It’s possible to talk forever about records broken, good sportsmanship and happy spectators, but the truth is this: great sports events are built from the ground up. You need a good venue to host a good event. And to host a great event, start with a great facility.
A regulation-size, well-appointed and well-maintained facility keeps athletes safe and allows them to concentrate on the job at hand: winning. It also allows for great sightlines, easy access and a great appearance. In other words, it’s a pleasure to compete on, coach on or just watch and cheer.
Those seeking some outstanding facilities can take heart: SDM has created a shortlist for you, showcasing some of the best venues around the country. Whether your sport is inside, outside, on the water, on the field, on the diamond or anywhere else, we have some great places to start.
DCU Center: Worcester, Massachusetts
The SMG-Managed DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts, the heart of central New England, is comprised of a recently renovated 13,840-seat arena and attached state-of-the-art convention center. Combined, the venue boasts over 100,000 square feet of exhibition, event and unique meeting space and offers premium in-house catering services by SAVOR Catering by SMG.
The DCU Center has a long history in being the top attraction in central New England as well as an important place in the live entertainment and touring music industry. The city-owned arena opened on September 2, 1982. Over the last three decades, the DCU Center has helped debut many successful careers, kicked off many major concert tours for a variety of national recording artists and hosted some of the most exciting national and international sporting events on record. The DCU Center holds many celebrated moments by fans and artists alike.
For more information, go to www.dcucenter.com. The center also has an active social media presence on Facebook (Facebook.com/smg.dcucenter), Twitter (@DCUCenter ) and Instagram (@DCUCenter).
Lake Erie Shores & Islands: Sandusky, Ohio
At Ohio’s Lake Erie Shores & Islands you can experience professional assistance and natural event venues along with by miles of beautiful shoreline and activities one can only find at the water’s edge! The premier natural venue located in this freshwater destination is Lake Erie.
A top annual sporting event, Revolution 3 Triathlon Cedar Point, features Lake Erie for the swim portion of the race, which is a great kick-off to the event. An optimal body of water is essential for a triathlon; Lake Erie provides that for all four Rev3 races. Perfect racing conditions paired with a family-friendly destination is a winning combination for Rev3.
Multiple fishing tournaments are hosted each year, bringing in competitors from around the globe. Bassmasters Series, Fishers of Men National Tournament Trails, Crappie USA and Ohio Bass Federation Nation are just a few that take advantage of the abundance of fish and prime fishing conditions that Lake Erie provides.
Lake Erie and the Sandusky Bay provide an ideal location for canoe and kayak paddlers as well as several sailing regattas. US Interlake and US Thistle Regattas were held in the summer and brought hundreds of sailors to the Lake Erie Shores & Islands. To learn more, go to www.shoresandislands.com.
Pinnacle Bank Arena: Lincoln, Nebraska
Located prominently in Lincoln’s Historic Haymarket entertainment district is the newly opened Pinnacle Bank Arena. This publically owned facility is the centerpiece of a $344 million downtown redevelopment project which includes new retail, restaurants, commercial enterprise and residential living. With its combination of concrete and metal panel facade, spectacular open-air roof deck, contemporary glass-encased entrance and concourse offering picturesque views of the State Capitol, Pinnacle Bank Arena is an architectural embodiment of aesthetics and modernity.
The arena features 16,000 seats with approximately 470,000 square feet of event space. Although its primary tenant is the University of Nebraska-Lincoln men’s and women’s basketball programs, the arena is open to use for sporting events, concerts and meetings.
Directly adjacent to Pinnacle Bank Arena is the Railyard Entertainment District. This area includes a large courtyard surrounded on three sides with restaurants and bars where customers can carry beer and drinks from one establishment to the next. The focal point of The Railyard is ‘The Cube.’ This screen, that wraps around one corner of the space, is approximately 14 by 40 feet on one side and 14 by 14 feet on the other. It is the largest screen of its kind in the Midwest.
To learn more about Lincoln, Nebraska, visit www.lincoln.org
Oklahoma City Community College Aquatics Center: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Originally built as the outdoor venue for all aquatic competitions during the 1989 US Olympic Festival in Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC) Aquatics Center is OKC’s premier swimming and diving complex. Now an indoor venue, the OCCC Aquatics Center features an eight-lane, 50-meter swimming pool as well as a separate diving well equipped with two one-meter springboards, two three-meter springboards and platforms at five, seven and 10 meters.
With room for 1,000 spectators in the upstairs bleachers and 500 athletes poolside, the facility can accommodate a variety of championship-caliber events. A four-foot wide movable bulkhead provides the flexibility to create a 25-yard short course swim event or a 50-meter long course event. With a dedicated recreation and fitness staff, the OCCC Aquatics Center has become the Mecca of swimming and diving championships for the National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), the Mountain West Conference of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and many other state, regional and national competitions. The Annual NAIA National Swimming & Diving Championships brought more than 1,000 athletes, coaches and supports to Oklahoma City in 2013.
For more information, visit www.visitokc.com.
Scheels USA Youth Soccer Complex: Appleton, Wisconsin
The Scheels USA Youth Soccer Complex is considered one of the finest youth sports facilities in the state of Wisconsin, regularly hosting state, regional and national championship games. The complex has 15 full-size soccer fields, concession stand and restroom facilities. The operations rely heavily on volunteers, as soccer fields are maintained by the Appleton Soccer Club.
Three areas of parking make for short walks to each of the fields. The complex is no stranger to tournaments - the Appleton Soccer Club hosts three competitive competitions and one recreational tournament each year. It has the ability to host local, state, regional and national competition and offers a variety of playing surfaces. Scheels was the host of the 2006 and 2011, US Youth Soccer Midwest Region Championships and will host that event again in 2015. It also hosted the 2009 Babe Ruth 14-year-old World Series.
Scheels was recently featured as one of the 10 top soccer facilities in the US by InSite on Sports Events.
Amenities include 15 premier soccer fields, two lighted full-size baseball fields, two lighted Little League fields, bleachers with spectator seating, electronic scoreboard, meeting room, press box, public address system and a registration area.
For more information, visit http://appleton.cornerkicksystems.com/
Milwaukee’s reputation as an attractive, affordable, sports-friendly city continues to grow. The city’s downtown convention center complex, consisting of the Wisconsin Center, US Cellular Arena and Milwaukee Theatre, is sought after by both professional and amateur sports competitions.
With 189,000 square feet of space and a 37,506 square-foot ballroom, the Wisconsin Center is ideally suited for a wide range of configurations for sporting events. The center has played host to US Fencing, US Table Tennis, USA Volleyball and numerous gymnastics events. Skywalks to the Hilton Milwaukee City Center and Hyatt Regency Milwaukee hotels link some 1,200 rooms to the Wisconsin Center.
The adjacent US Cellular Arena, Milwaukee’s 12,700-seat sports arena, is home to the Milwaukee Wave professional indoor soccer team and has also been host to national gymnastics, basketball and hockey tournaments. And while a theater isn’t always top of mind for a sporting event, the distinctive 5,000-seat Milwaukee Theatre completes the package as an impressive venue for opening and closing ceremonies.
Within easy walking distance of hotels, shopping, dining, nightlife, festivals and attractions, the Wisconsin Center complex connects events to Milwaukee's flourishing downtown and will send sports enthusiasts home with great memories of a great sports town.
For more information, visit www.wcd.org