Sports events have always played a pivotal role in American culture. Nearly every state can claim a signature sport, from horse racing in Kentucky to surfing in Hawaii and mountain biking in Colorado. With so many athletic venues to choose from, sports planners should consider taking their team or organization to one of the following sportcentric states, which boast of first-rate facilities as well as long-standing reputations for hosting sports events.
Frequently ranked as one of the most active states in the United States, Minnesota attracts a wide variety of sports groups, from track cyclists to speed skaters and baseball players. In 2017, Minnesota was ranked second in the country by the League of American Bicyclists among states most friendly to bicyclists, with over 4,000 miles of paved trails and dozens of annual races. The state also prides itself on accommodating niche sports organizations, with unusual facilities not offered by every destination.
The epicenter of Minnesota sports is the National Sports Center in Blaine, which is the largest amateur sports facility in the world. The 600-acre property encompasses over 50 full-size soccer fields, an eight-sheet ice rink, an 18-hole golf course, a cycling velodrome and a convention center. In July each year, the center hosts the Schwan’s USA Cup, which involves more than 1,000 international youth soccer teams.
The Amsoil Arena in Duluth is a top-quality venue for hockey, curling and skating competitions, and was recently named the country’s No. 1 college hockey arena by Stadium Journal for the second year in a row. The arena sits adjacent to the 60,000-square-foot City Side Convention Center and Harbor Side Convention Center on the banks of Lake Superior.
In Rochester, volleyball teams can take advantage of the National Volleyball Center, next to Century High School, which accommodates volleyball events with world-class equipment, from Bio-Cushion II flooring to Olympic-quality lighting. Based at the Olmsted County Fairgrounds, the 100,000-square-foot Graham Arena Complex comprises four multipurpose arenas that frequently host hockey tournaments, boxing events, horse shows and dance competitions.
The city of Mankato is another popular destination for amateur sports events, hosting seasonal sports throughout the year at the Verizon multipurpose arena, the Blakeslee football stadium, the All Seasons ice skating arena and the Franklin Rogers baseball park.
Massachusetts is the birthplace of basketball and volleyball, two of the world’s most popular sports, as well as home to four prominent professional sports teams: the Boston Red Sox, the Boston Bruins, the Boston Celtics and the New England Patriots. On Patriot’s Day in April each year, the capital city of Boston hosts the historic Boston Marathon, the oldest annual marathon in the world.
Thanks to the region’s extensive athletic history, sports planners will find a wide selection of distinct venues throughout the state. Based in the heart of downtown Worcester, the DCU Center is one of New England’s premier indoor arenas, often setting the stage for major concerts, trade shows and sports competitions. In addition to the sports facility, the center provides over 100,000 square feet of exhibit space with on-site catering.
In Roxbury Crossing, the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center hosts over 90 high school, collegiate and national track meets each year; past events have included the USA Track and Field Championship, the Boston Indoor Games and the NCAA Division II Championship.
Home of the Springfield Thunderbirds, the MassMutual Center in Springfield hosts over 100 annual events in its 8,000-seat arena, which can be reconfigured to accommodate different seating arrangements. The 6,500-seat Tsongas Center in Lowell is another spacious, multipurpose arena, with elegant meeting space overlooking the Merrimack River.