With colored lights shining brightly, video boards illuminated and music playing, softball teams are being announced by a DJ and making their way onto the stage at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center, one by one. Fog rises at times.
This energetic scene serves as a welcome to Wicomico County, Maryland, for hundreds of United States Specialty Sports Association Eastern World Series players and their families. The following day, the girls’ softball teams will start playing games in Wicomico County, including at the Henry S. Parker Athletic Complex and at other locations on Maryland’s Lower Eastern Shore.
In spring 2017, Wicomico County Recreation, Parks & Tourism started a $3 million expansion project at the 41-acre Henry S. Parker Athletic Complex, replacing an existing field’s infield with synthetic turf. New dugouts and bullpens were also constructed for this field, and batting cages will be added nearby.
Three more diamonds – each with a full-size synthetic turf infield – are under construction as part of the expansion. By spring 2018, there will be eight playable baseball/softball fields at this location. New sidewalks and signage will also be in place. Built among trees, the facility is well-shaded.
“It’s important for us to continue to grow and improve our facilities so that we can offer tournament and event organizers exactly what they’re looking for to have successful events,” says James Simmons, recreation superintendent for Wicomico County Recreation, Parks & Tourism.
Beautiful Area, Welcoming Community
The USSSA Eastern World Series, which recently completed its 11th summer in Wicomico County, is now the largest softball world series in one location. It isn’t the only national event that has chosen the Henry S. Parker Athletic Complex as its home base. Beginning in 2018, the facility will also become a new location for the Youth Baseball Nationals produced by Athletx.
Athletx CEO and co-founder Jim Haddaway was impressed when he saw the new turf field at the Henry S. Parker Athletic Complex this spring.
“This turf looks beautiful, the surrounding area is gorgeous, you’re close to the beach — it has everything that we look for in a destination and we can’t be more than thrilled to bring our event here,” Haddaway said.
Located perfectly between the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay, Wicomico County is an ideal place for families to enjoy while in the area for tournaments and other sporting events.
Wicomico County is not just a beautiful Mid-Atlantic location, it’s a convenient one. Wicomico County is less than a three-and-a-half-hour drive for 25 percent of the U.S. population and within two-and-a-half hours of Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia.
It’s a welcoming community, too, said Kristen Goller, tourism manager for Wicomico County.
“When events come to town, you see a lot of messages on the marquees and storefronts, welcoming teams and visitors,” she says. “People get really excited here when tournaments are in town. They have a sense of ownership in helping to make the experience excellent for visiting athletes, fans and families. It’s such a great response by the community.”
This enthusiasm translates into finding plenty of volunteers in the community willing to help out visiting tournament owners and organizers.
Wicomico County also has a strong relationship and partnership with Maryland Sports and neighboring regions.
“Through the Mid-Atlantic Amateur Sports Alliance, which we founded with our neighbors in Ocean City and Worcester County, we can work together in partnership to accommodate events that might be too large for Wicomico County alone to handle,” Goller says.
A Transformative Venue
The same Wicomico Youth & Civic Center arena that is used for the softball players parading in during opening ceremonies fills with high school basketball fans and families each December for the Governor’s Challenge high school basketball tournament.
It’s now the largest holiday basketball tournament in the nation, and in 2017, 124 teams are slated to compete.
The venue has also been a longstanding host of the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Association’s Eastern Nationals, a 15-mat event that brings in more than 1,200 wrestlers who range in age from five to adult. Last year, the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center hosted the AAU 8-and-Under National Championships for boys’ basketball. It also hosts large volleyball events, and cheer and dance events fit nicely into the venue.
“From opening ceremonies to basketball tournaments to monster truck shows, there’s always something different happening at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center,” Goller said. “The arena is able to transform to meet the needs of events.”
The look of the building has been transformed, too. The Wicomico Youth & Civic Center recently completed a $3 million renovation that included new seats and other changes, along with a new color scheme and flooring in the meeting rooms, lobbies and corridors.
Home to the Delmarva Shorebirds, a Class A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, the 5,000-seat Arthur W. Perdue Stadium has benefited from a number of improvements over the past year, including new seating and new video boards. Last season, the field was completely rebuilt, including adding new drainage, which now can clear 24 inches of rain within two hours.
Wicomico County is also home to Salisbury University, a Division III institution. Completed in the spring of 2016, the $19 million Sea Gull Stadium is ideal for football, field hockey, soccer and lacrosse. It includes a new turf field, a video scoreboard and permanent seating.
The $3.2 million Sea Gull Softball Stadium opened in March and features permanent seating for 500 fans, heated dugouts, a large press box, bullpens, four batting cages, new scoreboard and more. The skinned field now has artificial turf in the outfield, too.
“Wicomico County is a location that has it all,” Goller says. “We invite you to explore our scenic County and find a home for your event here.” SDM
Want to learn more about Wicomico County?
Contact Sports Marketing Representative Stan Adams at 1-800-332-8687 or email@example.com. Also Visit www.WicoSports.org.
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