It’s no secret that Erie, Pennsylvania has worked hard to make a name for itself as a premier destination for athletes and sports groups. The dedicated community sees sports as a crucial way to improve the health and lifestyle of the region and build something that can be enjoyed by all – regardless of age.
So when considering a destination for your sports group, consider all that Erie has to offer. From giant stadiums to ultra-fast speedways and plenty of natural greenspace, you can find it in Erie. And as always, why not turn your group trip into an adventure? The city is home to professional sports teams, a major state park with seven miles of sandy beaches, water parks and a thriving cultural center. Start planning your trip to Erie today!
What activities await you in Erie?
Take your next group trip to the shores of Lake Erie for fun on and off the field. Athletes in Erie will have a chance to enjoy games played by any of the four professional teams that call Erie home. You have the NBA D-League Erie Bayhawks, Erie Otters hockey team of the Ontario Hockey League, baseball’s AA Erie SeaWolves and Erie Commodores of the National Premier Soccer League.
And why not hit the beach? Presque Isle State Park on Lake Erie is the perfect place to take in the natural beauty of the region. Stroll along the seven miles of sandy beaches (recently voted the #1 Freshwater Beach in the Country by the readers of USA Today), enjoy a picnic with friends, hike along the 25 miles of trails, or rent a kayak and explore by water. There are countless ways to explore Presque Isle (French for “almost an island”), including Segways, surreys, water skis, boats and bikes. It’s the perfect escape for any group.
Traveling with a group is fun and easy in Erie – there are plenty of options that will help you please everyone. Head to Waldameer Park & Water World, near the entrance to Presque Isle Park, and get your adrenaline pumping on Ravine Flyer II – the sixth best wooden roller coaster in the world. There are waterslides, the largest wave pool in the tri-state area, live shows, and an arcade. At Splash Lagoon Indoor Water Park & Resort you’ll find it a balmy 87 degrees year-round. Another popular group escape has always been the Erie Zoo & Botanical Gardens, located in the heart of the city.
The city of Erie has worked hard to build up a flourishing arts and culture scene, and you will find major theater productions, concerts, performances and exhibits. The Erie Playhouse is one of the oldest community theaters in America, with performances year-round. The Erie Philharmonic and Erie Art Museum also reflect how this city is growing to become a regional superstar.
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Erie’s Impressive Array of Sports Facilities
Erie Insurance Arena
Sports: Hockey, Indoor Football, basketball, wrestling
Located in the heart of downtown Erie, this multipurpose indoor arena is ready to host a wide range of sports, including hockey, basketball and wrestling. The arena underwent a huge restoration and expansion in 2014 that has made it bigger and better than ever. And organizers agree – as the venue has hosted major events including the 2011 NCAA Women’s Frozen Four National Ice Hockey Championship and 2014 NCAA Women’s Division II Basketball Elite Eight. There is seating for nearly 7,000 spectators and eight team locker rooms.
Need space for your next event? Bayfront Convention Center is made to host your group in style. The 28,000-square-foot Great Hall has hosted everything from gymnastics meets to boxing matches, cheerleading and even dog shows. Visitors love the access to nearly 500 free parking spaces, and two adjacent hotels perfect for hosting spectators and athletes. The Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel is connected to the Convention Center via a Skybridge, and a second connecting hotel, the Courtyard Erie Bayfront Hotel opened in June 2016.
Jerry Uht Park
What could be better than playing baseball in the heart of downtown Erie, on the same field that the AA Erie SeaWolves call home? This 4,200-seat stadium has seen recent improvements that have added a scoreboard with a 40-foot video display and a two-tiered Picnic Garden with 11 club seat boxes. Jerry Uht Park has experience hosting all levels and makes for the perfect baseball destination in Erie.
Sports: Running, Bicycle, Fishing, Beach Sports, Triathlons
Presque Isle State Park, a forested peninsula jutting into Lake Erie, is perfect for all of your outdoor pursuits. Across 3,200 acres you will find seven miles of sandy beaches and flat trails, ideal for cycling, running, cross country, triathlon and beach volleyball events. The Park offers plenty of boat launch areas, making it the perfect venue for fishing tournaments and other water sport events. The staff is well-versed in hosting competitive events – on average, Presque Isle hosts 90 sports events each year!
Family First Sports Park
Sports: Soccer, Lacrosse, Basketball
Erie has worked hard to make a name for itself as a premier sporting event destination, and Family First Sports Park shows that the city has not shied away from offering some of the biggest venues in the region. As Northwest Pennsylvania’s largest multi-sport facility, the complex includes 17 outdoor playing fields, two indoor soccer fields, an inflated sports dome, a gymnasium with four basketball courts, a fitness center, multi-use flex space and recreation area.
Prep and Villa Events Center
Sports: Swimming, diving, basketball, volleyball
The Prep Villa Events Center, located in the heart of downtown Erie, added the new Joann Mullen Gymnasium and David M. Hallman III Aquatic Center in 2016. The multi-functional facility features 350 on-site parking spaces, in addition to many nearby parking opportunities. Dollinger Field is a full-sized athletic field with artificial turf, lined for football, lacrosse, and soccer. It provides seating for 2,000 spectators and a new state of the art sound system. Joann Mullen Gymnasium is a 14,550 square foot court lined for basketball and volleyball. The facility offers seating for more than 1,600 and has space for two full-sized courts. David M. Hallman III Aquatic Center boasts a seating capacity of approximately 500, and a double-deep eight-lane 25-yard competition pool with a one-meter diving board, in addition to a separate three-lane 25-yard double shallow warm-up pool. A concourse area offers banquet-style seating for 100-plus guests, on-site catering, and live-streaming capability.
Sports: Obstacle Races, Motor Sports
Quickly becoming a popular venue for many types of outdoor events, Lake Erie Speedway features 125 acres of land surrounding a 3/8 mile asphalt speedway, 1,000 parking spaces, a convenient concession area, and 6,000 seats in the main grandstands. An additional 4,000 spectators can be accommodated in perimeter areas.
Erie Veterans Memorial Stadium
Sports: Soccer, football
Soccer and football teams can look no further than Erie Veterans Memorial Stadium. Built in 1924, the city’s largest outdoor stadium has a long history of hosting playoff games for soccer and football, and offering the community a place to host local matches and other events including band competitions. The stadium caters to fan needs and can comfortably fit up to 10,000. A new “A-Turf” surface gives the stadium the capability of hosting multiple games or events the same day regardless of weather conditions.
Getting to Erie
Erie sits perched along the shores of its namesake, the great Lake Erie. To the Southwest you have Cleveland, Ohio and to the Northeast, Buffalo, New York.
By train: Take a scenic, stress-free train ride from Cleveland that takes about an hour-and-a-half. The best part? Amtrak’s station is located in the center of downtown, so step off the train and you’re ready to go.
By car: For a road trip, you can get to Erie via I-79 from Pittsburgh and I-90 from the East or West.
By plane: Erie International Airport is served by three major airline carriers—United, Delta and USAirways/American Airlines—with nonstop flights to major cities and connections to over 1,100 different destinations.