4 Sep, 2021By: Peter Francesconi
Destinations that Offer Everything Athletes, Families and Event Owners Could Want
When it comes to attracting sports events, each area of this country has something unique to offer — both on the field of competition and off. One thing is for certain, though — these destinations in the Southwestern U.S. and in the Pacific offer top-notch sports facilities, fun attractions, natural beauty and a rich history that athletes of all ages, and their families, will enjoy.
Surprise, Arizona, near Phoenix, boasts more than 300 days of sunshine a year and is surrounded by mountain views. Its world-class sports facilities are on one cohesive 250-acre campus in the heart of the city, within walking distance of hotels, restaurants and shops. The city hosts high-profile events in partnership with organizations including Major League Baseball, NCAA, NAIA, Oregon State Baseball, Ottawa University, Perfect Game Baseball, USA Baseball and the U.S. Tennis Association.
The 124-acre Surprise Stadium Complex is the spring training home of the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers, who play in the 10,700-seat stadium. The complex also features 12 auxiliary fields with additional clubhouse facilities. There’s also the award-winning 25-court Surprise Tennis and Racquet Complex and the 16-court Surprise Pickleball Complex. Ottawa University Arizona has the 1,500-seat Spirit Field, ideal for football, lacrosse and soccer, and the indoor Faith Arena, with multiple basketball and volleyball courts.
“We’re committed to providing our event partners and visitors with the highest level of customer service and premier sports facilities,” says Sports and Tourism Director Kendra Pettis. “Our community provides an unforgettable experience for visitors.”
El Paso, Texas
“El Paso and the surrounding region have exploded with new sports complexes, Olympic-sized pools, flat fields — you name it, we’ve got it,” says Brook Underwood, assistant general manager of Visit El Paso. “You won’t find a better spot to play or watch all kinds of sports, not to mention meet the most welcoming community out there.”
The 57-acre Westside Sports Complex has 13 natural turf fields (eight lighted), along with permanent concessions. The 80-acre Eastside Sports Complex features seven lighted, irrigated fields and a lighted championship-style field, along with shaded seating for 500 fans. Currently being developed is Eastside Regional Park, which will have four baseball/softball diamonds, six flat fields, 12 handball courts, four volleyball courts, a skate/BMX amphitheater and a 50-meter competition-ready aquatic center. The new Westside Natatorium is an International and NCAA Championship level facility.
Southwest University Park, which can accommodate 10,000 spectators, is home field for El Paso Chihuahuas Triple-A baseball and Locomotive FC soccer. And of course, the 51,000-seat Sun Bowl Stadium, home to the University of Texas–El Paso Miners, annually hosts the nationally televised Sun Bowl.
Lubbock is well-equipped to meet the needs of all types of sports events. With state-of-the-art facilities, athletes from across the country compete in tournaments of all sizes for sports such as soccer, football, lacrosse, boxing, Quidditch and more.
“Lubbock is no stranger to athletic talent as it is home to championship teams like Texas Tech University track and field, men’s golf, women’s soccer and men’s basketball, as well as women’s basketball at Lubbock Christian University,” says McKenna Dowdle of Visit Lubbock. “We promote our city as a premier destination for all types of tournaments and events, from diving at the Pete Ragus Aquatic Center to disc golf at one of the longest courses in Texas.”
The hub of West Texas boasts myriad new and recently renovated facilities. The Berl Huffman Athletic Complex, for instance, can host eight games simultaneously on its championship synthetic turf fields, including soccer, field hockey, rugby, lacrosse, football and more. In July, Lubbock hosted the 2021 USA Boxing National Junior Olympics and Summer Festival, with more than 1,000 athletes from across the country.
Snohomish County, Washington
“With the Salish Sea to the west, the Cascade Mountains to the east, and the urban setting in between, Snohomish County offers something for everyone in the family,” says Tammy Dunn, executive director of the Snohomish County Sports Commission.
Of course, that also includes top-notch sports venues and welcoming hospitality. The county has four baseball/softball complexes, including two with synthetic turf fields. Also big is disc golf — there are six courses, with two more under construction. And becoming more popular is cornhole; the local Emerald City Cornhole organization hosted a regional tournament recently at the Snohomish Sports Dome. Other sports — including spikeball, soccer, lacrosse, Ultimate, flag football, beach volleyball, archery, endurance races and more — continue to find welcome homes and venues, too.
This spring and summer, the Washington State Wrestling Association Freestyle & Greco Roman State Championships brought 700 athletes to the area for safe and successful competition; the Kayak Open Disc Golf Tournament had over 300 pro and amateur disc golfers from 14 states; and youth tournaments brought in 32 soccer and 77 baseball teams.
“Irvine offers a wide array of venues and facilities for virtually any sporting event,” says Dave Lucey, director of sports sales for Destination Irvine. “Some of the most beautiful facilities in Southern California are right here.”
The crown jewel is the 194-acre Orange County Great Park Sports Complex, which offers a 5,000-seat championship soccer stadium and 24 lighted grass soccer fields; for baseball, a 1,046-seat stadium, plus six other lighted diamonds; a softball stadium, plus four lighted, standard softball diamonds; 25 lighted tennis courts with spectator seating and concessions; an ice facility with three NHL-size and one Olympic-size rinks in a 2,500-seat arena; five lighted sand volleyball courts including a 164-seat championship court; four basketball courts and a playground. Plus, construction will begin soon on a $250 million USA Water Polo and aquatics facility, to include a field house for basketball and volleyball.
But that’s not all — there’s also the Momentous Sports Center with 15 basketball, 22 volleyball and 15 futsal courts; and the world-class William J. Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center for local, regional and national events.
Eugene, Cascades and Coast, Oregon
The Eugene, Cascades and Coast region is an adventure-driven destination loaded with natural beauty — and this translates well for sports events and tournaments.
“Mild summers, turf fields and indoor facilities provide us with the opportunity to host sports events year-round. Plus, we have amazingly beautiful venues that help make the region a popular sports destination,” says Joey Jewell, senior director of the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports Commission. “Our region is known for being unique. We’re all about giving athletes something they can’t get anywhere else.”
The University of Oregon has several premier venues available for all types of sports. Beyond the campus, there’s also the 96,000-square-foot, multi-use Bob Keefer Center for Sports and Recreation, one of the largest sport and rec venues in the Northwest. Nearby is the Les Schwab Sports Park with lighted outdoor synthetic turf fields. The newest venue in the region is Civic Park, which has a fieldhouse with four indoor, multi-use courts with hardwood floors, two outdoor courts and lighted FIFA regulation-sized artificial turf field.
Visit Tri-Cities, Washington
The Tri-Cities, along the Columbia River, is just a few hours’ drive from all the major PacNW metropolitan areas, including Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver, Spokane, Boise and Portland, Ore. It also boasts some of the best weather in the Northwest, with a mild climate, low precipitation and 300 days of sunshine a year. Combining this ideal environment with top sports venues means tournaments and events will have an easy time of it.
The Pasco Sporting Complex, for example, offers six lighted softball fields with adjustable fencing. Nearby is a 45-acre soccer complex with 15 full-size fields. The 28-acre Columbia Playfield in Richland has five lighted softball fields. And the 52-acre Southridge Sports Complex in Kennewick has four lighted diamonds (with overlays for soccer and lacrosse), two multi-use sports fields, aquatic playground and much more, including the indoor Numerica Pavilion, which hosts basketball, volleyball, futsal and more.
“In addition to being an ideal tournament site, the community cooperation is second to none,” says Hector Cruz, vice president of Visit Tri-Cities. “Visit Tri-Cities along with its Sports Council will provide assistance and resources to help promote and support events from beginning to end.” SDM