Your Home-Field Advantage Starts Here
26 Sep, 2017By: Mary Helen Sprecher
Much has been written about home base and home-field advantage. What about when you’re looking for all that in a home away from home? If your sports event is seeking out new grounds for competition, it’s always helpful to have a few recommendations; after all, the number of venues out there can be blinding.
Enter SDM’s Industry Leadership series. This time, we’re focusing on Outstanding Venues around the U.S. And whether your event plays out on a diamond, on a field, on a court or in a pool, there are some excellent options on the following pages. We hope you’ll take the time to explore and learn about them – and ultimately, that you’ll find a new home for your event.
All venues are presented alphabetically by state, to make your search easier.
Choccolocco Park leads the industry with its new 300-plus acre, one-of-a-kind sports complex in Oxford, Alabama. This venue offers cutting-edge baseball, softball, track & field and soccer amenities, along with educational, walking and biking trails, playgrounds, water and natural resources and more.
The sports facility boasts a five-field softball complex, four-field softball/baseball complex, signature baseball field, signature softball field, soccer fields and a track & field complex.
The park features a Boundless Playground (handicap accessible), lighted parking and restrooms. All these amenities are found alongside the beautiful 30-acre lake with two pavilions, and a 2.7-mile walking trail. The interpretive trail winds through what was once the 19th Century Muscogee (Creek) Nation town of Choccolocco.
Located on I-20, midway between Atlanta, Georgia and Birmingham, Alabama, Choccolocco Park is easy to find and convenient to shopping, dining and lodging. Athletes, their families and friends are only minutes from 80 restaurants, 221 retail stores and 20 hotels.
Choccolocco Park was named the National High School Baseball Field of the Year 2017 and has hosted collegiate championships and the Dixie Youth Baseball World Series AAA, Majors and “O”Zone 2017.
For more information about Choccolocco Sports Complex & Recreation Park, go to www.choccoloccopark.com or call 256-342-0174.
Orange County Great Park Sports Park
The first 53-acre phase of the Orange County Great Park Sports Park in Irvine, California, opened in August. The centerpiece of the first phase of the Sports Park is a state-of-the-art championship soccer stadium with capacity for 5,000 fans.
Also part of phase one: 25 hard-surface tennis courts, six natural turf soccer fields and five sand volleyball courts. Both the tennis and volleyball centers include championship courts with fixed seating for more than 100 spectators each. A one-acre playground tops off the first phase.
Once complete, the 194-acre Sports Park is planned to include a dedicated softball complex with five fields, including a championship stadium and four batting cages, a baseball complex with seven baseball fields, also including a championship stadium and four batting cages, plus four basketball courts, six more soccer fields and “flex fields” that can be used for soccer, rugby, cricket and lacrosse. In addition, a 270,000-square-foot ice facility featuring three National Hockey League standard ice rinks and one Olympic size, to include a 2.500-seat arena, is scheduled to open in 2018.
The Sports Park is on track to become one of the largest public multi-sport facilities in California and one of the largest in the United States.
Big League Dreams Sports Park
Kids and adults feel like they’re playing in the Big Leagues by taking in similar views that legends Babe Ruth or Ted Williams had at Big League Dreams Sports Park in Redding, California.
Conveniently located off Highway 44, just five miles east of I-5, the 30-acre complex features scaled-down replicas of Boston’s Fenway Park, New York’s Yankee Stadium, Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field, and two other fields that mirror notable minor league ballparks in the Midwest.
The five all-weather turf fields contain electronic scoreboards, lights and stadium seating to accommodate youth baseball, youth fast-pitch softball and adult slow-pitch softball.
The park also includes batting cages, outdoor sand volleyball courts, the Stadium Club restaurant and a 20,000-square foot field house available for indoor soccer, hockey or basketball leagues and tournaments.
In between games, athletes and their families can explore exciting attractions such as the Lake Shasta Caverns, Lassen Volcanic National Park, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, Shasta Lake, Shasta Dam, Waterworks Park and the Redding Soccer Park.
Redding is the sunniest city in California at over 300 days of sunshine per year, making it an ideal spot to host any sports event. Contact the Redding Convention & Visitors Bureau Sports Commissioner Sabrina Jurisich at 530-225-4103.
Florida: Vero Beach
Championships teams are built at Historic Dodgertown. Each year more than one thousand professional, collegiate and youth teams come from around the world to enjoy an all-inclusive experience where they can stay, train and play together on a beautiful 80-acre campus.
For 60 years, Dodgertown was the Spring Training home of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers. More than 140 Hall of Famers have played on its fields or visited as guests. Any team members can be assured they are walking in the footsteps of greatness.
Historic Dodgertown’s state-of-the-art, multi-sports training complex and conference center features 10-½ fields including a fastpitch softball quad, multi-purpose field, five baseball fields and the iconic Holman Stadium. Additional amenities include a Major League clubhouse facility, 14,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, dining room, recreational and fitness facilities, lounge and 89 hotel villa rooms. The venue caters to sports teams, corporate groups and families for reunions.
Baseball, softball, football, soccer, lacrosse and rugby teams will also find a home in Dodgertown, and water sports teams can travel in for land training in the venue’s Major League-designed fitness rooms. Even for corporate groups, the conference center is fully equipped for team-building meetings and retreats, all in a distraction-free setting.
At Historic Dodgertown, history is everywhere, providing the inspiration for any team’s success today.
Florida: Lake County
Hickory Point Park
Hickory Point Park is a 68-acre multi-use facility located northwest of Orlando in Tavares, Florida. The complex serves as the perfect host for water sports, fishing tournaments, beach volleyball and field sports.
Hickory Point is home to Hickory Point Beach Sand Volleyball Complex, Florida’s largest permanent sand volleyball complex with 21 lighted sand volleyball courts. Operated by the Florida Region of USA Volleyball, Hickory Point Beach hosts international, national, collegiate and amateur competitions year-round. In 2018, Lake County is scheduled to begin construction of a 4,000-square-foot fieldhouse with concessions, restrooms, locker rooms, meeting space and more that will serve as an added amenity for the growing calendar of events.
The Mike Stone Soccer Complex at Hickory Point Park is a six-field complex that can be utilized for soccer, lacrosse, rugby and more. Event organizers can enjoy “Real Florida, Real Close” hospitality at the award-winning Mission Inn Resort and Club, located just three miles from the fields.
The Hickory Point boat ramp facility is the largest freshwater complex in Florida and is centrally located on the Harris Chain of Lakes, which hosts premier bass fishing tournaments such as FLW Tour, Bass Pro Shops Big Bass Tour, Bassmaster Southern Opens and the Bassmaster Elite Series.
Cooper Creed Tennis Center
Cooper Creek Tennis Center features 57 courts in one location, which makes it the largest public clay court facility in the United States. Recognized as a USTA Facility of the Year, this multi-surface facility consists of 39 clay courts and 18 DecoTurf hard courts, four of which are 60-foot junior courts. The center is surrounded by a city park with walking trails, picnic areas and playgrounds.
During visitors’ down time, there are opportunities to tour the awe-inspiring National Infantry Museum, the National Civil War Naval Museum and the Coca-Cola Space Science Center, raft the longest urban whitewater course in the world, zipline over the river to Alabama and back or take advantage of the area’s 22-mile Riverwalk on the banks of the beautiful Chattahoochee River. Columbus is home of some of the best barbecue in the country, but when hunger strikes, there’s no shortage of other palate-pleasing choices, too. If shopping is on the to-do list, the Chattahoochee Valley offers a cornucopia of nationally recognized stores complemented by unique local boutiques.
Columbus, Georgia, just 90 minutes south of Atlanta, is the place for that upcoming event. T.E.A.M. Columbus will assure a top-notch experience. For more information, visit ColumbusGaSports.com.
Illinois: Chicago Northwest
Schaumburg Convention Center
The Schaumburg Convention Center, an ideal destination for cheer and dance, mat and court events, is the powerhouse facility in the Midwest with abundant free parking.
This 100,000-square-foot state-of-the-art convention center features pillar-free space, 30-foot ceilings, 120 feet of covered dock space, a 19,000-square-foot flexible foyer, in-hall concessions and Wi-Fi access throughout.
Grants and incentives make the Schaumburg Convention Center an attractive Illinois destination. Events, new to Illinois, may qualify for assistance to bring it to Schaumburg.
Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel is seamlessly connected to the Convention Center offering 474 guest rooms, 26 spacious suites and an additional 48,000 square feet of meeting space including a 27,500-square-foot ballroom. Additionally, over 4,500 hotel rooms are available within a short drive of the convention center, offering attendees price and brand flexibility.
The convention center’s location at the crosswords of major highways and minutes from O’Hare International Airport provides attendees easy access. Metra rail lines can transport sightseers to downtown Chicago within minutes to enjoy the city’s landmark architecture, the remarkable museums and parks and its stunning lakefront.
Dining, entertainment and shopping abound with over 100 restaurants within a five-minute drive from the Schaumburg Convention Center anchored with world-class shopping at Woodfield Mall.
Contact Melinda Garritano, CSEE – sports account executive, Meet Chicago Northwest, 847-490-1010, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Indiana: South Bend Mishawaka
Compton Family Ice Arena
Located on the southern edge of the historic Notre Dame campus, the Compton Family Ice Arena is a long touchdown pass from the newly renovated Notre Dame football stadium. Opened in 2011, the arena houses two ice rinks. The main arena has 5,000 seats and an NHL-size sheet of ice where the Notre Dame hockey team plays its home games. The Olympic-size rink can be divided into two smaller rinks and is used for youth hockey tournaments, open skates, figure skating, broomball and the ever-popular Olympic sport, curling. This state-of-the-art facility is among the best venues in all of sports and has even been ranked “Best Sporting Experience in the Country” according to Stadium Journey.
The Visit South Bend Mishawaka team can assist planners every step of the way in mastering their sporting event, with help in venue selection, online housing system, securing hotel room blocks and much more.
Contact Nick Kleva, sports market development manager, at email@example.com or by phone 574-400-4021, with any questions. For more information, go to visitsouthbend.com.
Kansas: Kansas City
CommunityAmerica Ballpark is home to the Kansas City T-Bones Minor League professional baseball team. There’s no bad seat at CommunityAmerica Ballpark with 6,500-plus seats, and the furthest seat is only 50 feet from the field of play. Fans don’t miss a thing, from the crack of the bat to the hum of a fastball. There’s also a center field party area, suites, party decks and a kids’ play area with a concession stand just for kids.
In addition to CommunityAmerica Ballpark hosting high school and collegiate regional baseball tournaments, it has been home to other types of sporting events such as the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) season games. It was home to the MLS Sporting KC soccer team for three years while that team’s stadium was being built. It has hosted youth soccer, lacrosse, MMA, kickboxing events, dog competition shows and concerts over the past 10 years.
The stadium is located in the heart of the Village West district which includes numerous hotels, restaurants, entertainment venues and shopping. The stadium is conveniently 15 minutes from the KCI Airport.
Thanks to several community-minded business leaders and city officials, Salina has opened a new downtown $9 million multi-use sports facility. The Salina Fieldhouse opened July 13. Located in the center of the United States at the crossroads of Interstates 70 and 135, the venue features 65,000 square feet of multi-purpose space designed specifically to handle sporting events.
The layout features three hardwood and three synthetic (six total) basketball courts, which convert into eight volleyball courts. This space can also transform into a 20,000-square-foot turf area. Drop-down batting cages, pitching tunnels and a golf net are just a few of the diverse offerings at the Fieldhouse. Basketball, volleyball, cheer, kickball, wrestling, soccer and futsal are some of many activities the Fieldhouse can accommodate.
The Salina Fieldhouse project has inspired the beginnings of the Salina Downtown Development Project, which will include a revitalization of a 28-block area. Plans for development include a 120-room, five-story hotel, bowling alley/indoor fun center, car museum and major chain restaurant, as well as major changes to the streetscape.
“Our calendar is open, and there has never been a better time to reserve a date for an event!” states Tiffany Benien, Visit Salina sports manager.
For more about Salina contact Tiffany at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The CAJUNDOME is an acclaimed landmark of the city of Lafayette and is home to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns basketball team. The $64 million newly renovated facility is loaded with special features and is versatile enough to host everything from concerts and sporting events to touring shows and much more. Recently, the CAJUNDOME hosted the National Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions that saw 2,000 attendees over the course of seven days of premier boxing competitions.
The sports facility offers an outstanding arena area with 40,000 square feet of floor space, seating capacities of 13,000 for general session, 8,481 for half house and 300 for full-service banquet. Booth amenities include a variety of power outlets and telephone hookups, with special exhibitor amenities available upon request. There are dual oversize load in doors, a full-service kitchen and onsite catering by award-winning Artisan Catering. Courtyard space is available for parties and there is ground-level free parking.
Additional space includes 11 meeting rooms and eight dressing rooms. The CAJUNDOME has complete house audio and intercom systems and onsite technology provided by WOW Technology. For added convenience, connected to the CAJUNDOME is the Convention Center offering an additional 80,000 square feet of meeting space over two levels.
The CAJUNDOME is located two and a half miles from Interstate 10. More information is available from Pam Deville at email@example.com, call 337-265-2100 or see www.cajundome.com.
Outdoor Sports Parks
When it comes to enjoying outdoor activities, Ridgeland is wide open. The city covers a 17-mile area that features sports parks, the Natchez Trace Parkway, a 14-mile, multi-use trail and the 33,000-acre Ross Barnett Reservoir.
There are two major sports parks operated by the Ridgeland Recreation and Parks Department. In addition to tournaments for tennis, soccer, baseball and softball, visitors enjoy the biking and walking trails, playgrounds and pavilions.
Freedom Ridge Park, a 50-acre state-of-the-art athletic facility at 235 West School Street, is conveniently located near Interstate 55 in central Mississippi. The park features four lighted adult regulation softball fields, four lighted regulation soccer fields, four picnic pavilions, two playgrounds, two concession/restroom buildings, a lighted walking trail and a maintenance facility.
Wolcott Park, a 40-acre athletic facility, is located on McClellan Drive, off Highway 51. It features seven lighted baseball/softball fields, a playground, 14 batting cages, two bullpens, two concession/restroom buildings and a maintenance facility.
The Ridgeland Tourism Commission has a staff dedicated to assist.
Ridgeland offers conveniently located accommodations for sports teams, an abundance of dining options and Mississippi’s finest shopping. From the game to the good times, Ridgeland is a winning combination, inside and out. See www.visitridgeland.com.
North Carolina: Greenville
North Recreational Complex
The North Recreational Complex is located just 10 minutes from East Carolina University’s main campus and the Uptown Greenville District’s many independently owned restaurants, cafes and breweries. With eight state-of-the-art, lighted multi-purpose fields of gorgeous Bermudagrass, including one championship field and two warm-up areas, the NRC is designed to accommodate a variety of athletic tournaments and events, including the Division II Southern Rugby Regional Championship, the Division I Ultimate Carolina Conference Championship, the 11th Annual Club LAX Tournament, the 2017 NIRSA Soccer Regional Championship and more.
The NRC field house provides a concession stand, covered seating, plenty of restrooms, equipment storage areas and ample parking. The six-acre lake is perfect for relaxing and enjoying fishing, kayaking and SUP boarding, while its beaches offer space for sunbathing, beach volleyball, cornhole and fitness equipment.
The NRC also boasts a challenging 18-hole disc golf course, six walking trails and a 5K running trail. The Odyssey High Challenge Course at NRC spans 120 feet, with eight different high elements of up to 40 feet, along with two 300-foot zip lines. The NRC offers plenty of great options for events, and down time for both players and spectators.
North Carolina: Raleigh
Cary Tennis Park
Cary Tennis Park is considered one of the premier tennis complexes in the United States. Any tennis lover would be in awe of this scenic facility, which is as functional as it is massive, nestled in the thriving town of Cary, North Carolina. It features 29 courts, including one stadium court, four permanent 36-foot QuickStart Courts and all the necessary amenities. Now the venue is also prepared for inclement weather with the addition of seven post-tensioned concrete courts that are covered for year-round play.
This world-class complex has successfully hosted high-profile championships (including many USTA, NCAA and ACC events). On top of the features and conveniences offered at Cary Tennis Park, the staff is made up of tennis professionals, ready to provide superior service to all who visit.
“For most rights holders, the single biggest factor in selecting a site is the quality of the venue. We are fortunate here in Greater Raleigh to have a slew of world-class facilities, and Cary Tennis Park is a classic example of that,” said Scott Dupree, executive director of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance.
Owned and operated by the Town of Cary, the 24-acre Cary Tennis Park is a crown jewel in the tennis world.
North Carolina: Winston-Salem
JDL Fast Track
Located in Winston-Salem and one of the premier indoor track and field facilities of the Southeast, JDL Fast Track houses a 200-meter oval track with Mondotrack FTX surface, the same surface used at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
JDL has hosted four national championships since opening in 2012 and slated to host the 2021 NCAA Division III men’s and women’s indoor track championships. With a seating capacity of 1,700, 10 HD televisions showing real-time field event results and five high-definition projector screens for video playback, JDL Fast Track offers a state-of-the-art track and field experience.
The Visit Winston-Salem team assists sports organizers and event planners in selecting the best venues, coordinating housing accommodations and providing a comprehensive database of dedicated volunteers.
More information is available by contacting Bonny Bernat, senior sports & events sales manager for Visit Winston-Salem at Bonny@VisitWinstonSalem.com, or on her direct phone number 336-728-4215. You can learn more at VisitWinstonSalem.com/Sports.
Pennsylvania: Clearfield County
City of DuBois Baseball and Softball Facilities
The City of DuBois in Pennsylvania is the new premier location in the Northeast for hosting baseball and softball events.
Softball Complex: The new complex will open March 2018. The project is called a “Miracle Field” as it has the ability to be for used by youth with disabilities. The Pittsburgh Pirates Charities made a $100,000 grant to the City of DuBois to support the initiative to provide recreational sports opportunities to all youth. The playing surface will be 100 percent turf and the field will be softball college-level dimensions.
Showers Field (baseball): With the capability to hold almost 1,200 fans for a single baseball event, Showers Field gives fans a multitude of seating options close to the action, including a grandstand, bleacher seating, standing room areas and a luxury VIP suite box. The field will be 100 percent turf starting this March, allowing for a pristine playing surface and for efficient drainage during any rain delay without compromising the quality of play afterward. The technology is at a Minor League Baseball level for a fun game-day experience for fans and the dimensions bring a unique “old school” ballpark feel. See www.visitclearfieldcounty.org.
Presque Isle State Park
Presque Isle State Park is Erie’s natural gem and most notable tourist attraction. Not only does it provide families with a great vacation spot, it’s perfect for many types of sporting events. The 3,200-acre forested peninsula juts into Lake Erie and boasts 25 miles of flat recreational trails (11 for hiking and 14 multi-purpose), four boat launch areas and seven miles of sandy beaches, which were voted the top freshwater beaches in the country by a USA TODAY Readers’ Choice poll in 2016.
On average, Presque Isle hosts 90 sports events each year. The peninsula forms Presque Isle Bay, creating a unique, protected space that provides the perfect atmosphere for competitive fishing events (not to mention, Lake Erie is consistently named one of the top bass lakes in the country). The flat terrain of Presque Isle is perfect for cycling and running events, with a natural paved half marathon course already existing within the park. Events recently hosted by the Erie Sports Commission at Presque Isle include USA Volleyball Junior Beach Tour, Soccer in the Sand, The Biggest Loser Race Series and American Bass Anglers Area Championship.
The venue is also popular for recreational tourists who enjoy a plethora of activities at Presque Isle year-round, including its beaches and kayaking in the summer, and ice fishing and cross country skiing in the winter. More than four million people visit Presque Isle each year.
For more information, visit eriesportscommission.com.
Texas: Fort Worth
Dickies Arena will be a spectacular 14,000-seat, multi-purpose venue located adjacent to the Will Rogers Memorial Center campus in Fort Worth, Texas. The facility is the result of a pioneering public-private partnership between the City of Fort Worth, Tarrant County, the State of Texas and a group of private-sector participants, including foundations, individuals and organizations.
The arena will be owned by the City of Fort Worth and managed by the not-for-profit operating entity, Multipurpose Arena Fort Worth (MAFW). The state-of-the-art arena, scheduled to open in November 2019, will host concerts, sporting events and family entertainment, and will be the new home to Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo performances. More information is available by visiting www.DickiesArena.com.
Texas: Round Rock
Round Rock Multipurpose Complex
Round Rock carries the title of Sports Capital of Texas, and a brand new Multipurpose Complex will boost the city’s athletic reputation even more. The Round Rock Multipurpose Complex offers 10 versatile outdoor fields on 60 acres of open space to accommodate all varieties of sports lover.
Players love the new landmark facility that provides configurations for every outdoor sport including rugby, football, soccer, Ultimate and more. Located in Old Settlers Park, the complex offers 10 fields: four natural grass multi-purpose fields, one natural grass championship field, four synthetic turf multi-purpose fields, and one synthetic turf championship field.
Spectators appreciate official Musco sports lighting on all 10 fields at night, permanent seating with shade structures during the day, and over 900 parking spaces for convenient access. The Round Rock Multipurpose Complex also provides an all-star view from the clubhouse, with meeting rooms overlooking the fields.
Every player, fan and family will find something to love at the new Round Rock Multipurpose Complex Additional amenities include playgrounds, plazas, pavilions and more.
For more information, visit SportsCapitalofTexas.com or contact Nancy Yawn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-218-7094.
Embrey Mill Park
Embrey Mill Park in Stafford, Virginia, offers an excellent venue for rectangular field sports, including youth soccer, lacrosse, field hockey and football. The multi-sport field complex includes six synthetic turf lighted rectangular fields and two lighted Bermudagrass fields.
The new Embrey Mill Park has been designed with families in mind because the complex also includes a playground, a concession stand, a large parking area and restrooms. It is located just off I-95 and next to the new Jeff Rouse Swim and Sport Center. Over 4,500 hotel rooms serve the region and their rates are family-friendly. Stafford is also home to all the nationally known restaurants that families love.
Stafford County is located along I-95, just 40 miles south of Washington, D.C., in the heart of one of the nation’s most historic regions. More than 60 percent of the nation’s population lives within a day’s drive.
The county’s outstanding sports venues, accommodations, local attractions and relative affordability, combined with its proximity to the nation’s capital and popular tourism attractions, make it a sure bet for sports events.
More information is available from Lisa Logan, manager, Stafford Department of Tourism, 540-658-4580, email@example.com. SDM