South Carolina

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For Sports, Get into Gaffney, South Carolina

26 Aug, 2014

By: Peter Francesconi

Organizers of tournaments and events love to get into Gaffney, South Carolina. Located on I-85 halfway between Charlotte, North Carolina, and Greenville, South Carolina, Gaffney is highly recognized by travelers for its million-gallon water tower. (Trivia point: the “Peachoid” was named by Readers Digest as one of the best skyscrapers in America).

The tradition of sports and its support in the community is seen throughout the region. Gaffney has 16 high school state football championships, which is the most in the state of South Carolina, along with 16 state football runner-up finishes. In boys’ basketball, Gaffney High School has won the state title five times since 2002. Within the last three decades, Limestone College has received over 100 championship titles on national, divisional, and seasonal levels in both men’s and women’s sports.

Recently retired NFL wide receiver Sidney Rice, as well as 15 other professional athletes, grew up in Gaffney. To add to its rich sports history, Limestone College has produced 25 professional athletes, and former MLB pitcher Gaylord Perry is a past baseball coach at the college.    

“Over the past several years, Gaffney has enjoyed hosting state, regional, and travel athletics,” says Gaffney Mayor Henry Jolly. “Between our recreational, school, and collegiate fields, we welcome the opportunity to work with organizers to provide locations for tournaments, camps, and games.”

“We are very much a sports-driven community,” says LeighAnn Snuggs, the city’s director of marketing and tourism. “We enjoy great relationships with the Cherokee Recreation District and Limestone College. Local venues offer everything from lacrosse to field hockey to basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball and more.”

Recreation District

The Cherokee Recreation District’s Youth Sports Complex is a large spot of interest for those planning events. The complex has four state-of-the-art baseball fields, including lights, a press box and concession facility. The fields can be sized to fit the age of the players, have portable pitching mounds, and can accommodate softball games. The Youth Sports Complex has held regional and state events, in addition to local tournaments.

Nearby is the Cherokee Ford Recreation Complex, which has four regulation softball fields; these too have lighting for night play. The facility has a concession stand and press box. The Ford complex is a popular venue for softball. For the youngest softball fans, there’s a playground in the complex.

The multipurpose Babe Ruth Field can be used for softball or baseball. This field has portable mounds, base paths that can be changed and temporary fencing to adjust field size for players of all ages. Next to Babe Ruth Field is Fuller field, where high school teams compete; within walking distance is the Jerry “Jug” Wallace Field at Commissioners Park, which is the home field for Gaffney High School baseball.

“All of these fields—Jug Wallace, Babe Ruth, Fuller Field, and the four fields at the Youth Sports Complex—are close to each other, all within walking distance,” says Marcus Bradley, the director of the Cherokee Recreation District. The recreation district has a total of 26 fields available.

College Relationship

Another key sports partnership for the City of Gaffney is with Limestone College. “We work with the community to help host sporting events,” says Amber Anthony, Limestone’s director of athletic development and marketing.

Limestone has 25 sports on campus and various fields and practice facilities available, including a turf field for lacrosse and soccer. The Timken Center includes athletic training facilities and classrooms, in addition to a basketball arena with seating for 1,500. In addition to basketball, the arena hosts volleyball and wrestling matches and contains an aquatic center with a Junior Olympic-sized pool.

“We have all the facilities for any major collegiate sport,” says Remington Steele, Limestone’s coordinator of game day operations and special events. Limestone has hosted several large events including baseball, lacrosse and soccer tournaments. It has also hosted a Special Olympics event. Sports camps for all ages are held annually on the campus. Camps offered include lacrosse, soccer, tennis, basketball and more.

The Saints Field serves as the game-day competition venue for lacrosse and soccer, and has an irrigation system, as well as seating areas for fans. Timken Field serves as both a practice and game-day field for field hockey. For Limestone baseball, Bob Prevatte Field is one of the best in the conference and was just renovated to include new dugouts, fencing and backstops. Lady Saints Field (for softball) is currently undergoing renovations.

Other Attractions

The City of Gaffney hosts competitive cycling events through the streets of its historic downtown area. Hundreds of cyclists descend on the city for the Gaffney Criterium, part of the USA Crits Championship Series. Since 1920, Criterium racing has been a backbone for cycling in America.

“Keeping the tradition of Criterium, the Gaffney course runs through our downtown area on what some cyclists say is the most challenging of their circuit,” says Snuggs, who also serves as the City’s event planner. “We love that these races give us an opportunity to show off our historic districts.”

Gaffney also has a 3/8-mile dirt track for motor racing known as the Cherokee Speedway, as well.

Gaffney and Cherokee County have attractions to suit all visitors, including families traveling with young athletes. In fact, Cherokee County is the only county in the nation with three national parks—the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, Kings Mountain National Military Park and Cowpens National Battlefield.

Other off-the-athletic-field attractions include the Cherokee County History and Arts Museum, which recounts the county’s history and contributions to the arts and in shaping the culture of the Southeast. From April 18 to May 31, a Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit, “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America,” will be on display at the Gaffney Visitor’s Center and Art Gallery. Also at this time, the museum will host the “Mud, Sweat and Tears” sporting exhibit. These are made possible by the Humanities Council of South Carolina and part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian and State Humanities Councils nationwide.

For those looking for shopping deals, another attraction includes the Gaffney Premium Outlets, a major shopping venue with more than 70 retail outlet stores. Right next to the outlets is The Big E, which offers many indoor activities, including bowling, arcades, an eight-theater movie cinema, and more. The Big E also offers entertainment and party packages groups.

Located just off I-85 is the famous “Peachoid” water tower. The Peachoid is a 135-foot-tall, million-gallon water tank designed and constructed in the 1970s to represent the area’s peach industry. In addition to its attraction, the Peachoid is a destination for fans of the Netflix series “House of Cards,” in which actor Kevin Spacey portrays a U.S. Congressman from Gaffney.

Gaffney, South Carolina, is a great place to plan your next event. It is centrally located geographically:

  • 45 minutes from both Greenville, South Carolina, and Charlotte, NC
  • 90 minutes from Asheville, North Carolina, and Columbia, South Carolina; and
  • Three hours from Charleston, South Carolina; Raleigh, North Carolina; Atlanta, Georgia; and Knoxville, Tennessee.

“Our slogan, ‘Get Into Gaffney,’ fits quite well,” says Snuggs. “With the I-85 corridor connectivity, we are a small city with big-city access. It’s just easy to get into Gaffney from anywhere.”

For more information, contact Snuggs at events@getintogaffney.com or call 864-487-6244. 

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