Accompanying the rise of global sporting events, sports tourism has become a significant sector of the events industry in recent years. Sports complexes, the impressive venues that host everything from local T-ball leagues to regional competitions and national tournaments, are important players in this industry. These venues accommodate a wide variety of youth and adult sports on a recreational and competitive level and are extremely profitable investments in a community because of their contributions to the tourism sectors of the areas they serve.
Here are some of the country’s newest developments for hosting sports tournaments and events.
Bell Bank Park
Designed to host youth, adult and recreational sports, Bell Bank Park is a sports complex and event venue serving the Southwest. It was created in partnership between Bell Bank, Legacy Cares and Legacy Sports USA to host tournaments and leagues in a broad range of sports, as well as bring in high-profile performers and events. At 320 acres, the massive complex is the largest of its kind in the country and opened in January 2022. It features eight baseball/softball fields; 20 basketball courts; 35 soccer, football and lacrosse fields; 57 indoor volleyball courts; and 41 pickleball courts. It also has an arcade, an e-sports venue, indoor and outdoor stadiums, a 20,000-square-foot fitness center and a Full Swing Suites sports simulator. Additional amenities like a zipline and sports bar and restaurant ensure those visiting for tournaments and competitions can indulge in a bit of fun within the park.
“Bell Bank Park, Legacy Sports USA and Legacy Cares are truly delivering on their promise to make the park a hub for the local community while serving as the newest tourism destination in the southwestern United States,” said Lance Fite, director of sports sales at Visit Mesa.
In addition to all that nearby Phoenix has to offer, Mesa gives travelers plenty of choices for dining and lodging with its selection of over 900 restaurants and 60 hotels. Travelers can take advantage of Arizona’s beautiful weather and the beautiful surrounding Sonoran Desert with a trip to any one of the scenic regional and state parks. They can also learn about art, history and science at one of Mesa’s many museums.
Cornerstone Sports Complex
Kids in Mississippi don’t often get the opportunity to play on turf fields recreationally, but that’s changing thanks to the Cornerstone Sports Complex. Opening during the summer of 2023, the complex will bring extra opportunities for recreational and competitive youth sports and community connection in Starkville. The 12-acre complex will include 12 baseball/softball diamonds, 12 fields suitable for youth soccer or football, two T-ball fields, batting cages, playgrounds and a walking trail. It will also feature 668 parking spaces and community lawn spaces, making it the perfect spot for community gatherings.
“It will be a good meeting of community recreation and sports tourism,” said Ashli Coggins, marketing and sponsorships manager at Starkville Parks and Recreation/Cornerstone Sportsplex.
The addition to the close-knit Starkville community is the result of close collaboration between the Starkville Parks and Recreation Department and local organizations. Starkville is known as “Mississippi’s College Town” because it’s home to Mississippi State University, which is right around the corner from the new complex; the university’s architecture program contributed the designs for comfortable and innovative family seating within the parks. Visitors in town for a tournament can experience an abundance of shopping and dining in historic downtown Starkville. In addition to the city’s historic Hotel Chester, they will also find lodging at several bed and breakfasts, a Holiday Inn Express, and LaQuinta Inn and Suites.
ForeverLawn Sports Complex
Designed around Canton’s Pro Football Hall of Fame Museum in Canton, Hall of Fame Village is an entertainment venue with 100 acres of diverse attractions for travelers. The ForeverLawn Sports Complex, which opened in August 2022, is one part of this visionary destination that opened with the rest of the campus amenities. In total, the Hall of Fame Village campus features seven turf fields, a grass field, concessions, a coach’s viewing area, classroom space and athletic training room. It hosts leagues and tournaments in sports like football, flag football, rugby, lacrosse and soccer. Five of these fields are found within the ForeverLawn Sports Complex.
“We were able to take it from four nice turf fields that were great to play on all year to a destinations sports complex where you could come and spend the whole day playing but then have creature comforts around you,” said Clint Fetty, vice president and general manager at Hall of Fame Village Sports.
The Hall of Fame Village is still adding to its long list of family-friendly amenities, with plenty to come in 2023. In addition to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Museum in Canton, competitors and their families will be able to enjoy on-site attractions like a Ferris wheel, ziplines, a Build-A-Bear store and plenty of options for dining and shopping. Canton and the surrounding areas have over 10 hotel properties to accommodate travelers.
RISE Indoor Sports Complex
Bermuda Run, North Carolina
RISE Indoor Sports Complex is one of the largest indoor sports complexes in the Southeastern region, doubling as both a hub for community health and a venue for competitive sports. The nearly 123,000-square-foot complex opened in May 2021 and has been playing host to tournaments for a broad range of indoor sports, including basketball,
volleyball, wrestling, soccer, weightlifting and gymnastics. The complex includes eight basketball courts, 12 volleyball courts, pickleball courts, 28,000 square feet of turf fields, a training center, a cardio studio and concessions with indoor and outdoor dining. It’s also the site of the Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Clinic.
“By offering well-rounded health and wellness programming, along with competitive opportunities, RISE plays a major role in the local quality of life,” said Wendy Horne, marketing director at RISE Indoor Sports Complex.
Bermuda Run is near Clemmons, Winston-Salem and Greensboro, North Carolina, making RISE easily accessible and centrally located in the state and region. From a Hampton Inn in Bermuda Run to historic hotels in downtown Winston-Salem, the immediate area surrounding RISE offers travelers plenty of lodging in a range of settings. Bermuda Run features several award-winning golf courses for visitors to enjoy. In the nearby Yadkin Valley, travelers can explore more than 45 vineyards and wineries, 19 of which can be found on the Surry County Wine Trail.
Future Legends Complex
Located about an hour from Denver in Windsor, Colorado, the Future Legends Complex is an indoor-outdoor, 118-acre complex designed to host both youth and professional sports. The complex was partially opened in January and is set to fully open later in the year. It will feature an indoor multipurpose dome, 10 multipurpose turf fields, eight outdoor and two indoor baseball/softball diamonds, 16 volleyball courts and a multipurpose stadium. Future Legends is the future home to the Northern Colorado Owlz, a Pioneer League baseball team, but will also host plenty of leagues, tournaments and recreational sporting events for youth and adults alike.
“We will have traditional sports on our diamonds, fields and hardcourt, but will also integrate innovative, different and new sports as well,” said Jackie Keesling, director of marketing and communications at Future Legends. “Our indoor and outdoor diamonds will host baseball and softball, and we will have a Miracle Field to accommodate children and adults with special needs and special abilities. Our multipurpose fields will have soccer, lacrosse, flag football, ultimate frisbee, dodgeball, futsal, quidditch and anything else you can think of.”
Future Legends Complex is distinct as a sports complex because it will also include on-campus lodging with approximately 260 hotel rooms, as well as retail and dining for competitors and their families. Additionally, Windsor features a Springhill Suites and a Holiday Inn Express, a number of restaurants and breweries, and natural parks, where visitors can experience the beautiful scenery of Colorado.