Basketball always has been a popular sport in this country, especially for youngsters. The latest participation data by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association indicate that more than 27.1 million Americans trod the boards each year, which is an 8.9 percent increase from two years earlier.
While venues can be found throughout the U.S., here are some communities that offer top facilities to accommodate any type of basketball tournament or event.
“We Crown Champions,” says Mike Wilson, executive director of the Arlington Sports Commission, echoing the phrase that the commission promotes. The city is the proud home of championship pro teams, and also of excellent facilities that lead to champions, including for basketball.
“Arlington is an emerging hotbed of amateur basketball action, but don’t let that fool you into thinking we don’t know basketball,” Wilson continues.
“We’ve played host to high-level basketball for years. From the NCAA Men’s Final Four, the NBA All-Star Game and the National Invitational Tournament, we know great basketball.” Coming in April will be the Heart of Texas Showcase, which will attract about 500 youth basketball teams.
Among the top-notch venues available for tournaments and events are the 7,000-seat College Park Center on the University of Texas at Arlington campus, with a 12,000-square-foot arena floor and total area of 218,000 square feet, and the Esports Stadium & Expo Center, with 78,000 square feet and seating for 5,000. Opening in 2024 will be the massive Loews Arlington Convention Center, with 250,000 square feet of space.
The CVB/Sports Commission can help event organizers and owners with special event planning, transportation coordination, finding volunteers for events, housing assistance, marketing and public relations and more.
Key facilities for basketball in the Chicago Southland area include the 116,000-square-foot Wintrust Sports Complex in Bedford Park, with eight hardwood high school basketball courts and a championship court. The complex, which offers free parking, is just a few miles from Midway Airport, making it convenient for athletes and families. It also offers meeting and event spaces, a bar/lounge with full kitchen service and amenities young athletes will find appealing, including laser tag, an esports gaming room and an arcade.
The Southland Center Ho-Chunk Nation in Lynwood has four courts available from November to March and 10 courts (eight high school, two college) from April to October, with seating for 900, concessions and a sports bar/restaurant.
Mokena Community Park District has three varsity courts (or seven smaller courts) and seating for 600; the MegaPlex Sports Center in Homer Glen offers three regulation and one smaller court, seating for up to 800 and a restaurant/bar; the Matteson Community Center has four youth and two adult-size courts; and the Roma Sports Club in Frankfort offers two courts and lounge area with concessions (and TV monitors to watch play and practice).
The Chicago Southland CVB assists event planners in a number of ways, and for families and athletes coming to the area, “We have our own app that allows visitors to not only plan their visit, but find amenities close by,” says the CVB’s Andy Ritter.
“Lincoln’s basketball presence has increased dramatically in the last decade,” says Derek Bombeck of the Lincoln CVB. “With the additions of Pinnacle Bank Arena and now the Kinetic Sports Complex and Speedway Village, we can host high-end youth competitions or professional and NCAA level events.”
Pinnacle Bank Arena seats 16,000 fans, and both the Kinetic Sports Complex and Speedway Village each offer eight basketball courts with portable bleachers throughout. In addition, the Bob Devaney Sports Center offers an 8,000-seat arena.
NBA preseason basketball comes to Lincoln, as do the Harlem Globetrotters. Among youth events, both the annual Recruit Look Hoops and the Mid-America Home School Hoops Classic each attract more than 100 teams. Lincoln also has played host to NSAA Boys & Girls Basketball Championships along with many Supreme Court Basketball Club events, which often attract more than 100 teams per event.
The Lincoln CVB can provide assistance in many ways, such as welcome bags, registration assistance, customized welcome banners, facility discounts, marketing and promotion. Off the court, there’s plenty for visitors to do, including Historic Haymarket/Railyard, great restaurants and shops and the historic Lincoln Robber’s Cave. There’s also the Museum of American Speed, one of the largest and rarest collections of race-car memorabilia.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
“Youth basketball is one of the main sports tourism drivers for Myrtle Beach,” says Jonathan Paris, the executive director of sports tourism for the Myrtle Beach Regional Sports Alliance. “Each year we host several events with the National Travel Basketball Association (NTBA) including their girls’ and boys’ championships. Those two events alone bring in over 500 teams.” Additional NTBA events bring in another 250 teams. Myrtle Beach also partners with Big Shots to host several NCAA Certified events bringing in an additional 300 teams.
The main indoor facility for youth events is the 100,000-square-foot John T. Rhodes Myrtle Beach Sports Center, which opened in 2015 and can accommodate up to eight basketball courts on a wood floor. The facility has flexible seating for up to 2,500 and offers several meeting rooms. Other facilities include the J. Bryan Floyd Community Center in North Myrtle Beach with two courts and various high school and recreation center gyms. For the past 42 years, Myrtle Beach has hosted the Beach Ball Classic, one of the premier high school holiday tournaments, which is played on a wood floor at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.
Coastal Carolina University’s HTC Center can seat 3,400 fans and has six locker rooms and video boards. Visit Myrtle Beach partners with ESPN Events on the annual NCAA men’s Division I Myrtle Beach Invitational, held the week before Thanksgiving at the HTC Center.
“What makes Myrtle Beach such a great sports tourism location is the wide array of options for families and participants to do while in town for their events,” Paris notes.
Placer Valley, California
Placer Valley has a number of impressive basketball venues, including the $34 million Roebbelen Center on a private campus-like setting in the heart of Roseville. The 160,000-square-foot facility can accommodate 12 basketball courts (hardwood maple floors) and features a state-of-the-art air filtration system. There are concessions, bleachers for every court, officials’ locker room, tournament organizer office, flexible meeting space and a service-oriented staff.
The 55,000-square-foot Hardwood Palace in Rocklin has eight basketball courts, concessions, flexible bleacher seating, free parking and more. And the Courtside Basketball Center, also in Rocklin, offers five hardwood basketball courts, bleachers, free parking and more. Other basketball venues include the Sierra College Gym, Warrior Arena at William Jessup University and 11 area high schools, each with two gyms.
“Tournaments we hosted in 2022 are excited to have the opportunity to return in 2023,” says Donna Dotti of Placer Valley Tourism. “Adding to this will be a new NCAA certified scholastic girl’s tournament, California Sweet 16, which in its first year is expected to attract over 150 teams.”
Comprised of three cities — Roseville, Rocklin and Lincoln — Placer Valley sits at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, 25 miles east of the Sacramento International Airport. For athletes and families, the area has a ton to do off the court, too.
For basketball tournaments and events, the Plano Sports Authority (PSA) has four main indoor venues, all multi-use for all ages, and flexibility to accommodate unique events.
PSA1 Preston Meadow is a 143,000-square-foot, bi-level complex with 14 multi-purpose hardwood courts (10 at 74 feet and four at 84 feet), with bleacher seating at each court, a 200-seat overlook, and food court and dining area. PSA2 Seabrook is 95,000 square feet with eight 84-foot multi-purpose hardwood courts with bleacher seating and food court. There’s also the PSA Murphy and PSA McKinney sports complexes, both at 85,000 square feet overall with six 84-foot hardwood courts and foot court areas.
The city has played host to some large events in the past, including four-day national tournaments last year for PrimeTime and Premier Basketball, which each utilize three different facilities and bring in about 300 teams, 3,000 players and around 10,000 spectators. Both events are on the calendar again for 2023 and are expected to top last year’s numbers.
Off the court, there’s plenty to do in the area, including Legacy West with its dining, shopping and entertainment; the interactive, family destination Crayola Experience; Pinstack, a state-of-the art bowling and entertainment/fun zone destination; Go Ape Zipline & Adventure Park; Southfork Ranch from the “Dallas” TV series; the Downtown Plano Arts District and much more.
“When it comes to hosting sports groups, think of Visit Plano as a one-stop shop,” says Visit Plano Sports Sales Manager Alysha Carse. “We can assist event owners with hotel and venue selection, volunteer coordination, PR assistance and more.”
South Shore, Indiana
The Hoosier State has a storied history in basketball, and Lake Michigan’s South Shore area continues that tradition with excellent venues that bring in top events. The Hammond Sportsplex, which opened in 2019, features six basketball courts, each with a scoreboard and bleacher seating, along with a large community room, concessions and a bar/lounge. The complex hosted the 2022 Reebok World Championships, a four-day event with 100 girls’ and boys’ teams, which will return in 2023.
The John Friend Court at Purdue University Northwest has three hardwood basketball courts, a training room, concessions, locker rooms, bleachers and more. There’s also the 4,500-seat Hammond Civic Center, which also has an indoor swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna, locker rooms and weight training center. The facility hosted the 2021 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference men’s and women’s tournaments. Plus, there are a number of other facilities in the area, including the Dean & Barbara White Community Center in Merrillville, the Lincoln Center Fieldhouse in Highland and at Valparaiso University.
“Our services include site inspections, housing services, organizing special events, coordinating and designing marketing campaigns and securing volunteers and sponsors,” says Megan Goodan of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority. “Also, we partner with over 200 businesses to provide event attendees with discounts to local attractions, restaurants and other local businesses.”
“Springfield is a hotbed for basketball,” says Springfield Sports Commission Executive Director Lance Kettering. “Whether it is a State Championship, National Championship or NCAA or NAIA collegiate event, this community supports it like no other.”
Among major events, the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions, hosted by the Springfield Public School District, is the highest-attended high school basketball tourney in the country. “It’s in its 38th year and has showcased more than 370 NCAA Division I players and over 60 future NBA Stars,” Kettering notes.
The newest facility in Springfield is the Betty & Bobby Allison SportsTown, with four basketball courts, which opened this past November. Other key venues are The Fieldhouse Sportscenter, with four full-size basketball courts (which also can be configured for youth events) along with full-service concessions; the Strafford Sports Center has four full-size basketball courts, concessions, a Kids’ Zone, courtside seating and more; 417 Athletics in Mount Vernon has four basketball courts, a large concession area, officials’ lounge, meeting space and a mezzanine down the middle of the facility with seating to view all the courts; and The Courts sports complex in Springfield offers three courts.
Springfield also is home to many other venues that offer arenas for basketball events, including the 11,000-seat Great Southern Bank Arena and the 8,856-seat Hammons Student Center, both at Missouri State University. SDM