SportsEvents is edited for those who plan tournaments or other sports events.
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August 2015 19 t NATURAL Venues www.sportseventsmagazine.com Knoxville, Tenn.: A Haven For Watersports NOTABLE Natural Venue With the French Broad and Holston rivers coming together to form the Tennessee River in Knoxville, the area is perfect for water-oriented sports as well as other outdoor adventures. Outdoor Knoxville is a partnership to make Knoxville's natural recre- ational assets an economic stimulus in the region. The area boasts about 50 outdoor events each week, and has 14 bike shops, 12 outfitter/event directors, and 20 other outdoor retailers offering all the necessary gear and encouragement for enjoying out- door activities. Knoxville is surrounded on all sides by whitewater, creating numer- ous opportunities for paddle sports. The Obed Wild and Scenic River area and the Big South Fork National River are protected, free-flowing rivers for whitewater pad- dling. Rivers also run through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Cherokee National Forest. The dam-released Ocoee, Hiwassee, and Pigeon rivers provide whitewater during the summer months long after most free-flowing rivers slow to a trickle. And Walden Ridge and the Western Plateau offer even more whitewater adventure. In addition, Knoxville has nearly 150 miles of paved and natural trails for recreation and more than 5,000 acres of open spaces and parks. n The soft, white sands at Panama City Beach, Fla., makes it "one of the best venues in America to play" beach volleyball, said Ross Balling, commissioner for the EVP Beach Volleyball Tour. "The sand is so pristine," he said. "It's unbe- lievable." In fact, Panama City Beach sand sets the bar for what players find at other ven- ues. "It's an A plus, plus." That's impor- tant for an EVP tour venue because the soft sand allows the players to dive and to move more freely. But, it's not the only positive Panama City Beach has going for it. The location allows players to get there in a day from places like Chicago, Tampa, Atlanta and other cities. "We think in the future it will be a hub," Balling said. "We hope Panama City Beach will continue to grow the sport." The EVP Tour, which has been going to the area for about eight years, brings 100 to 150 athletes to the tournament, which draws many vacationers as spectators. So, between May and September is prime time for the EVP Tour stop to draw the best crowds, he said, adding that "Panama City Beach is perfect for family sports vacations." The destination is built around the out- doors, with plenty of natural venues for large- scaled events like the EVP Beach Volleyball tour and the Florida Ironman competition. The Florida Ironman begins with the swim in the Gulf of Mexico, then a bike ride and marathon that ends in part at St. Andrews State Park, one of the most popular parks in the state, said David Demarest, spokesperson for Visit Panama City Beach. With 27 miles of beachfront, including a seven-mile barrier island, there is plenty of room for sand events like the pro volleyball tournament, the Panama Jack Pier to Pier Paddleboard Classic, fishing competitions, Mr. Surf's Zap Pro/Am Skim Jam skim boarding competition, a Pro Watercross event, the Beach Blast powered paragliding fly-in and more. "Panama City Beach is a great location for these types of events because the weather is generally very good," Demarest said. "We expe- rience an average of 320 days of sunshine per year, and our winters are mild. In the summer, a cooling sea breeze and the moderating effect of the Gulf of Mexico keep our area cooler than locations farther inland. And, because we have a great variety of accommo- dations and activities to choose from, we can satisfy just about every competitor and sports family." n Natural Venue KNOW HOW: To create a return on experi- ence, consider combining a sporting event with a family beach vacation. —David Demarest, Visit Panama City Beach Visit Panama City Beach Panama City Beach, Fla., has plenty of natural venues to host large-scaled events like the EVP Beach Volleyball tour. Sand & Surf Draw Volleyballers To Panama City Beach, Fla. Knoxville, surrounded on all sides by rivers, offers plenty of opportunities for water recreation. Visit Knoxville