Perfect Landings for Gymnastics Events
1 Sep, 2020By: Judy Leand
Highly competitive and entertaining, and with a unique blend of athleticism, strength and grace, gymnastics draws legions of participants and fans. Although participation in the sport has had its ups and downs over the past few years, national interest in gymnastics is high and is estimated to keep increasing; in 2018, about 6.8 million Americans were very interested in gymnastics, according to Statista.
Of course, the Summer Olympic Games can always be counted on to refuel excitement and inspire gymnasts at all levels, and following tradition, the appeal of the sport is expected to spike in the lead-up to the Tokyo Summer Games.
In response, many cities are focusing a spotlight on their state-of-the-art venues and are working hard to attract a greater number and variety of gymnastics competitions than ever before. Here are seven destinations that are ready to help event planners put on gymnastics meets that are anything but routine.
Located on 460 acres in the Central Oregon city of Redmond, the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center is a magnet for sports of all types. Gymnastics competitions are held in the Deschutes Fair & Expo Center’s First Interstate Bank Event Center, a 270,000-square-foot multi-purpose indoor arena that provides more than 4,000 fixed seats and concert seating for up to 10,000.
It surpasses 40,000 square feet of concrete floor space and more than 28,250 square feet of space on a circular concourse. Other features include full broadcast capability, four full locker rooms, an attached warm-up area, permanent ticket booths, and dual large concessions stands. Adding to visitor convenience, the facility is located adjacent to the Redmond Municipal Airport.
“We have in the past held the Oregon State Youth Gymnastic Championships and we look forward to working with others to expand the sport in Central Oregon,” says Roxia Thornton Todoroff, Director of Sales for the Deschutes Fair and Expo Center. “Spring is our key season [for gymnastics], with the State Championships held in March. The event attracts 1,600 spectators and participants and has an economic impact of about $270,000.” She adds that the destination is currently working with many sports promoters and rights holders, and “welcomes the opportunity to share what we have to offer with a variety of sporting events.”
Always ready to bend over backwards to accommodate gymnastics events, this destination features several world-class gymnastics programs and facilities. World Olympic Gymnastics Academy (WOGA) and Kurt Thomas have each produced multiple collegiate and Olympic gymnasts and Eagle Gymnastics has a strong tumbling and trampoline program within its own facility.
“Frisco is lucky to host a variety of events each year, including the WOGA Classic, which brings together all levels of competition. Originally hosted in the Frisco Conference Center, the event has grown and now takes place in Ford Center, the indoor training facility for NFL’s Dallas Cowboys,” says Josh Dill, Visit Frisco’s Director of Sports & Events. “The event is huge and has grown to feature artistic, rhythmic and acrobatic gymnastics, as well as tumbling and trampoline. There are youth competitors of all ages and skill levels, and an international competition that draws a lot of spectators.”
The Ford Center is a 510,000-square-foot, 12,000-seat indoor multi-use facility that is part of The Star, the 91-acre campus and headquarters of the Dallas Cowboys. “It’s a phenomenal facility for gymnastics because it allows for elevated spectator seating, keeping the floor secure for athletes and allowing parents a clear line of sight for all apparatuses,” says Dill. The center also provides additional breakout space for award ceremonies.
Frisco typically hosts around 5,000 gymnastics athletes, coaches and staff annually, with those events contributing an estimated economic impact of more than $2 million, Dill reports. The WOGA Classic last year alone brought in more than 11,000 spectators. He notes that Texas is a very strong gymnastics destination, and the city is always on the lookout to host new gymnastics events.
This West Texas locale, known as the “Hub City,” attracts athletic event participants throughout the region and offers multiple premier gymnastics facilities. Chief among these are the 300,000-square-foot Lubbock Memorial Civic Center, the 15,000-seat United Supermarkets Arena, Lubbock Christian University’s Rip Griffin Center, and Rock Solid Gymnastics with 43,000 square feet of space. Each venue is capable of hosting adult and youth USA Gymnastics events for men and women, as well as state high school competitions, and all include locker rooms, access to training and medical rooms, and concessions.
“As the official liaison of sporting events in Lubbock, Lubbock Sports has traditionally scheduled approximately five to 10 gymnastics events per year. As an organization, we have noticed an increase in demand for gymnastics meets and are looking to schedule additional regional and national invitationals,” says Scott Harrison, Lubbock Sports Director. “Our events have hosted more than 500 athletes and drawn in over 3,000 spectators. We are pleased to say that overall, Lubbock sporting events have contributed nearly $1 million into our local economy.”
Harrison proudly points out that Lubbock strives to provide all gymnastics competitors with a state-of-the-art experience. “Lubbock gymnasts are investing in the future of the sport in West Texas. Recently, an additional gym opened its doors, making it possible for more youth and high-school level competitions to take place [here]. Lubbock Sports is also continuing to host USA Gymnastics events on an annual basis and is preparing to be a destination for national competitions in the future.”
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
In this city, the 100,000-square-foot Myrtle Beach Sports Center serves as the primary venue for gymnastics events. In addition to expansive floor space, this state-of-the-art facility provides several multi-purpose rooms that can serve as training rooms, operations offices and check-in/registration areas. A concessions stand, indoor and outdoor seating for meals, and an elevated walkway overlooking the competition floor round out the package.
Myrtle Beach hosts four to five gymnastics meets annually, which are held in the winter and spring. “Our meets are typically junior youth meets. We have hosted both USA Gymnastics sanctioned meets run by local clubs which attract gymnasts from the East Coast — from New York down to Florida — as well as USA Gymnastics Xcel regional meets,” says Jonathan Paris, Executive Director of Sports Tourism, Visit Myrtle Beach. The average stay in the area is two to three days, allowing participants to explore Myrtle Beach’s many attractions.
“We continue to work from a venue and CVB perspective with our local gymnastics clubs to grow these events, and we provide support and encouragement, should they want to bid for and host larger USA Gymnastics events that might come to the community once every few years,” Paris explains. “Those events often require additional work and are sometimes harder for these clubs to run in addition to all that they are doing on a day-to-day basis. But we are here to help with those as needed.”
Placer Valley, California
The $34 million Placer Valley Event Center is at the heart of this destination’s gymnastics competition scene. It measures 160,000 square feet overall and includes more than 108,000 square feet of unobstructed floor space.
Key features include a hardwood floor surface for competition that can be covered with gymnastics mats as required, a trainer room and a tournament organizer’s office, flexible meeting space, food and beverage capabilities, adjustable lighting up to 84 footcandles, large TV monitors throughout the atrium and lobby, LCD wall projection, complimentary Wi-Fi, configurable 14-row telescopic bleachers, a PA system, two changing rooms for officials, portable concessions and 2,400 lighted parking spaces.
Donna Dotti, Director of Sales, Placer Valley Tourism, notes that a minimum of two gymnastics events is hosted annually, and sometimes up to four, primarily in the fall through spring timeframe. Youth events are a particular focus and while ability levels vary, the competitions tend to cater to girls ages five and up.
“We are currently working with Byers Gymnastics to create and host the Rose Gold Classic for Levels 2-10 and Xcel in February 2021,” Dotti says. “Xcel meets are hosted annually, as are Optional competitions.” She adds that Byers Gymnastics Center runs competitive and recreational training programs in three locations, and it focuses on teaching young athletes how to succeed in both sports and life.
Rocky Mount, North Carolina
Lots of exciting gymnastics action takes place at the Rocky Mount Event Center, a 165,000-square-foot multi-use venue located in Downtown Rocky Mount, within walking distance of restaurants, shops and entertainment. The Center’s 75,000-square-foot field house is ideal for meets, and the floor layout can be converted into a 50’ x 94’ master event space and/or three full gymnastics or cheer floors with stadium seating for 4,000 spectators. Also included are four large elite locker rooms, plus a mezzanine on the second floor for observing the competition.
Since opening in October 2018, the venue has hosted about one gymnastic event per year and is eager to add more to the schedule. In April 2019, NC AAU held its largest State Championship meet at the facility, which attracted more than 600 athletes and 2,200 spectators. Earlier this year, Thomas Gymnastics held the Rocky Mount Rumble Gymnastics Challenge that brought in 800 gymnasts and more than 2,500 spectators. “An interesting fact about [the Thomas Gymnastics] meet is that the night before the event, we hosted the world famous Harlem Globetrotters, and in less than 24 hours we were able to transform the facility to accommodate a gymnastics competition,” remarks Ashley Pittman, Marketing Manager, Rocky Mount Event Center.
“We have hosted a State Championship gymnastic meet and another gymnastic meet that included both genders. For the most part, we have had elementary school age through high school athletes participate in the meets that have been here at the Rocky Mount Event Center,” says Pittman. “However, we are absolutely looking forward to the future where we will have events that will include pro competitions and college meets. We are open to all types of great gymnastics events here.”
Regional and national youth gymnastics competitions generate plenty of fervor in this city, and meets are held at the Bank of Springfield (BOS) Center. The facility’s main hall boasts 40,000 square feet of column-free space, with an additional 25,000 square feet of space for awards, meetings and vendors. Other amenities include 4,300 permanent seats, four locker rooms, two concession areas, full catering service, free Wi-Fi in public areas and AV service, as well as two high-level trauma centers within five minutes of the venue.
For added convenience, the BOS Center is connected to The President Abraham Lincoln Springfield, a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel. Directly across the street is the Wyndham Springfield City Centre, and together the two hotels provide nearly 700 rooms. For larger events, the city offers nearly 4,000 hotel rooms within a 15-minute drive. Local dining, shopping and attractions are all within walking distance of the BOS Center.
“In this multi-use facility, there are typically two gymnastics events per year, and Springfield is currently in contact with several gymnastics organizations regarding both regional and national events,” reports Terry Truman, Sports Account Executive, Visit Springfield. “We are looking to attract youth age groups of all abilities up to and including national championship level.” Past events held at the BOS Center have included USTA Tumbling and the USA Gymnastics Lincoln Cup. SDM