Lubbock, Texas: The Value-Added Sports Experience
16 Jan, 2014By: Mary Helen Sprecher
When Lubbock talks sports, it’s time to listen. This is a city with a lot to say and a lot to offer. The venues are outstanding, the weather is inviting and the hotel rooms are plentiful.
But, says Scott Harrison, sports director for Visit Lubbock, it’s actually the people who make the difference.
“We hear it all the time,” he says. “People love the sports here, but they’re blown away by how friendly the people are. This is one of the most hospitable places. You see people smiling everywhere you go – in restaurants, grocery stores, everywhere. It’s a nice place to be.”
If good sportsmanship starts with a great hometown attitude, Lubbock is the place to go. This city of over 295,000 is situated in the northwestern part of Texas and has rich amenities at a great value to suit every visitor.
Venues for All Levels of Competition
Lubbock is uniquely positioned and enjoys a cooperative relationship with both Texas Tech University and Lubbock Christian University, both of which allow visiting sports events to use their facilities. Outstanding venues for baseball, softball, soccer, track & field, basketball, football, volleyball, tennis and golf await visitors. (A complete list of collegiate venues appears in the shaded box at the end of this article, and can also be accessed through links on Visit Lubbock’s website).
“We’re able to take advantage of our university facilities,” says Harrison, “so we can offer some really good venues.”
In addition, the area is rich in its school sports facilities, offering even more flexibility to incoming planners. The Pete Ragus Aquatic Center, for example, is a part of the Lubbock Independent School District, and hosts year-round programming and competition.
Lubbock’s extensive park system adds even more to the network of sports venues. Tennis, basketball and sand volleyball facilities, as well as soccer, softball and baseball fields are available. Fishing and boat ramps are also offered in many parks.
Need indoor space? Lubbock has it. The Lubbock Memorial Civic Center features a 40,000-square-foot exhibit hall that can be used as an indoor arena for sports events as well as for expos, trade shows and other associated activities.
Lubbock is ready to host a wide variety of sports. In fact, officials say, some teams have been finding the area downright irresistible.
Great Places for Great American Pastimes
“Baseball is driving our market right now,” says Harrison. “We host a lot of it.” Lubbock recently served as home plate for Premier Baseball’s summer league championship tournaments. Players in the 16U, 17U and 18U age groups traveled to the area, using not just from Texas but from states including Missouri, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio.
Softball planners have also made note of Lubbock’s great venues and great values. The USSSA’s summertime Goliath Tournament, featuring upwards of 100 teams at a time, has achieved great success. The Burl Huffman Athletic Complex, one of Lubbock’s most popular and extensive facilities, is part of the area’s municipal park system and includes four tournament fields for softball. Mackenzie Park has three tournament fields. In addition, practice fields are available throughout the Lubbock park system.
Lubbock Youth Sports Complex, meanwhile, offers 12 softball fields and four baseball fields and has become the go-to place for youth sports, according to Harrison. The area has also hosted the Buffalo Springs Triathlon.
Lubbock is an outstanding place to tee off too. Last spring, the city hosted the National Junior College Athletic Association Golf Championship at Rawls Course at Texas Tech. Rawls has been recognized by Golfweek as both the #2 Best Course To Play in Texas for 2013 and the #2 Best University Golf Course in America for 2013; it was also named Golf Digest's #2 New Affordable Public Golf Course in the US. It has also hosted American Junior Golf Association tournaments as well as numerous state golf tournaments. Lubbock boasts another half-dozen courses as well.
Lubbock offers an average of 263 days of sunshine every year. The typical daily temperature in June is 80 degrees and in January, 39 degrees. There is low humidity throughout the year.
Ample Accommodations and Eateries
Lubbock is ready not just to host athletes and their families but to house them.
“We have around 45 hotels and more than 5,000 hotel rooms in all price points,” notes Holly Givens, director of marketing and communications for Visit Lubbock. Lodging is an excellent value, she adds, with rates starting as low as $49 a night and going up to $189 a night. The average nightly rate of approximately $79 is welcomed by visitors who are accustomed to higher costs in bigger cities.
The availability of multiple hotels also means that sports events seeking banquet space or indoor facilities for sports festivals or other events have plenty of options. In addition, new hotels are under construction, so Lubbock’s hosting capabilities continue to grow.
There are also plenty of places to eat: Lubbock offers more than 1,000 restaurants, from familiar chains to unique local eateries. Lubbock also has five award-winning wineries, making tours and tastings a fun sidelight.
After the Games
When players leave the field of competition, they will find plenty to do in Lubbock.
“We have a lot to do for kids here,” says Givens. “We’re known for our western culture and we are the location of the National Ranching Heritage Center at Texas Tech, which shows the history of ranching.”
In addition, Lubbock has implemented its First Friday Art Trail, a family-friendly cultural activity where pedestrians can visit galleries, shops and other venues, and meet artists who are working in their studios or in the open air.
Lubbock is also the home of the Buddy Holly Center, which offers insights into the life of the late musician, and also promotes contemporary visual arts and music. Lubbock is the birthplace of several country stars and maintains a reputation as a hub of live music.
“We’re really becoming known as a cultural event center,” says Givens.
Interactive museums, water parks, theaters and even a top-rated drive-in movie theater also will beckon athletes to spend some extra time in the area.
Online and Ready to Welcome
Visit Lubbock’s website offers information on local events, weather and more. The organization welcomes requests for information from all sports organizers and stands ready to offer support to those who want to bring their events to Lubbock. Visit Lubbock can promote events on their site as well as on social media and on their organization’s blog, which describes upcoming events.
And that, says Holly Givens, is another advantage Lubbock can offer: the town’s hospitality and intimate feel creates a great environment for athletes and their entourage.
“When you’re in Lubbock, you are the big event in town and everyone knows it.”
To learn more about Lubbock, go to www.Visit Lubbock.org or call 800-692-4035.
Texas Tech athletic facilities:
Baseball: Dan Law Field has seating for over 5,000 spectators and offers excellent sightlines
Football: Jones AT&T Stadium (“The Jones”) has a synthetic turf surface and seats 60,000-plus; TTU has a separate football training facility
Soccer: John Walker Soccer Complex (outdoor facilities and the Gerald Myers Indoor Soccer Facility)
Softball: Rocky Johnson Field (“The Rock”) is one of the Big 12’s finest diamonds
Track & Field: The Terry & Linda Fuller Track features a Mondo surface and a full complement of field events
Tennis: The Don and Ethel McLeod Tennis Center features 12 courts with spectator capabilities
Basketball and Volleyball: The United Spirit Arena (USA) seats 15,000 and includes luxury amenities. Can host indoor events like gymnastics and cheer
Golf: The Rawls Course
Lubbock Christian University facilities:
Softball: Plains Capital Park has excellent athletic facilities, spectator seating and a press box; amenities include offices, training areas and more
LCU Soccer Field allows spectators to watch from nearby berms, or to bring picnic blankets or chairs
Baseball: Hays Field has an artificial turf surface and a crushed brick warning track, 1,500 permanent seats and additional bleacher seating for up to 3,000
Basketball and Volleyball: Rip Griffin Center has offices, locker rooms, a VIP-conference and hospitality room, training room, weight room and concession area