SportsEvents Magazine

SEP 2016

SportsEvents is edited for those who plan tournaments or other sports events.

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Page 19 of 67

September 2016 20 You can host more than just volleyball, wrestling, martial arts and cheerleading Even convention center staff who are used to bringing in sports events can get stuck in the mindset that only a few sports are suitable for competition in a convention facility. Wrestling, martial arts, volleyball, and cheerleading and dance are some of the most common. But there are a whole host of sports — including some typically played outdoors — that could be accom- modated well in a convention center, even without special playing surfaces. How about billiards, basketball, fencing, table tennis, pickleball, archery and boxing? The list goes on. You can use parking lots/outdoor areas Convention centers and arenas usually have considerable landscaped spaces — both nat- ural and paved — adjacent to the facilities. Savvy sports event planners know those outside spaces can be just right for hosting certain kinds of events. Linda Waggoner, director of marketing and sales for SMG-managed Ford Park in Beaumont, TX, explains the versatility the Park's 221 acres, many of which are open space and provide Ford Park with advantages when working with sports event planners. "It has allowed us to host completely contained 5K races, obstacle courses and Iron Man competitions," said Waggoner. "And the Ford Fields complex, composed of twelve championship-caliber youth soft- ball/baseball fields, is hosting an average of thirty-plus tournaments year-round." Ford Fields' assets include a centralized gate, covered stands, concessions, re- strooms and a 1,000-space parking lot. It's complemented by the Ford Midway, home to the Young Men's Business League-spon- sored South Texas State Fair, which draws some 400,000 people to the Park every year. The Midway has nine acres of paved midway, a 45,000-square-foot practice are- na, more than 25,000 square feet of covered barn space and a dedicated parking area. You can use a convention center for events too large for a sports complex or to handle overflow Hampton Roads in Coastal Virginia has hosted the Boo Williams Girls Nike Invi- tational Basketball Tournament for years but added the Hampton Roads Convention Center (HRCC) as a host site for the event recently. "We started hosting it in the convention center last year," said Brooks Hierstein, sports sales and services manager for Sports Hampton. "They have about two hundred and twenty teams for the event. We put twelve basketball courts in the convention center, making the bulk of the competition there. They also use our Boo Williams Sportsplex for the additional eight courts they use overall." HRCC also shares duties with the Sportsplex for the Mid-Atlantic Power League Volleyball Tournament. HRCC puts in 18 volleyball courts for the event and the Sportsplex has eight more. The Sportsplex is named after Marcellus Spencer "Boo" Williams, Jr., a local high school basketball star who went on to a ca- reer playing basketball in Europe and then returned to his hometown to start a youth basketball league and establish a first-rate youth sports facility. You can offer the convenience of many events under one roof … … even if the event is split into two venues, as in the Hampton Roads example above. "It's an advantage to have pretty much everything under one roof, as you can at a large convention center," said Hierstein. "The first time we did the Nike girls tourna- ment, seeing the kids and the families walk into the facility and seeing all twelve courts in one place seemed to take their breath away. It was good to see. It helps us know we're going in the right direction." Adaptability is a plus! Some sports events facilities, though gener- ally well-designed for athletic competitions of certain kinds, may not offer much in the way of adaptability. Convention centers aren't as constrained. "The convention center gives our clients some flexibility that isn't typically avail- able at traditional sporting venues," said Grayson Hopp, sales manager at Columbia Regional Sports Council. "For example, the concession stands are mobile so we can place them where it works best for their event. The air walls allow them to expand or condense their space as needed. We've noticed that some of the unique or emerging sports really appreciate an adaptable space." Obviously, multi-function venues offer substantial flexibility, such as Ford Park in Beaumont, TX. "What gives Ford Park an edge to other Special Feature: CONVENTION CENTERS Hampton Roads Convention Center Sports Hampton CC Boo Williams Nike Girls Invitational

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