With stunning scenery and plenty of connectivity, the Southwest and Pacific area region is home to sports of all disciplines, with facilities ranging from rough mountain bike trails to state-of-the-art fieldhouses, and from rodeo grounds to tennis centers. Following are some highlights of destinations ready and willing to host events, no matter where they play out.
Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center, Oregon
Deschutes Fair and Expo Center is a 460-acre site that includes the First Interstate Bank Center featuring 40,000 square feet of arena floor and seating for 4,000. The space can be easily transformed for wrestling tournaments, an NBA regulation basketball court, boxing, mixed martial arts, gymnastics and motorsports.
Deschutes Fair has been home to the USA Bouldering Nationals as well as a variety of arenacross, monster truck, USA BMX racing competitions and rodeo, equestrian and livestock events. The facility has barns and an off-road racetrack for outdoor motor sports as well as a full-service RV park. And even though it’s in the Pacific Northwest, it has good weather for sporting events year-round.
“We’re really the playground of the northwest,” said Roxia Thornton Todoroff, director of sales and marketing for Deschutes Fair & Expo Center. “We enjoy over 300 days of high desert sunshine. We are an outdoor four-season recreation paradise for cycling, golf, snow sports, rock climbing and more.”
Midland, in the western part of the state, offers up a variety of venues for indoor and outdoor sports. There is Grande Stadium for football, COM Aquatics for swimming events, the Bush Tennis Center, the Freddie Ezell Softball Complex and the Security Bank Ball Park for baseball. Two academic institutions, Midland College (a member of the Western Junior College Athletic Conference) and Lee High, also have athletic facilities and a rich history.
“We’re home to three back-to-back state championships for high school football at Lee High, and soccer, softball and volleyball are growing,” said Ed Mayberry, director of sales for Visit Midland.
For the after hours, there is the Museum of the Southwest, President George W. Bush’s childhood home, Susie’s South Forty Confections, the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum, and a variety of restaurants, bars and shopping downtown.
Redding refers to itself as having “small-town charm and world-class locations.” Located in central Northern California, Redding sees 300 days of sunshine per year, making it ideal for outdoor recreation. Shasta Lake, the “unofficial capital of kayaking,” is nearby, and the Sacramento River is one of the best trout rivers in the country. Cycling and running events are held on 225 miles of trails.
“We’re known for outdoor adventure and epic beauty with equal challenge,” said Sabrina Jurisich, sports commissioner for the Redding CVB.
In the inventory of facilities is the California Soccer Park and the Big League Dreams Sports Complex with nine combined lighted and all-weather synthetic turf fields. Big League Dreams also has a 20,000-square-foot indoor field house appropriate for soccer, hockey or basketball. The Redding Rodeo Grounds hosts equine events, and the Redding Aquatic Center features an Olympic-sized pool.
The area has after-hours options galore and has already hosted the USA Softball Western Nationals event, BASSMaster and Wild West Bass Trail Tournaments and an annual Boston Marathon qualifying event.
Santa Clarita, California
Santa Clarita hosts everything from small swim meets and hockey tournaments to large events such as the Spartan Race and Amgen Tour of California, which attract thousands of visitors.
For facilities, the region features the City of Santa Clarita Central Park for soccer, flag football, disc golf, softball and baseball; the Santa Clarita Aquatic Center, which hosts the Speedo Sectionals as well as high school and club meets; and Ice Station Valencia, home to hockey, curling and figure skating events. There are trails for cross-country races and nearby Castaic Lake for obstacle races, fishing tournaments, triathlons, cross country and track meets. The Santa Clarita Sports Complex hosts basketball, pickleball and the Triumph Wheelchair Fest, and the Santa Clarita Skatepark is home to skate and BMX competitions.
“Santa Clarita is known for great year-round weather that comes with being located in Southern California,” said Marilyn Sourgose, administrative analyst for tourism with the City of Santa Clarita Economic Development.
Snohomish County, Washington
Located in northwest Washington, between the Salish Sea and the snow-capped peaks of the Cascade Mountains, is Snohomish County, only 15 miles north of Seattle.
Lake Tye Park in Monroe hosts an array of sporting events. The park’s 42-acre lake has hosted the TriMonroe Triathlon, a USA Triathlon Youth & Junior Elite National Qualifier, since 2011. The lake has also been home to the MasterCraft Pro Wakeboard Tour and the Nautique WWA Wakeboard National Championships.
Indoors, there is the Walt Price Fitness Center at Everett Community College, a 2,220-seat gym; the Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, home to the Western Hockey League Everett Silvertips Hockey team; and Stocker Fields in Snohomish, home to the Snohomish Youth Soccer Club. There is also Meadowdale Playfields in Lynnwood, which has two all-turf synthetic multi-purpose fields and three all-turf synthetic infield softball/baseball fields.
“For the after-hours, there is the Arena Sports Entertainment Mill Creek, the Boeing Future of Flight, and Funko Headquarters,” said Tammy Dunn, sports development director of the Snohomish County Sports Commission.
South Padre Island, Texas
South Padre Island is a Mecca for outdoor beach and running events as well as cycling and fishing. The region’s beaches host beckon to open water and sand sports, including lifeguard and surfing competitions. The area has also hosted obstacle races and half marathons and a popular new Pro Watercross Series, and additionally is home to the Texas International Fishing Tournament.
“We’re an internationally known fishing destination, and we host a wide variety of dance and cheer competitions throughout the year,” said Ed Caum, CVB Director for SPI. “We also have a premier polo facility that hosts international and national competitions year-round.”
For indoor sports, South Padre Island has a 45,000-square-foot exhibit hall that can hold two basketball, four volleyball and eight pickleball courts. Recent renovations to sound and Internet connectivity will allow for esports competitions. Additionally, permitting is underway to create a wind sports park adjacent to the convention center for windsurfing, kite boarding, kite jumping, kite buggy, land sailing, sailing, SUP and kayak racing.
“Tulsa is known for what we call our core sports: wrestling, cycling (BMX), volleyball and soccer,” said Mark Hargis of the Tulsa Sports Commission.
Tulsa has hosted the NCAA Basketball first and second rounds and the Big 12 Wrestling Championships. It has also hosted the USA Wrestling Junior National Duals, the Golden Gloves Nationals Tournament of Champions, the USA BMX Grand Nationals and the US Youth Soccer National Championships.
Facilities available in Tulsa include the 19,000-seat BOK Center, the 102,600 square-foot Cox Business Center, the 354,000-square-foot River Spirit Expo Center and the Mohawk Sports Complex, which features 17 grass fields.
“Affordable” and “San Francisco Bay area” aren’t words often used together, but Vallejo is an exception, offering lodging rates significantly lower than neighboring San Francisco and Napa Valley. The region is home to a variety of high-profile sporting events, including the Vallejo/San Francisco International Yacht Race and the NASCAR Toyota/Save Mart 350 at the Sonoma Raceway.
For facilities, there is the Mare Island Sports Complex, a full-service sports complex with two indoor soccer fields, three basketball courts, up to four volleyball courts and four batting cages, as well as the Vallejo Aquatic Club, which holds USA Swimming-sponsored events.
Vallejo’s proximity to San Pablo Bay, Carquinez Strait and Mare Island Strait means it’s ideal for a wide variety of maritime activities, including boating and rowing. Nearby is also the San Francisco Bay Trail with trails in asphalt, boardwalk, concrete, crushed stone, dirt and gravel for all manner of trail sports. There are a wide variety of university facilities nearby for youth and amateur events, including the recently refurbished Herbert Bodnar Field at California State University.
“Whatever the skill level, athletes of all ages know they can count on top-level venues ideally suited for youth, amateur or professional events and competitions, inside and out,” said Carrie Baulwin, director of sales for Visit Vallejo. SDM
Surprise, Arizona: A Sports Hotbed
Surprise, Arizona, is a sports hotbed, offering an abundance of sunshine, gorgeous mountain views, pristine sporting facilities and all the amenities of the Phoenix Metro region.
Surprise offers 15 Major League Baseball fields (it’s home to Spring Training), 25 championship tennis courts and 16 pickleball courts. College sports play here, too, including NCAA Division I and II events.
Surprise is also the home of Ottawa University, Arizona, and a partnership with the city has increased the facilities available to tournament directors. Tournaments can be held at the new football/lacrosse stadium (turf), as well as at any of the three new indoor basketball/volleyball courts with locker rooms. Surprise continues to work with the university and other key partners to develop its sporting complex.
In 2019 alone, Surprise hosted events with partners including the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, MLB, NCAA, Prep Baseball Report, Perfect Game Baseball, USA Baseball, United States Tennis Association, Wilson Premier Baseball and others. Find your Surprise in Arizona.