New Homes for Visiting Teams
4 Sep, 2021By: Mary Helen Sprecher
The year 2020 pushed us outside our comfort zone in every way – including making us rethink our choice of locations for events. The good news is that there were (and continue to be) many great options. And whether your event plays out in a pool, on the sand, on the road, the court, the open water, the field or anywhere else, there’s an entire roster of excellent places to host it.
The following pages include some of our favorite venues, all of which boast competent, professional staff members ready to help you achieve the best possible result as you look to relocate your event. And who knows? A long-term partnership with mutually beneficial results may be just waiting for you.
Foley Sports Tourism Complex
Perfectly positioned between the sweet sounds of families laughing, and shades of blue on roller coasters and rooftops is the Foley Sports Tourism Complex. The complex includes the multi-purpose Foley Event Center which is ready to accommodate any kind of play. Outside, just footsteps from the event center, you can catch a glimpse of Foley’s 16 lush green sports fields and championship stadium fit for action.
The Foley Event Center offers more than 90,000 square feet of flexible space with 12 volleyball courts, six competition-size basketball courts and more than 12 pickleball courts. Equipped with top-quality sports flooring, the complex is an ideal place to host cheer, gymnastics and more. The entire space can also be carpeted for banquets and mat sports.
The FST Fields and Championship Stadium are ready to take on just about any sport. Fitted with Musco Sports Lighting, Tifton 419 Bermuda Grass and a state-of-the-art lightning detection system, Foley is ready for play. Whether it’s football, soccer, Ultimate, lacrosse, field hockey or field hockey, the opportunities are endless.
Foley is also home to the Graham Creek Nature Preserve. The 500 acres of natural habitat offers three full 18-hole disc golf courses, a canoe/kayak launch, an archery park, bike trails, running trails and a 3,000-square-foot interpretive center.
Foley is surrounded by a vibrant and welcoming community. With more than 1,000 hotel rooms, dining options, shopping and even an amusement park, the city has possibilities for everyone to enjoy.
Alabama: Gulf Shores and Orange Beach
Beaches, Waterways, Fields and Courts
Turquoise waters lapping the shore, soft white-sand beaches and warm salty breezes…where are you? From stunning natural venues to well-maintained sports complexes, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach on the Alabama Gulf Coast is a year-round destination for sports and events.
“What makes hosting events in coastal Alabama so special is both on and beyond the venues,” said Michelle Russ, CSEE, vice president of sales for Gulf Shores | Orange Beach Sports & Events. “Our natural amenities – the beach, waterways, a biodiverse state park and a national wildlife refuge – beckon families and fans to travel for events and incorporate vacations.”
The beach and waterways along the Alabama Gulf Coast shine and are particularly fitting for events like races, beach volleyball, handball, beach soccer, Ultimate, powerboating, fishing, kayaking and paddleboarding. Additionally, the Gulf Shores Sportsplex offers a track facility, football stadium, soccer field and high school softball and baseball fields. The Orange Beach Sportsplex features a football stadium, championship soccer field, softball and baseball fields and sand volleyball courts.
On the horizon are upgrades to both sportsplexes and venues around the destination, including updated tennis facilities, new pickleball courts in Gulf Shores and upgraded baseball and softball stadiums in Orange Beach. www.GSOBsports.com | 866-813-5795
Von Braun Center, Propst Arena,
Mark C. Smith Concert Hall, Playhouse Theatre
zThe Von Braun Center is a multi-purpose turnkey entertainment venue equipped with over 170,000 square feet of space and can accommodate a full range of sporting events. The 10,000-seat Propst Arena, 2,153 seat Mark C. Smith Concert Hall and 502 seat Playhouse Theatre can also be used as meeting areas for conferences or seminars.
Surprise Stadium, the Cactus League Spring Training home of both the Kansas City Royals and the Texas Rangers, is located in the heart of the city of Surprise, about 45 minutes from downtown Phoenix. But don’t get the idea it’s just an MLB destination. This facility offers multiple fields and is perfect for hosting all levels of tournament play and making memories that will last long after the games are through.
Events hosted at the stadium this summer have included Perfect Game, USA Baseball and the rookie-level Arizona League, all of which have enjoyed grand slam experiences on the fields. Those looking for a place to host a baseball event will find Surprise is the best place for it. Event owners can learn more about the award winning facility by visiting
the website, exploresurprise.com/book-an-event-tournament or send an e-mail to Info@surprisestadium.com.
The venue is batting 1,000 with baseball aficionados too; in fact, it was recognized by USA TODAY as the number-one Spring Training Complex in the Cactus League in 2018. Additionally, the park also topped all 23 Arizona and Florida Spring Training facilities in the categories of facility and fan experience. After hours, there’s all of Surprise to explore, with its restaurants, attractions and cultural scene.
Hosting a tournament in Surprise provides a great opportunity for players to step onto the same fields where Major League dreams are made – and to live out their own dreams.
Stephen C. O’Connell Center at the University of Florida
From youth cheer competitions to NCAA tournament rounds, the Stephen C. O’Connell Center at the University of Florida has hosted some of the nation’s most prestigious events. The O’Connell Center truly offers something for every champion as a 292,000-square-foot multi-purpose facility featuring a main arena with a seating capacity of 10,500, an eight-lane natatorium with seating capacity of 1,005, practice court, dance studio and various size meeting/dressing rooms.
Being home to the University of Florida’s Gators basketball, volleyball, gymnastics and swimming/diving, the facility is constantly bustling with some type of sports activity. After the event, athletes and their families will have no shortage of activities and places to stay. Alachua County boasts several state parks, natural springs and museums, along with an abundance of shopping and dining options in Celebration Pointe, Butler Plaza and Downtown Gainesville, plus over 5,000 hotel rooms from top brands to choose from.
The Gainesville Sports Commission staff makes events exceptional by providing attendees the perfect facility with the combination of Gainesville’s rich sports performance history and college town charm.
Contact the GSC or visit www.gainesvillesportscommission.com to train, play and win like a champion.
Expand the possibilities in the heart of Downtown Boise with The Neighborhood. Within The Neighborhood, planners will find the Idaho Central Arena, the premier sporting and event arena in the Northwest. It includes a fantastic exhibit hall and a 17,000-square-foot sports arena offering 5,000 stadium seats. Over the years, Idaho Central Arena has hosted basketball, arena football, hockey, indoor soccer, motocross and gymnastics events.
Attached to the arena, The Grove Hotel provides over 250 luxury hotel rooms as well as VIP arena-facing suites that provide additional event seating. Just steps away is the Boise Centre, Idaho’s largest convention center that accommodates a wide range of events.
The Centre was lauded for its efforts by the Global BioRisk Advisory Council (GBAC), the gold standard for facilities. The international group recently granted the Boise Centre the GBAC STAR Facility Accreditation for its “commitment to ensuring a clean, safe and healthy environment for its employees, clients and their guests.”
More than 1,300 hotel rooms are within walking distance of The Neighborhood, providing an ample amount of accommodation needs including luxury and boutique hotels. Boise’s friendly, compact and walkable downtown boasts plentiful dining, breweries and wine tasting rooms, shops, nightlife and cultural attractions.
Youth and Collegiate Sports Facilities
Ruston & Lincoln Parish is known for its college-town atmosphere and thriving downtown district. The area continues to build a reputation as one of the south’s premier places for sports by offering unmatched youth and collegiate sporting facilities.
Sitting on 185 acres in North Louisiana, the new Ruston Sports Complex features cutting-edge baseball, softball, tennis, football and soccer amenities, making it a perfect location for any youth sports event. In addition to 36 fields, the complex also boasts walking trails, a six-acre stocked pond, covered playgrounds and charging stations for patrons’ enjoyment and convenience. Event staff and officials can also take advantage of fully stocked indoor hospitality spaces. An exciting development is the addition of a 62,470-square-foot indoor facility coming in fall 2021, which features hardwood courts, conference/hospitality space, full-service concessions and more state-of-the-art amenities.
The area is also home to a variety of attractions, family-friendly activities and cultural events. Conveniently located on Interstate 20, Ruston is perfectly positioned to draw participants and spectators. Ruston’s unparalleled hospitality makes it an ideal location for any state, regional or national event. Come discover why Ruston & Lincoln Parish is quickly becoming known as The Sports Capital of the South.
Indiana: Hamilton County
Grand Park, Westfield
Just north of Indianapolis, Hamilton County, Indiana is a premier destination for sporting events one - grand facility in a community filled with top-notch venues.
Home of Grand Park in Westfield, Indiana, the area is a destination like no other. The thoughtfully designed 400-acre Grand Park Sports Campus features an impressive lineup of playing space and amenities that makes it an ideal tournament and event host. With 26 diamonds, 31 multi-purpose fields, eight indoor basketball/volleyball courts and three indoor full-size soccer fields, Grand Park is a destination for year-round competition. Whether event owners are planning a youth event or a national championship, all teams (and fans) will be treated to top-quality amenities that can only be found at a complex of this magnitude.
Grand Park is also home to several big teams, including Indy Eleven and Indiana Fire Juniors, and is the official home of the Indianapolis Colts Training Camp.
The dedicated team at the Hamilton County Sports Authority offers tournament event planners an array of championship-caliber venues and support services to ensure any event is a success.
Missouri: Maryland Heights
The Centene Community Ice Center
Opened in 2019, The Centene Community Ice Center is a state-of-the-art facility that features four NHL-size ice sheets, including a rink with 2,500-person seating capacity, two additional indoor sheets and a covered outdoor rink.
One of the additional indoor sheets serves as the St. Louis Blues practice center. The covered outdoor rink is designed as a multi-purpose venue for concerts, festivals and other events during warmer months. In addition to on-ice activity that extends beyond hockey, the complex offers sports medicine, therapy, training, and other ancillary medical services. The facility features many food and beverage options including 314 Social Bar & Restaurant and general concessions.
The Centene Community Ice Center has hosted the 2019 USA Hockey Sled Classic and the 2020 USA Chipotle Hockey Championships. They will host the 2022 ACHA National Championships and 2024 NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Regional. For more information, please visit www.centenecommunityicecenter.com.
North Carolina: Goldsboro-Wayne
Bryan Multi-Sports Complex
Nestled in the heart of eastern North Carolina between Raleigh and the coast, Goldsboro is a destination with rich culture and heritage. It is home to one of the most unique, premier multi-sports complexes in the country, the Bryan Multi-Sports Complex.
The complex opened April 2018 and has already been recognized as a top soccer venue in the U.S. It is located on 63 acres of Seymour Johnson AFB and is the product of the first partnership of its kind between a military base and its home community — embodying a perfect example of how positive collaboration between airmen and their host community can strengthen the quality of life throughout the region.
The venue is structured to host a variety of field sports and cross-country events in North Carolina’s ideal outdoor sports climate, all while providing the unique experience of competing under the contrails of U.S. Air Force fighter jets.
Competing in one of the best venues possible is a guarantee when coming to Goldsboro, but downtown’s beautiful new streetscapes, expanded multi-use greenways and numerous boutique shops, eclectic eateries and tap houses are key ingredients to hosting a successful and meaningful tournament for visiting athletes, spectators and staff.
North Carolina: Greensboro
Greensboro Aquatic Center (GAC)
The Greensboro Aquatics Center (GAC) is a 105,323-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility featuring leading edge concepts in aquatic design. Built in 2011 at a cost of nearly $19 million, the GAC has quickly emerged as one of the top aquatic facilities in the nation.
The GAC is located on the campus of the Greensboro Coliseum Complex, the premier sports and entertainment facility in the Southeast. This multi-purpose, three-pool site brings together all major aquatic sports – competitive swimming and diving, water polo, synchronized swimming and other unique sports–in one venue.
A fourth pool at the GAC was completed in September 2019. The new pool connects to the existing GAC and provides 19 additional short course lanes and eight long course lanes. It serves myriad uses including providing increased pool time/swimming lanes for GAC members, clubs and high school teams.
The GAC has recently played host to an impressive national swim meet calendar, including being the host of the YMCA National Short Course Championships for the past seven years, the 2012 U.S. Masters Swimming Spring National Championships, which featured a field of more than 1,850 swimmers, including 12 Olympians.
North Carolina: Rocky Mount
Rocky Mount Event Center
Just like many other youth and amateur sports venues across the nation, the 165,000-square-foot Rocky Mount Event Center anxiously awaited the day when it could welcome athletes and their families back to the venue to safely play again. The outstanding facility located in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, has safely hosted thousands of teams and over 10,000 total participants from North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Maryland, and as far as Washington State.
Since Valentine’s Day weekend, a tournament, dance competition, wedding, event reception, corporate meeting – or a mixture of many of these – have been booked at the venue with the safe guidelines in place to ensure an exceptional guest experience.
The return of events in Rocky Mount makes a difference not only for the local community, but for the entire Twin Counties region, Nash and Edgecombe. Regional sports tourism events such as weekend tournaments generate a significant economic impact. According to Barbara Green, the Executive Director of Explore Nash County Travel Tourism, “We are fortunate that the Rocky Mount Event Center was able to open in February. The tournaments they have hosted since then have helped create a much-needed stimulation for our local economy, furthering the city’s rebound from this pandemic. While in town, guests also explored the city of Rocky Mount bringing visitors to local hotels, retail shops, restaurants, and local attractions. Several hotels were completely booked during some of these tournaments! We look forward to welcoming additional visitors to bring millions of dollars in economic impact to the region.”
Executive Director of Edgecombe County Tourism, Elizabeth Burns, agreed with Green as she has seen guests from the facility in Downtown Tarboro. “Edgecombe County is thrilled that Rocky Mount Event Center has been able to host tournaments over the past several months using all the proper safety measures for those who attended. Visitors walking in Downtown Historic Tarboro, eating fine dining or even visiting the brewery show that these tournaments have positively impacted businesses and community life. I encourage residents and guests of Edgecombe to visit our wonderful county with its rich history, paddle trails, Rocky Mount Event Center and so much more.”
Rocky Mount Event Center is open for business and booking events of all kinds for late fall and 2022. Event owners seeking to learn more or to book events can visit rockymountevents.com.
North Carolina: Winston-Salem
RISE Indoor Sports
Look forward, and compete again at Winston-Salem, North Carolina’s newest multi-sport facility, RISE Indoor Sports. This state-of-the-art, 123,000-square-foot indoor sports complex opened in May 2021.
RISE features eight high school regulation basketball courts, 12 regulation volleyball courts, four indoor turf fields, four outdoor sand volleyball courts and seven meeting rooms, along with innovative streaming capabilities.
In addition to its flexible competition space, RISE boasts a 6,000-square-foot fitness center, 8,300-square-foot performance training center, 5,000-square-foot onsite sports medicine facility and full-service concessions with indoor and outdoor dining.
Located within 1.5 hours of three international airports (CLT, RDU, and GSO), RISE is an ideal venue for athletic tournaments.
“We’re excited that RISE can accommodate court sports as well as other indoor sports including martial arts, wrestling, gymnastics, and table tennis. The facility is also unique in that it has 28,000 square feet of sports indoor turf that can accommodate sports such as indoor lacrosse and soccer,” said Bonny Bernat, senior sports and events sales manager at Visit Winston-Salem.
Learn more about RISE and Visit Winston-Salem’s other game-changing sports venues at visitwinstonsalem.com/sports or contact Bonny at 336-728-4215 or email@example.com.
Bayfront Convention Center
With more than 100,000 square feet of space on site and nearly 400 adjoining hotel rooms, the Bayfront Convention Center in Erie, Pennsylvania has the capacity to host major sporting events, and it does so regularly. Its waterfront location with floor-to-ceiling windows, offering guests an up-close view of Presque Isle Bay, is a bonus.
The venue has an outstanding reputation for hosting successful sporting events, especially after making constant adjustments for guest safety over the last year. The venue annually hosts Pennsylvania’s largest co-ed gymnastics invitational, as well as one of the country’s largest 8-ball pool competitions, national level cheer and dance events and wrestling tournaments. Additionally, the Bayfront Convention Center has hosted a stop on American Cornhole League’s Pro and Open Tour in 2020 and 2021.
More than 470 free parking spaces are available onsite, and two hotels are attached to the property: the 200-room Sheraton Bayfront Hotel and the 192-room Courtyard Erie Bayfront. Both hotels offer stunning waterfront views and first-class amenities. The location of the complex along Erie’s Bayfront makes it readily accessible from Interstate 79 and Interstate 90.
For more information, visit eriesportscommission.com.
Spooky Nook Sports, located just outside of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is the largest indoor sports complex in North America, providing regulation courts and playing field for more than a dozen sports under one roof.
In addition to the 700,000-square-foot indoor facility, The Nook offers a full-size outdoor turf fields, as well as a climate-controlled dome used for field hockey, soccer, football and more. The Nook is the premier destination for clubs, tournaments and competitions. For an overnight experience, guests can stay at the Warehouse Hotel located all under one roof.
But that’s just the beginning. The Nook also features extensive recreational facilities, including a climbing center, fitness center, food court and arcade, as well as event and meeting spaces. It’s a place where athletes, fans, families and businesses can get together in groups large and small to enjoy unique, world-class facilities.
From individual fitness training to birthday parties to national sporting events, The Nook delivers an unparalleled experience for all of its guests.
South Carolina: Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach Sports Center and Other Venues
When you plan your sports event, practice or tournament in Myrtle Beach, serious competition is followed by serious play time. With top-notch sports facilities and endless opportunities for post-game entertainment, events in Myrtle Beach consistently draw record attendance.
The Myrtle Beach Sports Center is conveniently located near the airport and right in the heart of town, offering 100,000 square feet of indoor facilities including eight basketball courts and 16 volleyball courts, as well as space to host gymnastics, wrestling, pickleball, table tennis and more. The large multi-screen video wall will show off your group’s hard work, and the facility can seat up to 2,000 spectators on telescopic bleachers.
There are also dozens of other facilities in the area able to fulfill your needs, with everything from Minor League Baseball stadiums to recreation centers to multi-sport complexes. After a long day of competition, the area’s excellent restaurants and unlimited fun make it easy to unwind.
Whatever your group is looking for, you’ll find the perfect facility and the best atmosphere in Myrtle Beach. Learn more about bringing your sports group to Myrtle Beach. myrtlebeachsports.com.
Ridley Sports Complex
Tennessee’s Premier Tournament Destination, Ridley Sports Complex, is centrally located in Columbia, a vibrant Main Street community named a “Top Ten Best Small Town” by Southern Living for its vibrant Town Square, Presidential history, and Duck River outdoor recreation. Columbia is centrally located less than 50 miles south of Nashville and just 75 miles northwest of Huntsville, Alabama.
Ridley Sports Complex is a modern facility that features 12 softball fields (this includes one championship field with stadium seating) and nine rectangular fields (this includes one championship field as well) for soccer, football and lacrosse. There are four concession areas and parking for 1,000 vehicles.
To reserve Ridley Sports Complex for your next tournament, please contact Columbia Parks & Recreation Department, Alex Troge: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: 931-388-8119.
Rocky Top Sports World
Rocky Top Sports World in Gatlinburg, Tennessee has just wrapped up an outstanding year. In its seventh year of operation, the industry-leading youth and amateur sports venue welcomed more than 135,700 athletes, spectators, families and friends to the campus. The award-winning complex contributed $46.9 million in economic impact during the 2020-2021 fiscal year.
The venue hosted more than 90 events onsite where 25 weekends involved both indoor and outdoor events taking place simultaneously. The venue more than doubled bookings on weekdays compared to last year, coming in at 21 total weekday events. This is a momentous achievement in the face of tremendous setbacks caused by the global pandemic. the global pandemic.
One of the venue’s shining events was the inaugural Gatlinburg All-American Bowl, hosted in December of 2020, where more than 120 athletes from eight states participated. The venue also played host to the Kohl’s Kicking National Elite Camp and National Scholarship Camp, which brought athletes from 45 states to the area. Kohl’s Kicking returned to Rocky Top Sports World in July of 2021 and is scheduled to come back in 2022 and 2023.
Rocky Top Sports World is managed by Sports Facilities Companies and is part of the nation’s fastest-growing network of venues. To learn more about Rocky Top Sports World, visit rockytopsportsworld.com.
Named America’s number-one river city, the Richmond, Virginia region is a place where teams want to play, and where families want to visit. Outdoor venues attract sports events from all over the world. The area’s to-do list includes more than 90 attractions and 1,000+ restaurants. Richmond is centrally located on the East Coast, and within a day’s drive for more than half of the U.S. population.
Along with countless indoor facilities, the Richmond region has some of the best settings for outdoor sporting events. They include River City Sportsplex, named #1 All-Star Outdoor Sports Venue in SportsEvents Magazine, with 12 lighted multi-purpose turf fields. Dorey Park has seven multi-purpose fields, six softball fields (four slow pitch and six fast pitch compatible), seven baseball fields for 12-and-under, one baseball field for 12-and-up, and an 18-hole disc golf course.
Glover Park features four organic infill artificial turf fields with lights, and eight sand volleyball courts. Pole Green Park has a premier 5K, 8K and 10K cross country course. At RF&P Park & Glen Allen Stadium, you’ll find three fast pitch softball fields, one 90’ baseball field, three 60’/70’ baseball fields, two multi-purpose fields, and an 850-seat stadium. For more information, visit SportsRichmondVA.com.
Virginia: Virginia Beach
Virginia Beach Sports Center
Where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean, Virginia Beach may be all about soft sands and ocean waves but planning your sporting events in this location will put you right on solid ground. You will have the support of Virginia Beach’s team ready to take your game to the next level.
The East Coast’s newest and largest indoor sports complex, the Virginia Beach Sports Center, opened in October 2020 with 285,000 square feet of space, including 12 basketball courts, 24 volleyball courts, a 200-meter hydraulically banked track and seating for 5,000 spectators.
One of Virginia Beach’s greatest assets is the wide, sandy beaches, ideal for a variety of outdoor sports, including soccer, beach volleyball, surfing, ocean swimming, Ultimate and marathon races.
With more than 35 multi-purpose fields, 11,000 hotel rooms and miles of beautiful public beaches on your side, Virginia Beach gives you the best so you can bring out yours. You’ll enjoy not only the full support of the team of sports marketing professionals – devoted to the details that make your event a success – but an entire network of hotels, restaurants, venues, attractions and services ready to pitch in. SDM