With three institutes of higher education, Conway, Arkansas, is appropriately known as a college town, with a youth-oriented focus that bleeds into many of its activities, including sports events. This aspect of Conway is certainly appealing, as is its cozy, small-town atmosphere that makes sports organizers and teams feel welcome.
Conway is one of the fastest growing cities in Arkansas, and as a result has a number of new sports venues and hotels built in the last few years. Despite this boom, the city is still fairly small, making it easy to get around. The people are supportive and eager to entertain visitors, especially sports teams and their guests. Sports organizers will find it easy and affordable to host a successful sports event in Conway.
The city features a lot of recreational facilities geared towards youth sports, such as a soccer complex and new baseball and softball complex. The colleges also provide a number of venues that can handle all kinds of sports tournaments, from baseball and volleyball to cheerleading and gymnastics.
Nearly every weekend during the summer of 2012 and 2013 has been booked with tournaments and athletic events, according to Rachel Earls, director of destination marketing for Conway Area Chamber of Commerce.
There were about 50 USSSA U-Trip tournaments in Conway this year alone, bringing people from all over the state to the city. Conway was also awarded a contract for the High School All-Star Games, put on by the State Activities Association. Conway partnered with the University of Central Arkansas to bring in the top athletes from the state for a week, where they competed in all kinds of sports. This event is slated to be held in Conway for the next five years. HoopPlay USA, a basketball tournament, has also been in town the last three years, using all city facilities, college campuses and high schools.
Top Sports Facilities
Buzz Bolding Arena
This arena plays host to events like basketball, volleyball, cheerleading and gymnastics. It has seating for 1,800 spectators.
City of Colleges Park
Built in 2010, this state-of-the-art softball facility has five lighted fields. It is where one of the city colleges hosts its baseball and softball games.
Centennial Soccer Complex
The soccer complex features four lighted fields and eight non-lighted fields.
Conway Expo Center & Fairgrounds
This multipurpose facility features an Event Center with 6,222 square feet of meeting space, an Expo Center with 40,779 square feet of covered space and an open-air pavilion with 55,000 square feet. These can be converted into various floor plans to accommodate a wide range of sports events.
Conway Station Park
A recent addition to the city—built in 2011—Conway Station Park features nine fields, and is home to USSSA’s U-Trip softball events, which has been held in Conway the last two years.
Don Owen Complex
A multi-sport complex that features three basketball courts, three lighted baseball fields, six volleyball courts and a walking track.
Hendrix College Facilities
Hendrix College offers a range of sports venues for organizers to use. There are three basketball courts, one baseball field, one lacrosse field, a soccer field, a softball field, four volleyball courts, an Olympic-size swimming pool and a track.
University of Central Arkansas Facilities
Four basketball courts, a baseball field (new turf), three soccer fields, four softball fields, five volleyball courts, heated swimming pool, and the Pepsi Center (an indoor turf facility that is half the size of a football field).
When teams are not competing, there is a lot to keep them busy. Conway has a great downtown area with lots of shopping, boutique stores, hip restaurants and various attractions. The University of Central Arkansas has a lot for guests to do. Athletes and their families can peruse collections at one of the largest academic galleries in the state at the Baum Gallery of Fine Art, or catch a show at the Arkansas Shakespeare Theater.
Teams can spend an afternoon bowling at Conway Family Bowl, skate around at the Roller Rink or catch a film at the new movie theater. Visitors will have a great time wandering the streets of Pickles Gap Village, a tiny town with gift, souvenir, antique and craft shops, as well as the Pickle Barrel Fudge Factory with homemade fudge and pies.
Getting Here & Getting Around
Conveniently located 30 miles from Little Rock, Conway is easily accessible from most regions of the country. It is located right off I-40, so most teams can get there by shuttle, rented van or car. Once they arrive, the easiest way to get around is by car, and most attractions, hotels and venues are within a short distance of one another, making it easy to navigate.
With a convenient location, updated facilities and small-town charm, Conway really has everything sports planners and teams need to put on a successful tournament.
Sports organizers looking to bring their event to Conway will receive exceptional help from the team at the Chamber of Commerce, Earls says. The staff can help secure hotel blocks for athletes, work out deals with accommodations, send out alerts to facilities to let them know what planners are looking for and ensure the event gets what it needs. The team can also help book venues and recruit volunteers to help with the event. Basically anything sports planners need, Conway’s team is there to help.
ContactConway CVB Rachel Earls, Director of Destination Marketing 900 Oak St., Conway, AR 72032 Phone: 501-932-5409 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.conwayark.com
–By Vanessa Day