There’s nothing that can give an established event renewed interest like a new site. Moving to a fresh location can bring in new athletes, heighten the public profile of events and even help rebrand an event – if that’s something you’ve been considering.
If you’ve been hunting around for a new home base for your teams, you’re in luck. SDM has compiled a shortlist of some great locations, all ready to host and even to help athletes make the most of their downtime.
Surprise, Arizona is a sports-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 Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Prep Baseball Report (PBR), Perfect Game Baseball, United States Tennis Association (USTA), Wilson Premier Baseball and many others.
Illinois: Chicago Northwest
Dream big with the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel. This venue offers a 100,000-square-foot column-free convention center with built-in concessions that gives events the opportunity to build out the next tournament or conference with ease. An additional 50,000 square feet is seamlessly connected and attendees never have to step outside.
Chicago Northwest has over 650 restaurants at every price point for attendees to enjoy, with Chicago favorites like deep dish pizza, Italian, beef and Chicago-style hot dogs. Looking for something higher-end? This area has that too.
There is also plenty to do after the competition. Attendees can go shopping at nearly 300 stores in Woodfield Mall, visit places like Topgolf, X-Golf’s virtual golf, First Ascent’s huge climbing and bouldering facility, ENTERRIUM’s upscale bowling alley and arcade, Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament or catch live music or a comedy show at one of the local clubs.
Chicago Northwest is on the edge of Chicago and in the middle of everything, where visitors are the center of the universe… and parking is FREE. To learn more, planners can connect with Melinda at 847-278-3445 or email@example.com. There is also a cash-back incentive of up to $3,000 for new groups.
In Elgin, visitors and athletes alike can discover the area’s vibrant arts scene and captivating events, as well as abundant opportunities to immerse themselves in the outdoors. Located in the heart of the Midwest, Elgin allows for easy travel from neighboring states and is a short drive from downtown Chicago.
With so many places to explore and things to do, the Elgin area welcomes visitors to come and enjoy. There are over 1,000 hotel rooms and hundreds of entertainment, dining, shopping, retail and cultural options for visitors to enjoy and experience.
A total of 10 communities offer endless possibilities. After the competitions are over, visitors can spend a day biking or kayaking the Fox River Trails, experiencing local flavor at incredible restaurants and exploring the downtowns – and that is just for starters.
Elgin is also the perfect place for hosting the next sporting event. There are great facilities for any time of the year, so event owners can take a look at all the area has to offer. With so many things to do in the Elgin area, it’s almost hard to pick just a few.
Rantoul, Illinois, is vastly growing, thanks to new sports facilities. In April of 2021, the Rantoul Family Sports Complex opened as a premier outdoor destination with eight baseball/softball fields, two Little League/Challenger fields and eight soccer/football multi-purpose fields.
With all turf surfaces and plenty of amenities, the complex, in its inaugural season, hosted hundreds of teams every weekend since opening and will be back in March of 2022 with even more events planned. Rounding out the year of programming, Rantoul is welcoming a new indoor amateur motocross facility on the former Chanute Air Force Base, taking over a 218,000-square-foot hangar.
B-52 Hanger MX will host events on two tracks from December through March. With thousands of athletes and fans coming to Rantoul, which sits just north of Champaign-Urbana and the University of Illinois, new hotels, restaurants and area attractions are in the works to further welcome teams to the community.
Illinois: Great Rivers and Routes
There is only one place in America where two of our nation’s great roadways come together alongside the confluence of America’s three great rivers. And that is right here in the Great Rivers and Routes region of southwest Illinois in the shadow of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.
The region features towns including historic Elsah, Grafton, Godfrey, Edwardsville, Collinsville and Alton where you’ll find some of the best outdoor recreation in the Midwest. Big water kayaking and first-class fishing, including 100 pound catfish, can be found in the waters where the Illinois, Missouri and Mississippi Rivers converge.
The bluffs along the Mississippi River feature several hundred feet of elevation and are great for terrain runs, archery tournaments, axe throwing competitions and other outdoor adventure sports. Out of the water you’ll find the MCT Trail system featuring over 200 miles of paved cycling and running paths that intertwine with historic byways, the Great River Road and Historic Route 66, which celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2026.
Connect with Great Rivers & Routes to learn more about all of the versatile venues and unique experiences the region has to offer at RiversandRoutes.com.
Plans are well underway for Scheels Sports Park at Legacy Point, a new multi-use facility that will mark Springfield, Illinois as a sports destination. The park, to be managed by Sports Facilities Companies, is expected to host 60- to 100-team tournaments on weekends.
Visiting Scheels Sports Park will captivate guests from the moment they step in the gates. It is the perfect place for team practice, large tournaments or an action-packed outing for sports-loving families. The multi-use complex can be configured for almost any sport imaginable. It will also feature a 170,000-square-foot indoor dome and a full-size championship field with a stadium-style framework.
In addition to diamonds for baseball and softball, the park will boast state-of-the-art all-turf fields for soccer, football, rugby and lacrosse, while sport court spaces will allow for wrestling, cheer and dance and volleyball. The development plan includes an outdoor beer garden, pavilion and picnic area, playground and walking path, plus an indoor performance and fitness area with a hitting center and an administration building with a medical center, restrooms and concessions.
Scheels Sports Park is dedicated to an inclusive, exciting environment for every guest. Whether the goal is a fun day with the family, a challenging workout or the premier destination for a championship game, Scheels Sports Park is the place to be.
North Carolina: Hickory
Want more? Hickory has more. The Hickory Metro Convention Center is expanding and renovating to better serve the needs of sports tourism.
Once completed, the Hickory Metro Convention Center facility will be approximately 165,600 square feet all on one level with 132,000 usable square feet for meetings and events. There will be approximately 110,000 square feet of interconnected flat floor exhibit space along with ancillary small meeting rooms and pre-function spaces.
The new and improved venue will offer a 35,000-square-foot exhibit hall with 30-foot clear ceiling height and wood flooring, able to fit eight volleyball courts and four basketball courts. It will also provide an ideal space for cheerleading, gymnastics and wrestling events, not to mention expos, public shows or meetings. The project is expected to be completed in 2024, which means it’s time for event owners and rights holders to start thinking about all that Hickory has to offer.
Hickory is a fun, friendly, interesting and memorable location for any tournament or event. With hotels, restaurants, attractions and plenty to do, it should be on the go-to list for every planner. Find out more at www.visithickorymetro.com.
Ohio: Cedar Point
Located in Sandusky, Ohio along the scenic North Coast and Lake Erie, Cedar Point Sports Center pairs incredible events with the world’s best amusement park destination, Cedar Point Amusement Park.
At 145,000 square feet, Cedar Point Sports Center boasts 10 full-size basketball courts, convertible to 20 volleyball courts. The main court area is 78,000 square feet of uninterrupted space, allowing the area to be used for a multitude of different sports and events. In 2022, the venue hosted basketball, volleyball, futsal, wrestling, cheer and dance, gymnastics, baton twirling, Jiu-Jitsu, musical events and multiple business symposiums and expos.
While Cedar Point Sports Center is primarily a youth sports tourism venue, the facility also provides local sports programming to the surrounding communities by running youth leagues, summer camps and clinics.
The facility was also recently named “Partner of the Year” by their local CVB, Shores & Islands Ohio, for making an outstanding contribution through partnership and collaboration to develop, build and enhance the region.
More information is available at www.cpsports.com.
Pennsylvania: Lancaster County
Lancaster County has all the amenities of a big city but with a distinctive style all its own. Boasting approximately 9,000 guest rooms, state-of-the-art venues and facilities, the area can host a wide variety of events at a great value.
Unique from traditional northeast locations, Lancaster County blends the convenience of being centrally located to the metropolitan areas of Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, DC and New York, with its own sophistication. There is plenty for teams to do in their downtime. From farm-to-table dining to outdoor adventures and outlet shopping, a full weekend of competition and fun awaits.
A few of the fantastic local facilities include…
Spooky Nook Sports: Home to the largest indoor sports complex in America.
Lancaster Convention Center: Providing more than 90,000 square feet of combined space for cheerleading competitions, volleyball tournaments and mixed martial arts events, this integrated facility is ideal for all athletic championships in a location that is convenient to northeast metropolitan cities – but not as demanding on the event budget.
The Kunkel Aquatic Center: A 21,000-square-foot natatorium housing the 50-meter x 25-yard McGinness Pool. McGinness Pool is the site of the annual Centennial Conference Swimming Championships and the NJ YMCA State Championships.
South Dakota: Sioux Falls
South Dakota’s largest city is a mecca for sports events, from youth to collegiate and professional. Conveniently located in the Midwest, Sioux Falls offers premier indoor and outdoor sports venues with convenient lodging, dining, retail and unique fan experiences.
Nationally recognized rivalries draw in passionate fans that fill the seats. Exuberant atmospheres combined with accessibility, hospitality and event requirements at affordable costs make Sioux Falls a natural choice for hosting sports events of all types and sizes.
The Denny Sanford PREMIER Center offers 132,000 square feet of combined multi-purpose space with the attached Convention Center and 8,000-seat arena. Seating for the PREMIER Center is 11,000 for basketball, 10,450 for hockey and 5,750 for rodeo.
Just a short drive away is the Sanford Sports Complex, where youth, collegiate and professional athletes showcase their skills. The cornerstone of the complex is the Sanford Pentagon with seating for 3,250 and the ability to host nine basketball or volleyball games at one time. The complex also includes venues for hockey, football, gymnastics and training. A new $50 million expansion includes 18 new outdoor turf fields for baseball, softball and soccer. Onsite hotels and entertainment round out this one-of-a-kind sports destination.
Legends Event Center – Bryan, Texas celebrated its grand opening on Saturday December 10, 2022. Residents of Bryan were treated to a fun-filled, family-friendly event, that included complimentary coffee, barbeque sandwiches, face painting, balloon animals, bounce houses, catered meals and more. Attendees were able to get a glimpse of what the future holds for the venue, as there were volleyball practices, basketball and pickleball games, a cornhole tournament and a live esports competition featuring the two local high school competitive teams.
One week after opening their doors, Legends Event Center hosted the 26th annual Doc Hess Classic Memorial Wrestling Tournament, featuring over 1,500 competitors and 2,000 spectators. The venue will continue to host major tournaments and competitions in the following months, with statewide volleyball tournaments, regional basketball tournaments, pickleball, futsal, cornhole and esports tournaments.
With over 65,000 square feet of total court space, 16 volleyball courts that overlap eight basketball courts, tournament directors and event organizers can look to increase their footprint by booking their next tournament with Legends Event Center. For booking inquires, please reach out by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Virginia: Virginia Beach
Maybe it’s the miles of sandy beaches or the sparkling waters that call visitors to explore. Maybe it’s the welcoming sunshine or the year-round activities that offer endless possibilities for adventure. There’s simply an electrifying energy in Virginia Beach, one that compels athletes to move, do and be a part of the action. Bringing together a unique coastal spirit with state-of-the-art facilities, Virginia Beach is the ideal place to host an unforgettable sporting event.
From indoor to outdoor sports, and friendly games to massive tournaments, Virginia Beach is a prime setting for competition. In addition to modern complexes ready to host all types of sports and capacities, Virginia Beach offers a vibrant, diverse atmosphere that athletes and event attendees won’t soon forget.
Virginia Beach may be famous for its gorgeous outdoor spaces, but the city’s newest sports facility makes it a pleasure to be indoors. Having opened in October 2020, the Virginia Beach Sports Center is a state-of-the-art facility that’s ready to host a wide variety of indoor sports, including basketball, volleyball, indoor track and field, and indoor field hockey. Its 285,000 square feet of convertible space can accommodate 12 basketball courts, 24 volleyball courts, nine field hockey courts, and a 200-meter hydraulically banked track, and it can hold up to 5,000 spectators to watch the action. SDM