Youth sports are not the low-key affairs they used to be.
These days, teams compete at an elite level, traveling across states for games, competitions and tournaments. And it’s not only the teams — their parents and other family members are along for the ride, too.
When they’re not competing, teams and their parents will want to unwind with great family activities. The following destinations offer world-class sporting facilities plus plenty of things to do during downtime, making them a good choice for hosting youth sports events.
Round Rock, Texas
Known as the Sports Capital of Texas, Round Rock is the ultimate destination for amateur, youth and recreational sports. Less than a half-hour from Austin, the Round Rock Sports Center and the Round Rock Multipurpose Complex attract visitors from around the globe. The sports center hosts a plethora of indoor sporting events, from basketball to cheer, table tennis to martial arts — and even Quidditch. The 82,800-square-foot facility includes almost 50,000 square feet of flexible play space with several configurations possible. Its total capacity is just over 3,000, with a spectator capacity of 1,400, and includes state-of-the-art technology and amenities like 500 parking spaces, locker rooms, LCD scoreboards and concessions.
“We’ve had national competitions that will come back every year that are very prestigious, and we’re honored to be the host of, like, the National Collegiate Table Tennis Championships and the IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu Championships,” said Nancy Yawn, director of the Round Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The sports facility team is made up of industry experts who make sure everything runs smoothly — they’ll take care of every last detail.”
The Round Rock Multipurpose Complex is on 68 acres, consisting of 10 multipurpose fields.
Long Island, New York
Set in the heart of the tristate area, Long Island, New York, makes an obvious choice for youth league sporting events: It’s easy to reach from JFK and LaGuardia airports on a short ride on the Long Island Rail Road or a ferry from Connecticut. Local convention and visitors bureau Discover Long Island is the key to planning any event because it handles everything including site visits and volunteer coordination.
“We have premier golf courses, top-notch stadiums, a dynamic landscape of public parks with dozens of multipurpose athletic fields and fantastic family attractions that make us an unparalleled destination for youth sports,” said Kirsten Reynolds, president and CEO of Discover Long Island. “Our indoor and outdoor sporting facilities host anywhere from 50 to 10,000 patrons: We have the brand-new USB Arena, home of the New York Islanders, and we host the Belmont Stakes, U.S. Open, and will host the 2025 Ryder Cup.”
The Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum can seat up to 14,500 for basketball, MMA and boxing and also hosts hockey. The Nassau County Aquatic Center is an 80,000-square-foot facility with lap lanes, springboards and a dive tank. The Mitchel Athletic Complex is a 49-acre sports complex for baseball, softball, lacrosse, soccer, track and football that seats 10,000 and has full amenities. Twin Rinks has two NHL-size indoor rinks in its 145,000-square-foot space, including an outdoor rink plus locker and hospitality rooms.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
When most people think of Myrtle Beach, they have visions of seaside vacations and hitting the links, but the area has become a hive for youth sports activities. Offering a mix of indoor and outdoor venues, hosting sports from football to dance, the venues can accommodate thousands of spectators and offer a full range of amenities.
“Myrtle Beach is such a great destination for youth sports,” said Jonathan Paris, executive director of sports tourism for the Myrtle Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We have a mix of world-class sports tourism venues, affordable housing options and endless activities and restaurants for families to enjoy when they’re not competing. It’s been a major focus for our destination for the past 10-plus years, with some of the best venues in the country.”
The Grand Park Athletic Complex is the city’s main outdoor diamond complex, with nine lighted turf diamonds, hosting youth and adult softball, baseball, football and soccer. The John T. Rhodes Myrtle Beach Sports Center is the main indoor sports tourism venue in the area, featuring 100,000 square feet of space for eight basketball or 16 volleyball courts and hosts basketball, volleyball, gymnastics, cornhole, wrestling, cheer, dance and handball. Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium is home to a FieldTurf football/soccer/lacrosse field with an eight-lane NCAA Certified lighted track.
Myrtle Beach has over 100,000 total hotel accommodations for groups, with an array of hotels and resorts to condos. The city has a wide range of 1,200 restaurants, from seafood buffets to fine dining, offering myriad options. For recreation, the area is home to 60 miles of sandy beaches and 80 traditional golf courses. Broadway at the Beach and Barefoot Landing offer boardwalk shopping and arcades.
The roster of sporting events held in Omaha, Nebraska, is impressive, from the NCAA Men’s College World Series to the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials, among many others. One reason Omaha is such a popular choice is its convenient central location, along with ample amenities teams need for every event to run smoothly.
“I think we do well with youth sports because we’re not just centrally located, but we’re a really friendly city,” said Mark Rath, director of sports at Visit Omaha. “We support our events here well — we don’t have pro sports here, so fans go to the tournaments that come to town. Our office is a one-stop-shop, and our organizers are involved right from the get-go to find teams hotels and places to eat, or whatever they need.”
CHI Health Center Omaha, the city’s convention center and arena, is 346,000 square feet and has seating for more than 18,000. It has been used for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships and the FEI World Cup Horse Jumping Championships, among other events. Other area venues include Baxter Arena at the University of Nebraska Omaha, with seating for 7,500 and space for hockey, basketball and volleyball, and Creighton University’s Wayne and Eileen Ryan Athletic Center and D.J. Sokol Arena, with the capacity for 78,000-plus people.
Omaha’s outdoor facilities are on a par with their indoor ones, with TD Ameritrade Park leading the pack. The 24,000-seat baseball stadium is considered to be one of the top non-MLB stadiums in the country. Home of minor league team the Omaha Storm Chasers, Werner Park has a capacity for over 9,000 attendees. The Dill Softball Complex has five fields and is suitable for youth leagues; the Kelley Field Softball Complex has eight fields. Morrison Stadium is a 7,500-seat soccer arena at Creighton University; the University of Nebraska Omaha is home to the Al F. Caniglia Field, seating 9,500 soccer fans. Tranquility Field features 15 soccer fields, plus a playground and baseball and tennis facilities.
Just an hour from Los Angeles in Southern California, Ontario and its sister city, Rancho Cucamonga, are easy to reach by road — they’re at the crossroads of three major thoroughfares — or via the Ontario International Airport. The area has 37 venues for volleyball, martial arts, football, basketball, baseball, soccer, hockey and even rock climbing, fishing and archery.
“Our goal is to make sure that events go off without a hitch — our team has relationships with venues and hotels, and we can provide recommendations on everything from where to have a team dinner to where to go to have fun between events,” said Sue Oxarart, director of marketing and communications at the Greater Ontario Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We have the gorgeous Southern California weather we’re famous for, plus we’re close to beaches or mountains, even Disneyland.”
The Toyota Arena is a multipurpose indoor arena with seating for more than 11,000 for sports like ice hockey and skating, basketball, and boxing. The Rancho Cucamonga Epicenter Sports Complex is home to the area’s minor league team, the Quakes, and has seating for 6,000. The multiuse complex has baseball and soccer fields. The Ontario Convention Center has more than 225,000 square feet of configurable space. Ontario Soccer Park is 20 acres with seven fields.
At the juncture of Interstate 65 and U.S. 62, Elizabethtown, Kentucky, just south of Louisville, Kentucky, is a convenient destination for youth sports enthusiasts across the region. Several years ago, the construction of a sports complex made it a hotbed of recreation, adding another element to the town’s attractions.
“Sports are a very big deal here — we don’t have a beach or an amusement park, but we built ourselves an outdoor sports complex that’s tailored to youth sports,” said Janna Clark, executive director of the Elizabethtown Tourism and Convention Bureau.
The Elizabethtown Sports Park sits on 150 acres with three turfed quads — 12 diamonds — for baseball and softball, plus two championship-style turf fields for soccer, lacrosse and football. The park has three pavilions plus one accessible field with spectator seating, all focused on the needs of youth teams.
For indoor sporting events, the Bluegrass Sportsplex features a multiuse turf field, three full-size basketball courts that convert to five volleyball courts, six batting cages and amenities like party rooms and concessions.
Planners at the Elizabethtown CVB provide the full realm of services, from registering for the event to booking hotels as a team to letting guests know about the best activities for teams to do between games, even where to go if they forgot an important piece of gear.