SEP 2016

ConventionSouth magazine is the leading resource for meeting planners who book all types of events, conventions, conferences and group travel in the south.

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⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 6 w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 26 SPORTS EVENTS & COMPETITIONS the Greater Richmond Convention Center, the largest convention facility in the state, which hosts sports business sessions and trade shows, and is also equipped to put on diverse events such as indoor field hockey, taekwondo, fencing, and cheer and dance camps and competitions. The River City Sportsplex, the largest collection of synthetic fields in the U.S., is a 115-acre facility with 12 turf fields that can be used for lacrosse, soccer, rugby, field hockey and many other sports. Another venue that draws sports visitors is the Collegiate School Aquatics Center in Ukrop Park. The newly opened facility boasts three pools including the 50-meter, eight-lane Myrtha Pool that was brought from Omaha after the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials, a therapy pool with two underwater treadmills and diagnostic video equipment, and a 25-yard, warm-water teaching pool. An expansive mezzanine grandstand can hold up to 700 spectators. The fully accessible facility boasts a community room, ample parking and locker facilities. In addition, a 5,000-square- foot space is planned for physical therapy and rehabilitation services. In addition to the aquatics center, Ukrop Park is home to the Richmond Kickers Youth Soccer Club. The environmentally friendly, state-of-the-art complex features seven lighted athletic fields utilizing the latest technology in Musco lighting and Sportexe synthetic turf, and hosts numerous sports tournaments throughout the year. Additionally, Richmond International Raceway is a unique attraction that provides a vast array of meeting and convention spaces, many with sports themes and tie-ins. The raceway is host to more than 180 events a year, from consumer/trade shows to outdoor festivals to the Richmond Boat Show and the Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show. While auto racing is the main draw, there are all sorts of ancillary activities including the popular pace-car rides. The Media Center provides an ideal venue for sports leagues' business sessions and annual meetings in a sporting environment. Providing The Sports Experience Greensboro, N.C., is another market that is at the forefront of the sports tourism industry; about 60 percent of its meeting and convention business is sports-related, according to Brian Ambuehl, of the Greensboro CVB. "The trend at the grassroots level is that parents are determined to provide their children with the best possible sports experience," he said. "They tend to visit the market, have a great tournament experience and stick around to enjoy some of our other amenities. We try to make it a positive experience for the families and to help the organizing groups make things run smoothly. In addition, we work very closely with collegiate and adult amateur athletics groups to provide them with whatever support they need for their events and their meetings." Ambuehl added that league meetings and annual conventions are critical to drawing competitions to the area. "These groups typically include the events' rights holders, and as such they put their specs out for bid and ultimately select the venues for meets and tournaments. If we can get them to meet here, we can make our case down the road for hosting their event here," he explained. Among the groups that have selected Greensboro for their meetings are USA Track & Field, ASA/USA Softball Annual Council Meeting and the North Carolina Coaches Association Coaches Clinic, which has gathered in Greensboro annually since 1948. Several first-class sports venues in the Greensboro market make it a natural choice for aquatic competitions and track and field events. The 79,423-square-foot Greensboro Aquatic Center (GAC) is a state-of-the-art facility featuring leading-edge concepts in aquatic design and bringing together all major aquatic sports – swimming and diving, water polo and synchronized swimming – in a single venue. With three bodies of water – a competition pool, a warm-up pool and a diving well – the GAC is positioned to host high school and collegiate events, USA Swimming, Master's swimming and USA Water Polo events. In addition, the facilities serve local citizens through diverse programming that includes "Learn to Swim" classes and therapeutic rehabilitation. The IAAF-certified Irwin Belk Track at North Carolina A&T State University is a 23,000-seat track and field complex featuring eight running lanes with Mondo Super X Olympic-style surface, dual direction runways for long jump, triple jump and pole vault, and crushed concrete shot put and discus circles. Additionally, the Sheraton Koury Convention Center can host sports-related events with up to 4,000 participants in state-of-the-art flexible meeting space and the adjacent 28-story, 985-room Sheraton Greensboro at Four Seasons. Greensboro offers a multitude of ancillary activities for visiting athletes and families. The newest is the Carolyn & Maurice LeBauer Park, which just opened in August. Crowned by a dramatic Janet Echelman aerial sculpture, it offers children's play areas, performance areas, gardens and "reading rooms," a dog park, and permanent and temporary concession areas. Offering A Sport-cation Destination With more than 60 miles of Atlantic Coast beaches, Myrtle Beach, S.C., draws groups that like to mix sports and vacations. "For sports events – tournaments and the like – Myrtle Beach simply can't be beat," said Mike Anderson, CSEE, executive director of sports tourism for the Myrtle Beach CVB. "We have incredible facilities for just about any sport you Greensboro Coliseum

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