge Mountains’ pristine lakes and forested trails. See tomorrow’s baseball stars today on the Greenville Drive, Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, at the award-winning downtown Fluor Field at the West End, or head out to one of the region's many universities and colleges to show some school support.
As long as you're there, don’t forget to work up a healthy appetite. Greenville treats visitors to some of the finest food around, from down-home Southern barbecue you’ll never forget to the finest that fine dining has to offer. Finish the day in one of the area’s luxury hotels, cozy up in a comfortable economy room or bed down by a fire in one of Greenville’s many cabins or campsites.
The South Carolina Upcountry is the “must play” of the Southeast for athletes and their fans. The climate, hospitality, accommodations and attractions are just right to keep every team in top form. The six-county region in the Northwest corner of the state is rich in culture, entertainment, natural beauty, outdoor recreation, shopping, dining and, of course, sports venues. From cosmopolitan city centers to the tranquility of mountain trails, a warm welcome is never far away.