Sports Facilities and Family Attractions Make Sevierville Worth the Trip | Sports Destination Management

Sports Facilities and Family Attractions Make Sevierville Worth the Trip

Mar 01, 2024 | By: Michael Popke
Sevierville, Tennessee

Photo courtesy of Sevierville Convention & Visitors Bureau

When you talk about Sevierville, Tennessee, there is no shortage of storylines. Situated near the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the hometown of Dolly Parton, this city of about 20,000 residents offers several top-line attractions and major sports facilities capable of hosting everything from volleyball, baseball, tennis and pickleball events to cheer/dance competitions to golf tournaments and table tennis championships.

“Rightsholders choose Sevierville because of all the activities available for their attendees to enjoy while they are here,” says Tony Funderburg, director of sales and advertising for the Sevierville Convention & Visitors Bureau and the city’s Chamber of Commerce. “We are also an easy area to get to for most of the U.S. population.”

Indeed, Sevierville’s eastern Tennessee location is within a day’s drive for many participants in the tournaments and events the city hosts.

“When you look at the community as a whole, there are a lot of opportunities to explore at different venues,” adds Amanda Marr, director of marketing and communications for the Sevierville CVB and Chamber of Commerce. “And the thing that’s so cool is that everything’s surrounded by all these activities and great places to stay — lots of things the family can enjoy together. When you’re traveling a lot for sports, it’s nice to play a tournament in a place that’s also a great vacation spot.”

Sevierville checks the sports facility boxes with the Sevierville Convention Center, a pair of championship 18-hole courses at the Sevierville Golf Club, Sevierville City Park and Smokies Stadium. Prime attractions include the famous Dolly Parton Statue in Downtown Sevierville, Great Smoky Mountains National Park and many more.

“Sevierville has been attracting developers for several years now, since the early nineties,” Marr says. “Our market performs well for businesses, and we’ve become a destination that always has something new going on.”

What follows is a rundown of some of the venues and attractions that make Sevierville an ideal host city and extended vacation spot.

Sports Facilities

Photo courtesy of Sevierville Convention & Visitors Bureau
Photo courtesy of Sevierville Convention & Visitors Bureau 

One of Sevierville’s most versatile venues is the Sevierville Convention Center, which can accommodate up to 21 volleyball courts and frequently hosts gymnastics and competitive arts events such as cheer and dance.

“That facility was built with competitive arts in mind,” Marr says. “The developers really focused on high ceilings, flexible spaces and many other things to make it appealing to dance and cheer groups.”

Major events planned at the convention center in 2024 include multiple K2 Volleyball tournaments, the Smoky Mountain Gymnastics Vacation Classic, the American Royale Sevierville Nationals 2024 Cheerleading Competition and a stop on the Nextstar National Talent Competition 2024 Regional Tour.

The opening of the convention center in 2007 helped jumpstart Sevierville’s sports tourism strategy, Marr says, and the Sevierville Golf Club is another key component of that. The facility’s two championship golf courses — one winding through rolling foothills and the other running along the Little Pigeon River — regularly welcome tournaments, including the 2024 American Junior Golf Association Preview in April and the 2024 Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association’s state golf championships for both boys and girls in October.

“It’s a municipal facility, but people play the courses and say, ‘This is like a private club,’” Marr says. “It’s very well maintained on gorgeous land with great views, and it’s very challenging to play.”

Meanwhile, Sevierville City Park offers five baseball/softball fields, four lighted tennis courts and 12 lighted pickleball courts. Smokies Stadium, the longtime home of the Chicago Cubs Class AA affiliate Tennessee Smokies, boasts more than 6,000 chairback seats and is also available for baseball tournaments. The team is expected to relocate to nearby Knoxville for the 2025 season, but for now, the venue will continue to host other sporting events, according to Marr.

Additionally, Sevierville will host the sixth annual Smallmouth King Bass Tournament in June on the Little Pigeon River and its tributaries in an event that “highlights the top-notch fishing available in Sevierville’s rivers,” Funderburg says.

Family Attractions and Lodging

Photo courtesy of Sevierville Convention & Visitors Bureau
Photo courtesy of Sevierville Convention & Visitors Bureau 

One of the Sevierville area’s biggest and most popular natural attractions is Great Smoky Mountains National Park. “The Smoky Mountains are absolutely beautiful — over 800 miles of maintained hiking trails, great views, scenic drives — and it’s free to enter, except for a parking permit,” Marr says. “And even if you don’t go into the park, there are so many activities within the local community.”

Those activities include a visit to Skyland Ranch, a first-of-its-kind attraction that opened in late 2022 and is anchored by the Wild Stallion Mountain Coaster — billed as the longest mountain roller coaster in the Southeast, with each ride lasting more than eight minutes. Other Skyland Ranch highlights include hayrides, live entertainment, eateries, shops and miniature animals.

Dig ’N Zone, meanwhile, is expected to open in March as the world’s largest construction-based theme park, with more than 25 attractions spread over 27 acres. Kids and adults will be able to access various pieces of construction equipment such as excavators, skid-steers, forklifts and loaders.

For indoor fun, there’s XPERIA: Ocean Journey, another first-of-its-kind attraction in the region that takes visitors on a digital journey to the ocean depths without getting wet — thanks to immersive storytelling, interactive features and CGI animation. Sevierville also is home to the world’s largest Buc-ee’s rest stop. It opened in June 2023 off Interstate 40 and spans 74,000 square feet, offers 120 fueling stations, 20 EV charging stations, fresh barbecue and plenty of other food options, and some of the cleanest and biggest restrooms you’ll likely ever find in the United States.

“It is really cool, and always a fun stop for people,” Marr says. “And the area around Sevierville is developing rapidly. Within the next few years, we’re going to see some additional attractions and lodging.”

One such attraction will be The 407: Gateway to Adventure, a major commercial development near the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park that will include Cherokee Rose — an immersive show inspired by the history and legacy of the Cherokee Code Talkers in World War I. The site is being developed in partnership with The Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians.

Among Sevierville’s 5,000 hotel rooms is the Sanctuary Treehouse Resort, a variety of cabins at Oak Haven Resort & Spa and tiny homes at The Ridge Outdoor Resort. The convention center is adjacent to the Wilderness at the Smokies waterpark resort, and more hotels are on the way, (including, potentially, a Sports Illustrated Resort).

And don’t forget about Downtown Sevierville, a revitalized area that includes arts attractions, a historic walking tour with 20 stops, the Sevier County Heritage Museum, boutiques and other shopping experiences, and a wide variety of dining options.

“We recently renovated Downtown Sevierville, and it’s really coming into its own now,” Marr says. “We’ve got several great chef-driven restaurants downtown, including The Appalachian, which prepares traditional Appalachian dishes with a modern twist that’s great for celebrating a big win.”

There’s also The Pines Downtown, a family-friendly entertainment restaurant with games and a historical twist. “The thing that’s cool about The Pines is that it’s located in the same building as the theater where Dolly Parton played her first paying gig at the age of 10,” Marr says.

Other downtown restaurants include Seasons 101 with seasonally focused menus and an elegant atmosphere, Pinchy’s Lobster and Beer Company, Trotter’s Whole Hog BBQ, and Healthy Balance Meals, which Marr says is “perfect for people who are serious about nutrition.”

Clearly, Sevierville is establishing itself as a family vacation destination with a sports tourism priority.

“As we are getting more venues for hosting events and tournaments, I think there is more interest now in our community and in our sister cities of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg,” Marr says. “We tend to have good weather and are becoming a great choice for tournament planners and rights holders, and there’s a lot of excitement that can be built around an event that’s here — because of everything there is to do.” SDM

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