Jamestown, Virginia was the first permanent English settlement.
The Statue of Liberty welcomed immigrants to Ellis Island.
Historic battles were fought in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
The Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia.
Many events in the Mid-Atlantic United States have been historic in nature. And while today’s sporting events may not mold the country's future, it very well may mold our future athletes. It's true Americana too, boasting not only some of the most historic attractions in our nation, but also an abundance of venues to utilize while discovering our history.
With professional franchises in the NFL, NHL, NBA and Major League Baseball, there’s no shortage of world class facilities, but the pros aren’t the only option.
The York Expo Center and Toyota Arena in York County, Pennsylvania offer a wide range of sporting events from equestrian to cheerleading and volleyball to wrestling. This 120-acre complex features both indoor and outdoor space. Memorial Park Softball Complex and Sovereign Bank Stadium offer additional options.
In Ocean City, Maryland, the ocean isn’t the only attraction. “We have a fantastic recreation park at Northside Park ,” said Donna Abbott, Communications Manager with the Ocean City Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Northside Park is a 58-acre complex with three lighted softball/baseball fields, a lighted soccer field, multipurpose field, 14,200-square-foot gymnasium and a 21,000-square- foot sports center annex.
Hampton Roads Soccer Complex, located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, welcomes more than 50,000 visitors to its 75-acre, 19-field facility on an annual basis. USA National Field Hockey Training Center, Virginia Beach Field House, Prince William Ice Center and Greater Richmond Aquatics are just down the road.
Martinsville-Henry County is best known for the Martinsville Speedway and its NASCAR races but the hot spots don’t stop there. The Smith River Sports Complex is a 90-acre facility ideal for soccer, lacrosse, football and field hockey. Hooker Field is home to the Martinsville Mustangs and also hosts high school and collegiate games.
Having the best of both worlds isn’t bad either. Maryland is busting at the seams with FedEx Field, home of the Washington Redskins; M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens; and Oriole Park at Camden Yards as well as a plethora of collegiate and municipal venues.
In New Jersey, the Meadowlands-Liberty area will host the 2014 Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium and is also home to the Ice House with four regulation size NHL rinks, Izod Center at the Meadowlands and Meadowlands Race Track to name a few.
A Natural Touch
The Atlantic Ocean hugs the region with endless beaches. The Appalachian mountains provide scenic beauty on the other side. Both provide magnificent natural venues.
“We have a very diverse selection of events,” said Terry Hasseltine, director of the Maryland Office of Sports Marketing. “From the Preakness to Cal Ripken’s World Series, what you see is that we have such a diverse offering because of all of the unique terrain throughout the state.”
“We have everything from the ocean and Chesapeake Bay to the mountains in the west for skiing,” he continued. “The state encompasses all the country has to offer in a nice package.”
That’s not to say the beach doesn’t offer its fair share of opportunities.
“With 10 miles of beach, it’s perfect for a lot of events,” said Donna Abbott, communications manager with Ocean City Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We host sand soccer and surfing events. Add that to our hotel, condominiums and restaurants and we offer the whole package.”
The 2011 Dew Tour competes in not only in surfing but also BMX and skateboard. “In anticipation of the Dew tour, we renovated the skatepark,” said Abbott. “It’s like a brand new facility for skateboarding, inline skating and BMX events.”
In Baltimore, M&T Bank Stadium will host the 2014 NCAA Men’s Lacrosse National Championships and the 2014 and 2016 Army-Navy games. The USATF National Junior Olympics will be held at Morgan State University in that same city in July.
After the success of the 2011 Summer Dew Tour, Ocean City is looking to expand. “The Dew Tour gave us great exposure to a large audience and we started getting inquiries right after that event,” said Abbott. “We are building upon those events and partnering with the state of Maryland.”
The 17th Annual Sand Duels Beach Soccer Tournament is slated for June, and Reach the Beach 2012 Nationals in Cheer & Dance took place in February. The White Marlin Open is an annual angler event in August and resulted in $16 million in economic impact in 2009, drawing more than 5,000 visitors from out of state over five days.
York County, Pennsylvania will host the Blue Chip USA Invitation Tournament in July with more than 3,600 high school girls competing. The event will result in $4.1 million in economic impact.
“This is a new one and we are very excited,” said Rob Mayer, public relations coordinator with the York County Convention & Visitors Bureau. “York County is a great place especially for the amateur sports market because of our location. We are really connected to a lot of metro areas.”
Other events include the HP Pro Tour York Thoroughbred National Championship, Amateur Softball Association (ASA), Kick-It Soccer, Keystone Volleyball and York Young Revolution Classic. These events will attract 10,000 visitors and result in $3.2 million in economic impact.
2015 looks to be a big year for Virginia. Richmond will host the 2015 Road World Cycling Championships, and the 2015 World Police and Fire Games will be held in Fairfax.
“We are really excited about two world events coming to Virginia,” said Joni Johnson, National Sales Manager with the Virginia Tourism Corporation. “We will get international exposure and that’s wonderful.”
Martinsville Speedway hosts five major racing events on an annual basis that include the Goody’s 500, and TUMS 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Races but it’s not just about racing.
USA Ultimate Frisbee South Atlantic Regional College Tournament was held at Smith River Sports Complex in May and hosted the USA South Soccer Tournament in November 2011.
How They Do It
Securing tournaments and events are no small feat. The venues are key components, but that’s not all.
The Maryland Office of Sports Marketing has had remarkable success. In the first two years, the staff there has engaged over $1 billion of activity and secured over $350 million.
“It’s our key partners who have identified sports as a significant economic driver in their locations,” explained Hasseltine. “And working in synergy to make sure Maryland is first and foremost in event owners' minds. We deliver a first-class product when doing events.”
In Virginia, Joni Johnson agrees. “Our state-of-the art venues, mild climate and diverse terrain are important,” she said. “In general, people come because of the relationship the destination has with the rights holders. They won’t come if the venues aren’t great and relationships aren’t good. We work with great partners throughout the Commonwealth.”
Community support is a big factor for York County. “We make sure we have the groups covered,” said Rob Mayer. “We go above and beyond by getting the community involved and getting volunteers to assist with event. What separates us is the people in the community who are willing to help out.”
Virginia's Smith River Sports Complex has increased its number of events by 30% in the past year. “One of our best forms of marketing is through word of mouth with satisfied event planners spreading the word for us about their positive experience,” said Jennifer Doss, director of tourism with the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation.
Whether you hear about the Mid-Atlantic by word of mouth or the rights holder, this region is sure to mold your athlete both on and off the field.