Sometimes, we just need a change of scenery. In a new place, under new conditions, event owners and rights holders are often able to put a new spin on their events by connecting with an entirely different group of athletes.
In the following pages, Sports Destination Management has made your selection easy by highlighting destinations on the rise. Some you may already be familiar with and some may be new additions – but all deserve your consideration.
Surprise, Arizona, is a sport-lover’s dream, offering an abundance of sunshine, gorgeous mountain views, pristine sporting facilities and close proximity to a wide variety of amenities as part of the Phoenix Metro region.
Surprise offers 15 Major League Baseball fields, 25 championship tennis courts and 16 pickleball courts. Plus, it’s home to Major League Baseball spring training for the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers. College athletics are also big in Surprise. Located in the heart of the city on the Civic Center campus, Ottawa University Arizona offers a full complement of collegiate athletics programs.
Because of the location, the city and university have been able to collaborate on new facilities to support the needs of tournament directors, as well as the university’s athletic programs and city residents.
These new shared campus facilities will help create opportunities to attract year-round activity. Multi-sport 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 brand new locker room facilities. Surprise continues to work with the university and other key partners to develop the Sporting Complex with tournament needs in mind.
Just this past year, as the Sporting Complex added these essential new facilities, it was proud to host tournaments with new and continuing partners such as the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA), Major League Baseball (MLB), National Colligate Athletic Association (NCAA), Prep Baseball Report (PBR), Perfect Game Baseball, United States Tennis Association (USTA), Wilson Premier Baseball and many others.
Nestled between the mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Camarillo is located just an hour northwest of Los Angeles and 40 minutes southeast of Santa Barbara. With over 300 days of sunshine a year, life in Camarillo is lived al fresco; visitors can enjoy concerts and fine dining in the ocean breeze or golfing and horseback riding in the mountain air.
Over the years, Camarillo has made a name for itself in the youth sport tournament industry as it’s home to numerous sports facilities and tournaments. Bob Kildee Community Park sits on 12.95 acres of land and includes eight youth baseball fields, six tennis courts, an indoor aquatic center and a 12,000-square-foot skate park. There’s also Freedom Park, which sits on more than 33 acres and has five baseball fields, an inline hockey rink, a gym and Freedom Park BMX Raceway.
When the competition is over and the team is looking to celebrate off the field, Camarillo has plenty to offer during any season. Whether it’s exploring the Channel Islands National Park or shopping at the world-class outlet mall, Camarillo is a gem on the California Central Coast. More information is available at VisitCamarillo.com/Sports.
Florida: St. Pete/Clearwater
Located in Florida’s scenic Tampa Bay area, St. Pete/Clearwater is home to world-class beaches and dynamic communities packed with culture and adventure. The most popular destination on the Gulf of Mexico boasts first-rate venues offering unique experiences to all competitors – from weekend tournaments to major international events – with 35 miles of white-sand beaches as a backdrop.
Representing the organization’s recommitment to bringing top-tier events and tournaments to the destination, the department rebranded to St. Pete/Clearwater Sports & Events, expanding the team to better serve partners with varied experiences and expertise. The highly qualified Sports & Events team collectively brings more than 60 years of major sports management and marketing experience, including Olympic Games, FIFA World Cup and State Games.
The continued dedication to partnering with municipalities and governing bodies is represented in the team’s unmatched tenacity to work together with potential events and tournaments. The growth of the destination is evident; from record-breaking tourism numbers and new hotel developments to new and renovated facilities, there’s no better time to be hosting an event in St. Pete/Clearwater.
Florida: Lake City and Columbia County
Located in North Florida, Lake City and Columbia County are home to incredible places to play.
The Southside Sports Complex, featuring 23 baseball and softball diamonds and five full-size soccer fields, is in the final stages of a $3 million renovation that has transformed the park into the crown jewel of North Florida.
The 128-acre complex hosts USSSA baseball and softball events, Perfect Game Youth Baseball and the annual Babe Ruth Softball Florida State Championships. In March, the complex will be hosting the USSSA Baseball Super NIT tournament featuring over 100 teams.
The Southside complex is also home to the Southside Raceway, a world-class remote-control car racing facility. In the summer of 2018, the facility hosted the ROAR Off Road Nationals, featuring 300 racers from around the world.
The Columbia County Sports Commission, in conjunction with the county parks and recreation department, is in the process of researching and developing a new flat field sports complex to further increase sports tourism to the region.
For the adventurous outdoor athlete, crystal-clear springs and rivers, multiple state parks and an abundance of public lands with miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding provide countless recreational opportunities.
Florida: Palm Beach County
The Palm Beaches represents the pinnacle of paradise, where event owners can find a venue for every sport, an abundance of hotels and countless recreational activities and attractions for every budget. It’s easy to play in paradise.
Palm Beach County offers 47 miles of white-sand beaches, over 170 golf courses and driving ranges, two Major League Baseball spring training complexes with 26 MLB regulation diamonds, more than 175 multi-purpose fields, a 30,000-seat football stadium, 1,200 tennis courts, including an 8,000-seat tennis stadium, and more than 45 parks with vast multi-purpose playing fields, as well as 346 acres of world-class polo and equestrian facilities. The average annual temperature is 78 degrees, making The Palm Beaches a prime location for year-round (yes, even winter) tournaments.
With thousands of hotel rooms available and several large shopping districts and local restaurants to enjoy, the Palm Beach County Sports Commission encourages event owners to “Just Bring Your Game” and “Discover The Palm Beaches.” The staff encourages event owners to explore numerous Palm Beach County facilities with the destination’s interactive virtual tours or to get more information on how the Palm Beach County Sports Commission can help make sporting events successful at www.palmbeachsports.com.
Georgia: Cumming-Forsyth County
A great selection of versatile sports facilities, an abundance of experiences to enjoy off the field and host to the nation’s number-one brewery, Cumming-Forsyth County, Georgia, is the premier sports destination to host any event or tournament. The destination is conveniently located 40 minutes north of Atlanta, and players and teams of all ages love to come and play in this backyard. A total of 52 softball/baseball fields, 24 multi-purpose turf fields, 36 tennis courts, an aquatic center, fairgrounds and Lake Lanier provide amazing year-round tournament options. No matter the venue needed to produce the perfect tournament, Cumming-Forsyth County has it.
Over 4,000 hotel rooms serve the region and award-winning accommodations and restaurants offer fantastic options to teams off the field. Athletes can extend their stay to explore Glamping on Lake Lanier, hike up to the picturesque Indian Seats atop Sawnee Mountain or enjoy a tasty pint from the best brewery in the nation. They may even see a film crew or two since this is the home of several major film and TV productions.
Event owners will find this destination a one-stop shop for all their tournament needs and can quickly discover why many tournaments owners flock to Cumming-Forsyth County, Georgia. Visit cummingforsythchamber.org/sports.
Since 2015, the Aurora Area has been THE destination for many baseball, lacrosse, soccer, softball and Ultimate tournaments.
Recent tournaments held in the area include the PepsiCo Showdown Soccer Series (100 games and more than 1,500 players), United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) Fastpitch Girls 18U & 14U National Championships (60 teams), Neuqua Valley Knockout (largest high-school Ultimate event in the country, with 100 teams), Great Lakes Ultimate Events BICI Tournament (67 Teams), Aurora Kickers Puma Illinois College Showcase (127 Teams), USA Ultimate Masters Championship (75 Teams), Heavyweights Without Limits Ultimate Tournament (66 Teams), True Wisconsin Lacrosse, Windy City LAX Bash (100 Teams), US LAX Summer Shootout (110 Teams), Evolution Soccer Chicago Development Showcase (150 teams), Alianza de Futbol (120 Teams), Galaxy Soccer – Great Lakes Soccer Challenge (235 Teams), Professional Bowlers Association, Great Midwest Athletic Conference/Great Lakes Valley Conference Mizuno Volleyball Tourney, NCAA Division I Men’s & Women’s Golf Championships, National Latino Amateur Boxing Association National Championships and the Clasico Leyendas All-Star Soccer.
In 2019, Aurora will be host to the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) Midwest Cup (72 Teams) as well as several other new sports events that include cross country, flag football, table tennis and kickball.
Illinois: Chicago Northwest
Meet Chicago Northwest is ready to give event owners an advantEdge. The destination is four hours from anywhere in the continental U.S., on the edge of O’Hare International Airport and minutes from Chicago.
Chicago Northwest is a full-service destination marketing organization providing event planning ideas to make any sporting event, meeting, conference, or convention successful, productive and easy. Its services are completely free.
Over 60 hotels with 10,000-plus guest rooms offer a range to fit every sporting event’s budget. The destination also flexes its muscles with hundreds of family restaurants from local favorites to top Chicago names.
Downtime during sporting events allows visitors to browse the many shopping outlets from Woodfield Mall to IKEA. It’s also possible to entertain the group after hours with GameWorks, Topgolf, Medieval Times, LEGOLAND Discovery Center, Boomers Baseball, Laugh Out Loud, PAC-MAN Entertainment or Punch Bowl Social. Plus, parking is free in Chicago Northwest.
Facilities include the spectacular Schaumburg Convention Center with 100,000 square feet of column-free space and attached Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel, Olympic Park (baseball and soccer fields), Busse Woods Forest Preserve (land and water sports), Harper College, Odeum Expo Center, Play ‘N’ Thrive (multitude of sports) and Arlington Heights (water and field sports).
chicagonorthwest.com/sports-manager showcases all the area’s facilities.
Missouri: Maryland Heights
Maryland Heights is St. Louis’ backyard, centrally located along I-270 and I-70 and just 10 minutes from St. Louis Lambert International Airport. With almost 4,000 hotel rooms, event planners can find something to meet their team’s needs.
Facilities include Creve Coeur Park & Lake that offers a six-mile path around the 320-acre lake that is perfect for hosting marathons, triathlons and more. Maryland Heights is also home to three state-of-the art multi-purpose outdoor athletic facilities with a total of 38 full-size lighted fields (27 turf and 11 grass) perfect for soccer, lacrosse and field hockey. Opening in fall of 2019 is the St. Louis Community Ice Center, a premier indoor ice complex that will feature four rinks for all ice sports.
Over 75 restaurants located in Maryland Heights offer dining options for the entire team, allowing everyone to eat, drink, play and watch sports. Dave & Buster’s is 55,000 square feet of indoor games that are fun for all ages and happy to accommodate any team. Athletes can tee off at Crystal Springs Quarry Golf Course, cool off after the game at AquaPort Waterpark or swing from the trees at GO Ape Treetop Adventure Course. More information is available at visitmarylandheights.org.
Explore Warrensburg, Missouri, the home of the University of Central Missouri. With its active art and culture scene, lively events and activities and Midwest hospitality, Warrensburg feels like coming home. Unique shopping experiences, award-winning lodging establishments and restaurants await visitors.
Athletes and their families can find a variety of accommodations in the ‘Burg. Knob Noster State Park, located eight miles from Warrensburg, offers canoeing, hiking, fishing and more. Teams can try spending an hour or less in Warrensburg’s latest attraction – Escape the Burg – or visit Retrograde Toy and Videogame Museum for arcade games. From local favorites including BBQ, farm to table or ice cream shops to well-known chain restaurants, satisfying everyone’s cravings is easy in the ‘Burg.
Utilizing sport facilities in Warrensburg is easy with a variety of options offered by the University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg Parks and Recreation, Youth Excited About Sports and the Warrensburg R-VI School District facilities.
Warrensburg is conveniently located 20 miles south of Interstate 70 and directly off US Highway 50, a route that runs coast to coast, with Missouri Highway 13 running through the middle. All facilities are within 10 minutes travel time of each other, lodging and other amenities.
Event owners can learn more at VisitWarrensburg.com.
North Dakota: Bismarck Mandan
Bismarck Mandan is where the city meets the great outdoors. Where an endless sky arches over two cities along the banks of the Missouri River in central North Dakota. No boundaries means the best of both worlds – all the metropolitan amenities needed for a sports event, along with wide-open spaces and a friendly hometown atmosphere. Bismarck-Mandan has everything event owners need:
• Named one of the country’s top 50 sports towns by Sports Illustrated
• A multi-use sports and event center with 200,000 total square feet. Perfect for hockey, basketball, rodeo, volleyball, wrestling, gymnastics – almost any sport
• Three aquatic complexes
• 57 baseball/softball fields within 15 minutes of each other
• 25 basketball courts, 40 soccer fields, 38 tennis courts
• Ice rinks for hockey, figure skating and curling
• Community Bowl for football, soccer and track & field events
• Seven golf courses, 3,500 acres of parks and 100 miles of walking trails
Sports are the staff’s top priority. This area also offers something not always found in larger cities: personalized service. In Bismarck-Mandan, no tournament is “just another sports event.” They are the staff’s top priority and the professionals will help with everything from choosing the perfect venue to travel and lodging arrangements and all the details that will make events both successful and memorable.
New Jersey: Atlantic City
Atlantic City is a hidden gem along the New Jersey shoreline, offering visitors much more than a seaside destination. As Atlantic City has gone through numerous transitions, the destination is in the midst of the dawn of a new era, drawing from its rich history to meet the demands of the future.
The sports business in Atlantic City continues to grow, whether it’s a convention or sporting event. The TEAMS Conference & Expo, along with events such as Ironman, NXL Paintball, Red Bull Global Rallycross and many more have put Atlantic City in the forefront of the industry.
When event owners come to Atlantic City, they can experience world-class accommodations, critically acclaimed dining, superstar entertainment, tax-free shopping, exciting nightlife, great sports, spectacular attractions, the world-famous Boardwalk and beautiful pristine beaches.
Atlantic City is 60 miles from Philadelphia, 125 miles from New York and 175 miles from Washington, DC. Atlantic City guarantees fast-paced excitement and non-stop year-round activities.
Ohio: Warren County
Warren County is Ohio’s Largest Playground®. Conveniently located just minutes from Cincinnati and Dayton, and easily accessible from both I-71 and I-75, this Southwest Ohio hot spot is home not only to a booming leisure travel industry but a rapidly expanding sporting scene as well.
Headlining that expansion is the construction of the Warren County Sports Park at Union Village, a state-of-the-art destination sports complex due to open its doors for championship and tournament play in 2019. Developed, financed and operated by the Warren County Convention & Visitors Bureau, this cutting-edge complex will feature both natural and synthetic turf fields perfectly fit to accommodate soccer, Ultimate, lacrosse, baseball, softball and more.
Also home to a world-class professional tennis center, championship golf courses, beautiful baseball and basketball facilities, a newly constructed outdoor bike park and an incredible array of award-winning leisure attractions and hotels, Warren County delivers unforgettable experiences both on and off the field, making it one of the Midwest’s most in-demand sporting destinations. Event owners ready to plan a Warren County play can score more info at OhiosLargestPlayground.com.
Pennsylvania: Hershey Harrisburg
Sports and events tourism has been thriving in Hershey and Harrisburg for a long time, but the launch of a dedicated Sports & Events Authority (operated as a division of Visit Hershey & Harrisburg) in 2016 has allowed the new team to allocate more resources to business development and to offer more support to the events in the market. Gregg Cook heads the Hershey Harrisburg Sports & Events Authority (HHSE) as executive director, leading a team that includes business development and marketing and communications staff.
The region boasts flexible facilities and a sweet destination in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Events with a youth market love the benefits of having access to attractions like Hersheypark® and Hershey’s Chocolate World Attraction. The Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center in Harrisburg has more than one million square feet of event space under one roof.
Organizers for sports like basketball, volleyball, lacrosse and figure skating have long been familiar with the region’s offerings. Now, eSports is coming on strong with Harrisburg University’s (HU) industry-leading eSports program. HU hosted the HUE Festival in summer 2018, an event that combined gaming and a music festival that was regarded as the largest collegiate eSports event to date.
Those interested in hosting an event in Hershey and Harrisburg can contact HHSE Business Development Manager Dean Polk at 717-231-2989.
South Carolina: Anderson
Located near the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Anderson, South Carolina, is able to meet event owners’ athletic and outdoor needs. Athletes can fish Lake Hartwell, a 56,000-acre championship fishery with 962 miles of shoreline which features Green Pond Landing and Event Center, a 30-acre launch facility for fishing tournaments from local trails to the Bassmaster Classic. They can also enjoy a canoe or kayak trip down the Saluda River, which features South Carolina’s first ADA compliant canoe/kayak launch facility. And for variety, they can take in a rodeo, horse show or just enjoy the events at the T. Ed Garrison Livestock Arena.
Those interested in looking at venues for team sports can consider the Anderson Sports and Entertainment Center, a 337-acre facility that features the Civic Center of Anderson, which plays host to concerts, festivals, trade shows, community meetings and more. The 80-acre Anderson Sports Center has seven baseball/softball fields, three batting cages, eight tennis courts, an 18-hole disc golf course and hundreds of acres of public park and miles of walking trails. Anderson County is the only county in South Carolina with two members of the Baseball Hall of Fame and is home to the South Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame.
Paris, Texas, is a city wide-open to a wide range of cycling possibilities. In fact, it’s already home to the annual Tour de Paris Bicycle Rally in July. (One feature: the Love Civic Center, with its 65-foot Eiffel Tower boasting a red cowboy hat, an easy-to-recognize start and/or finish point for any event.)
Touring and racing events will find plenty of opportunities to customize a route; already, the Tour de Paris has used seven different routes, ranging from 14 to 80 miles. A ready-made core of volunteers is present as cyclists pedal through historic downtown, sections of THE NETT, Trail de Paris and beautiful county roads. In addition, all routes offer plentiful rest stops and excellent food.
The sites of www.tourdeparis.org and www.Spinistry.net can help planners learn about other cycle-friendly amenities the city offers. The Hell of North East Texas Gravel Grind, for example, takes in three counties including sections of the North East Texas Trail with rest stops conveniently located throughout.
The Barber Hills Mountain Bike trails at Pat Mayse Lake a few miles North of Paris are open all year and provide even more challenges. With over 13 miles of trails, there is something for every level of rider a mountain bike event organizer can bring.
Many youth sports tournaments are choosing the Texas coast to take advantage of fabulous ocean scenery and outstanding sports amenities. In Portland, Texas – located in the Coastal Bend region on Corpus Christi Bay – two exceptional sports facilities opened in 2017.
The 38-acre Sports Complex features four all-artificial-turf softball fields that are also suitable for baseball and soccer, a youth football field that doubles as a UIL soccer field and a multi-purpose artificial turf field. The 21-acre Municipal Park offers five all-artificial-turf baseball fields that can be used for softball and soccer, a covered basketball court and a walking/jogging track. Both facilities are equipped with sports lighting, covered spectator seating, dugouts, scoreboards, batting cages, concession areas and playgrounds with splash pads.
When the games are over, groups can enjoy ocean recreation of all kinds, including Indian Point Pier and Sunset Lake for fishing and birding, an oceanfront golf course, Padre Island National Seashore and Corpus Christi and Nueces bays for fishing, kite boarding, kayaking and canoeing.
Group transportation and lodging are convenient. Portland is only 15 miles from Corpus Christi International Airport, and nine hotels are within five minutes of the sports venues. Event owners can find out more at playportlandtexas.com.
Washington: Snohomish County
WELCOME TO PNW SPORTS where dedication to a successful event is our badge of honor.
Top five reasons to play here:
1) Dedication – Skate America to NFAA Outdoor Field Archery Championships to US Youth Soccer; the team is committed to the success of every event
2) Service – From volunteer recruitment to grant applications, the staff exists to better serve event owners and rights holders
3) Airport – A new commercial airport coming early 2019 with 10 non-stop destinations along the west coast served daily
4) Play Fields – A variety of sports venues to host any tournament: Angel Of The Winds Arena, Meadowdale Playfields, Lake Tye Park, Everett Community College, Harbor Pointe Badminton Club and Darrington Archery Range
5) Access to Seattle – Snohomish is so close, making it possible to hold Seattle sporting events at a fraction of the cost.
This destination is close to the world-class everything that Seattle has to offer, being just 15 miles north. Participants can visit the best café in the world in Everett, shop the premium outlets, take a road trip through the mountains and picnic beside an alpine lake.
Event owners and rights holders should consider Snohomish County a launch pad from which to compete and explore in the True PNW. For more information visit SnoCoSports.org. SDM
- City of Surprise
- Visit Camarillo
- St. Pete/Clearwater Sports & Events
- Visit Lake
- Palm Beach County Sports Commission
- Aurora Area Sports Alliance
- Meet Chicago Northwest
- Visit Maryland Heights
- Warrensburg CVB
- Bismarck-Mandan Convention & Visitors Bureau
- Atlantic City Sports Commission
- Warren County Convention & Visitors Bureau
- Hershey Harrisburg Sports & Events Authority
- Hershey/Harrisburg Convention & Visitors Bureau
- Anderson Convention & Visitors Bureau
- City of Portland
- Snohomish County Sports Commission