A Winning Experience in the Smokies
30 May, 2018By: Peter Francesconi
Nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, the Sevierville, Tennessee, area is one of America’s favorite places to visit. In fact, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is America’s most visited national park. The area in and around Sevierville hosts nearly 11 million guests a year, who enjoy everything there is to offer, including the attractions, shopping, great food, history and more.
Combine all that with top sports facilities and a Convention & Visitors Bureau staff that helps organizers and owners with all aspects of their events, and Sevierville is a prime location for sports tournaments and events, making it ideal for athletes and their families.
“Sevierville is a great fit for a lot of sports,” says Amanda Marr of the Sevierville CVB/Chamber of Commerce. “Our Convention Center was designed to host competitive events. We have championship golf courses, and our excellent park and rec department maintains top facilities in the city, including five baseball and softball diamonds at Sevierville City Park, along with eight tennis courts and multiple fields. We have very flexible facilities in terms of the types of events we can host.”
Sevierville is easy to reach; it’s within a day’s drive from more than half of the country’s population. Sevierville has more than 4,000 lodging units, providing one of the largest selections of new lodging options in the Smokies. And important for tournament and event organizers and owners (and to parents and families looking to travel with their athletes), it’s one of the most affordable areas to visit.
Sevierville Convention Center
The Sevierville Convention Center, which opened in 2007, is at the top of a hill with great views of the Smoky Mountains and overlooking the two 18-hole courses at the Sevierville Golf Club. The multi-purpose Convention Center has two exhibit hall spaces: one offers about 66,500 square feet and one with nearly 42,000 — that, when combined, total just over 108,000 square feet, with a ceiling clearance of 32 feet. There also is an outdoor space of more than 54,000 square feet that can be used open or tented.
“We do a variety of events at the Convention Center,” says Kelly DeBord, the sales, marketing and public relations coordinator for the City of Sevierville. “We have a lot of volleyball, and in the last four years, we’ve really grown in the number of dance competitions we host. The Convention Center also is ideal for table tennis, cheerleading, gymnastics and competitive arts events.”
The Convention Center can accommodate up to 21 volleyball courts for indoor competition. DeBord says the city often works closely with K2 Volleyball Club out of Louisville, Tennessee, and KIVA Sports out of Kentucky to bring volleyball events to the Convention Center, with 225 teams per event.
Flexible space makes it easy to transform the Convention Center into a multi-stage facility for dance team and cheerleading competitions. Some of the large dance competitions being staged there include Epic Dance Showcase and Dance Machine Productions events. Recently the venue hosted the JF JAMfest Sevierville Nationals, and coming up in December is the Universal Cheerleaders Association Smoky Mountain Christmas Championship.
“These dance and cheer events continue to grow,” DeBord says. “Every year, more competitors and family members are coming to Sevierville to cheer on their athletes and performers.”
The Convention Center is unique for a number of reasons, she adds. “The load-in and load-out experience here is phenomenal. We’re the only venue in this region that has a 10-bay loading dock, with a full marshalling area. Plus, there is direct access from the loading dock to the exhibition halls and the ballroom space — it’s all on one floor.” Trucks can drive onto the convention floor for easier loading, which is especially helpful for events requiring heavy gear and equipment.
In addition, the Convention Center staff can help event owners with whatever might come up. “Our experienced staff can transform any event into an environment for success,” DeBord says.
Another appealing feature of the Sevierville Convention Center is that it is connected to Wilderness at the Smokies, a resort that has an indoor water park, two outdoor water parks and the Adventure Forest family adventure center. The 66,000-square-foot Wild WaterDome is the largest indoor water park in the state, offering a see-through roof, wave pool, indoor surf rider, waterslides and raft rides. The new Adventure Forest has a three-story ropes course, 25-foot rock-climbing wall, laser tag, mini-golf, laser maze and much more. In addition, the convention center is close to many award-winning accommodations, providing attendees with a variety of lodging accommodations.
The Sevierville City Parks & Recreation Department works with sports event organizers and owners, utilizing facilities that include three softball fields, two youth baseball fields, eight hard-surface tennis courts, a 25-meter six-lane outdoor swimming pool, a 25-meter six-lane indoor swimming pool and outdoor and indoor basketball courts.
The 30,400-acre Douglas Lake is an ideal spot for fishing events and other water sports, offering 555 miles of shoreline. The lake has excellent bass and crappie fishing (the 2001 B.A.S.S. Masters MegaBucks Tournament was held at Douglas Lake).
Sevierville also is home to excellent golf courses and is located near other top-rated courses in the Great Smoky Mountains. The two new championship courses at the Sevierville Golf Club offer challenging play with beautiful views — the par-70 Highlands course winds through rolling foothills, and the par-72 River course plays along and across the Little Pigeon River. For those moms and dads who may be watching their children perform and be on a time schedule, the club has added a par-37 nine-hole course experience. The Golf Club welcomes tournaments and golf outings, clinics and contests, offering venue and meeting space in the clubhouse. In addition, the Golf Club staff can help with full event planning and administration of tournaments and outings.
Of course, the gently rolling terrain in and around Sevierville also is ideal for running events. Sevierville, with its wide sidewalks and pre-established routes, can easily accommodate 5K races to half-marathons.
“When we have large events here, especially over a weekend, several thousand people are coming into this area,” Marr says. “Many of our visitors tell us they like to come to this area because they can bring the whole family, since we have so much to do here.”
When athletes are not competing, there is never a lack of things to do in and around Sevierville.
Visitors to the 800-square-mile Great Smoky Mountains National Park can take advantage of the remarkable views by car or by hiking, or group bus tours can be arranged. The caverns beneath the foothills are fascinating to tour and explore. There are also exciting white-water rafting and tubing adventures that families can enjoy.
Sevierville is the “shopping capital” of the Great Smoky Mountains, featuring outlet centers with more than 120 high-end, name-brand stores, along with one-of-a-kind boutiques offering many locally made items. Just down the street from the Convention Center is the River Landing Shopping Center, which has great places to eat, too.
There also are a variety of galleries, antique malls, boutiques, specialty stores, flea markets, outdoor stores and more. Museums abound, too, including the Tennessee Museum of Aviation with its many historic aircraft on display, Floyd Garrett’s Muscle Car Museum and the Smoky Mountain Knife Works. Nearby Gatlinburg is home to numerous attractions, too, including Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum.
Among the many festivals in the area is the annual Bloomin’ Barbeque & Bluegrass, which takes place in May and is now in its 14th year. The event draws the nation’s best barbeque cook teams to the downtown area for the Bush’s Best Tennessee State Championship Cook-Off and offers bluegrass music, arts & crafts, games and the Mountain Soul Vocal Competition, honoring Dolly Parton, who was born and raised in Sevierville.
Parton, the city’s most famous resident, played her first paying gig at the Pines Theater in the city’s historic downtown. Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country are located in neighboring Pigeon Forge.
Filled with great attractions, top sports venues and fun things to do, visitors to Sevierville are guaranteed a winning experience. SDM