If the pandemic taught us nothing else, it was the importance of being flexible and remaining open to new ideas – not the least of which was venue selection. Even now, with travel sports surging again, it is essential to keep an open mind in terms when making site decisions.
A new city and a new venue can awaken increased interest in an event. It can bring new athletes to that area and can increase the likelihood of partnering with local organizations in order to obtain volunteers, officials, equipment and other resources. It can bring in the potential for new sponsorships and give a longstanding event a new freshness and appeal.
This article reviews some outstanding facilities in the U.S. If your event is looking for a new home – or if you’re just looking around – you’ll find plenty to consider here. Information is placed alphabetically by state for ease of use.
The Pacific Avenue Athletic Complex
The Pacific Avenue Athletic Complex (PAAC) is a state-of-the-art facility that is uniquely positioned to help tournaments get in front of a tremendously viable demographic. This sprawling 50-acre, multi-sport facility is perfect for youth or adult softball and baseball leagues and tournaments. The PAAC offers six lighted softball fields, to include a championship field. The complex offers onsite facilities, industrial kitchen with concessions, walking trail, pond and a playground for younger attendees. The venue has hosted national tournaments such as the National Junior College Athletic Association’s Championship tournament in 2021 and 2022, and this fall will be hosting the 2022 PG Southwest Super Regional NIT.
“The Pacific Avenue Athletic Complex is a valuable sports venue for local and visiting players, families, and friends. Locals love it due to the exceptional playing conditions and convenient location. Visitors love it for those same reasons, not to mention its amazing proximity to hotels, restaurants, shopping, and attractions. That, plus a top-notch maintenance team, courteous on-site staff, and the sunniest city in the world, all combine to make the PAAC one of the best places to play in the southwest,” says Eric Urfer, Director of Parks and Recreation, City of Yuma.
The Greater Boise Aquatic Centre
Nestled at the base of foothills, Boise is surrounded by rivers and lakes. Boiseans have always been drawn to the water. Soon, they will have a new place to swim: The Greater Boise Aquatic Centre (GBAC) with an eight-lane, Olympic-sized pool and six-lane, 25-yard warm-up pool.
This state-of-the-art aquatic center will provide athletes with more opportunities for competitive swimming. GBAC will be covered and operate year-round, featuring locker rooms, showers and a concession area for swimming competitions. USA Swimming clubs and high schools will practice and compete at the center.
The main pool can be set up as a single 50-meter course, two 25-meter courses, a 30-meter water polo course, a 20-lane short course (cross course), or run dual courses for larger swim meets with an eight-lane, 25-yard course and a 10-lane, 25-yard course running cross course.
GBAC is a short drive from Boise’s walkable downtown with award-winning restaurants, shops, entertainment, the Boise River and Basque Block. Paired with all Boise has to offer, swimming competitions at GBAC will be second to none.
The center will open in 2023 and is already booking events. Learn more at www.gbacswim.com.
Illinois: Champaign County
Rantoul Family Sports Complex
Welcoming nearly 750,000 athletes and fans in the 2022 season, the Rantoul Family Sports Complex continues to impress the sports planning world. With eight baseball/softball fields, two Little League/Challenger fields, and eight soccer/football/multi-purpose fields on 65 acres, the complex has hosted teams from over 250 miles away in its second year in business.
All turf surfaces and LED lighting on every field, alongside plenty of amenities, including large video boards, splashpad, concessions and meeting rooms make it an ideal choice for planners in the Midwest looking to draw teams across the region. The complex often hosts multiple tournaments across one weekend, maximizing the space while still providing superior customer service to all fans.
Centrally located between Chicago, St. Louis and Indianapolis, the Complex offers easy access to teams within just a few hours, with three interstates meeting in the area. Just a few miles north of Big Ten member, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, athletes and fans alike can enjoy the collegiate setting and the opportunity to explore the campus and athletic facilities during their visit.
Indiana: Hamilton County
Just north of Indianapolis, Hamilton County, Indiana is a premier destination for sporting events. In a community filled with top-notch venues, everyone from pee-wee to professional has a place to play.
Westfield’s Grand Park is a destination like no other. The thoughtfully designed 400-acre sports campus features an impressive lineup of playing space and amenities that make 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 top tier destination for year-round competition. Whether planning a youth event or a national championship, your 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 the Indy Eleven and Indiana Fire Juniors, and is the official home of the Indianapolis Colts Training Camp.
The dedicated team at Hamilton County Sports Authority offers tournament event planners an array of championship caliber venues and support services to ensure any event is a grand success.
Indiana: South Bend
Byers Softball Complex
Byers Softball Complex is one of the best facilities the Midwest has to offer. Open since 1997, Byers is easily accessible on the west side of South Bend. It is situated just minutes from South Bend International Airport, as well as several hotels and the attractions and restaurants in downtown South Bend.
The complex features five well-maintained diamonds, four of which have lights, a full concession stand, bleachers and more. Over the years, the venue has hosted numerous USA Softball, United States Specialty Sports Association and Amateur Softball Association events. The U.S. Women’s Olympic softball team has visited Byers multiple times.
As a reflection of its ability to host top-notch events, Byers has been awarded the James Farrell Award of Excellence 15 times.
New Jersey: Wildwood
Wildwoods Convention Center
The Wildwoods Convention Center, a modern 260,000-square-foot, multi-purpose facility located right on the beach and world-famous Wildwoods Boardwalk, hosts more than 150 events annually and is home to scores of signature events, conventions, meetings, youth sports tournaments and sporting competitions, professional sporting events, trade shows and expos, and more.
The Convention Center is equipped with a 75,000-square-foot arena with 30-foot-high unobstructed ceilings (configurable into two 37,500-square-foot separate areas); 30,000 square feet of lobby and pre-function space; 10 meeting rooms, state-of-the-art sound/lighting systems; free Wi-Fi, maximum capacity of 7,500 seats; and amazing beach and ocean views from nearly every angle. Right outside the doors is the world-famous Wildwoods Boardwalk.
From basketball and gymnastics tournaments; to regional dance and cheerleading championships; to wrestling and mixed martial arts competitions; when it comes to sporting events, planners, participants and parents alike love the Wildwoods Convention Center. The Wildwoods Convention Center hosts sporting events and tournaments ranging from youth wrestling, cheerleading and basketball, to gymnastics, soccer and volleyball, plus the Harlem Globetrotters and WWE.
The Convention Center can accommodate events up to 5,000 competitors with ease. Add in over 8,000 hotel/motel rooms and 3,000 vacation rentals available at attractive off-season rates. The Wildwoods Convention Center is conveniently located near New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, DC with access to one-third of the U.S. population within a 300-mile radius.
North Carolina: Rocky Mount
Rocky Mount Event Center
Tournament season 2022 at Eastern North Carolina’s Premier Sports and Entertainment Venue, the Rocky Mount Event Center, has just wrapped up with hosting 20 headlining sports events for the year. The 165,000-square-foot multi-use venue located in downtown Rocky Mount welcomed over 60,000 guests from various states such as Illinois, Florida, New York, Washington D.C., Tennessee, Georgia, Maryland and more. The state-of-the-art venue has already contributed over $10 million in economic impact for the year 2022, which is already an increase from $7 million for the entire year of 2021.
The versatile venue has over 75,000 flexible square feet of playing space in the Field House that houses eight basketball courts or 16 volleyball courts and includes the option of 50-foot x 94-foot master event or championship court, able to seat over 3,500 guests. To enjoy all of the action of the volleyball tournaments, basketball tournaments, gymnastics events, cheer and dance competitions and more, guests have the option of convening in the second-story mezzanine for the best view in the venue.
To sports, corporate events, weddings, in-house catering and a family entertainment center, Game Day, the Rocky Mount Event Center has everything to give guests an unparalleled experience. Event owners seeking information or to book events can visits rockymountevents.com.
Pennsylvania: Johnstown Cambria
1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial
Historically, 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial is known as the home of the legendary film, “Slap Shot.” Today, the arena remains one of the top venues in the Johnstown region for not only hockey, but a variety of other sports and entertainment events. The 4,000-seat arena successfully hosts wrestling, volleyball, basketball, martial arts, cheerleading and even dirt bike racing.
The arena offers suite seating, a warm-up area, concessions, and a “Stars and Stripes” room with a private bar and seating. Because the arena serves as a memorial to local war veterans, spectators can visit the indoor veterans’ museum which houses an impressive display of uniforms, original photos and memorabilia.
1st Summit Arena is located in the heart of Downtown Johnstown. The arena is a short walk to two hotels, dozens of restaurants, unique shops and the City’s Central Park. Parking is available on city streets as well as nearby parking garages. The Frank J. Pasquerilla Conference Center is conveniently located across the street from the arena, allowing for easy collaboration between the two venues.
Other attractions near 1st Summit Arena include: The Johnstown Inclined Plane, Johnstown Flood Museum, Sargent’s Stadium at the Point and the Heritage Discovery Center.
Pennsylvania: Valley Forge
The Proving Grounds
The Proving Grounds, a regional multi-sport complex, hosts soccer, field hockey, lacrosse, rugby, baseball and football tournaments and leagues. For over 10 years, professional and pickup leagues across Montgomery County, Pennsylvania have taken advantage of the competition-level synthetic turf fields. The Proving Grounds’ synthetic turf was manufactured and installed using the latest technology and provides unlimited play year-round on a safe and durable field. All eight of the outdoor fields are equipped with lights and are striped for men’s and women’s athletics. Outdoor fields are available for team or league rentals, as well as tournament play.
The Proving Grounds boasts more than 80 acres of outdoor space to host tournaments. The 10,000-square-foot indoor turf facility is equipped with netting, a scoreboard and movable batting tunnels. The indoor field is climate controlled to meet all sporting needs all year long.
Valley Forge Sports and Eastern Youth Soccer recently announced the 2023 US Youth Soccer Eastern Presidents Cup is set to be hosted at both the Proving Grounds and a regional high school in June 2023. This five-day tournament is part of a national competition, and one of four regional events with winners advancing to the U.S. Youth Soccer National Presidents Cup. For additional information, visit www.valleyforgesports.org.
York, Pennsylvania is Pennsylvania’s premier sports destination. Nestled in the scenic heart of south-central Pennsylvania, York County provides nearly 4,000 hotel rooms, farm-fresh dining, and locally made artisan goods. From the famous York Peppermint Pattie to the world-class York Barbell, York County offers the perfect escape after long days at the ball field or sports complex.
York County is easily accessible from Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia, New York and Pittsburgh. Memorial Park Complex, just one of the many sports facilities, is a 72-acre municipal park with eight softball fields and four sand volleyball courts. The complex recently added new fencing and installed on-field lighting. A skate park, batting cage, concession stand, miniature golf and two picnic pavilions round out the list of in-park amenities.
Sport York provides event services and event support from an online housing bureau to staffed hospitality booths, welcome bags to promotional support, community support to RFP coordination and so much more. Event owners are invited to contact Sport York today and host their next event in York, Pennsylvania.
South Carolina: Florence
Florence Soccer Complex
The City of Florence, South Carolina is proud to be home to the Florence Soccer Complex. With its convenient location right off Interstate 95 and close proximity to Interstate 20, the Florence Soccer Complex is the perfect location for events. This complex consists of 10 championship soccer fields with two of those fields containing lights; there is additional space to add more fields within the next few years.
The complex is also home to two bathroom complexes, a 6,000-square-foot pavilion, and a two-mile walking trail. The Pavilion building includes concessions facilities, storage, a trainer’s room, an official’s room, two offices and a conference room with a kitchenette.
Not only is the Florence Soccer Complex able to be used for soccer, but its spacious layout and walking trail allow for multi-sport usage. The complex has been the host site for flag football and Ultimate tournaments. Local athletes have done cross country training at the complex since it offers a variety of terrain (grass, gravel, sand, hills) in a safe environment. Whether it is soccer, flag football, Ultimate or many other grass sports, the Florence Soccer Complex is the perfect spot to hold an event.
Legends Event Center
Located in the Birthplace of Aggieland, Bryan, Texas’ Legends Event Center is a multi-purpose indoor family sports and entertainment facility. Legends Event Center will draw events from throughout Texas expanding into the southwest region.
This facility will encompass numerous amenities including eight basketball courts that convert to 16 volleyball courts, concessions and a catering kitchen, meeting and hospitality areas, a full arcade, and esports center. Legends Event Center is a member of the SF Network, the nation’s largest and fastest growing network of sports facilities and is operated by the industry-leader in outsourced operations, The Sports Facilities Companies.
The 65,000-square-foot court can be configured to accommodate a diverse number of events from volleyball, basketball, cheer and dance competitions, futsal, pickleball and many other indoor sporting events simultaneously. Each court boasts a state-of-the-art LED Scoreboard, lightweight and portable bleachers, as well as wireless fiber internet access.
Positioned in the heart of the “Texas Triangle,” being less than a three-hour drive from each of the largest metro areas in the state, and just an eight-minute drive from Texas A&M University, Legends Event Center is the ideal location for any sports event in Texas. SDM