Great Lakes Bay Region is Ready to Host Your Sports Event

With top-notch sports facilities, unbeatable attractions and Central Michigan’s natural beauty, there’s no better place for your sports tournament than the Great Lakes Bay Region.

With top-notch sports facilities, unbeatable attractions and Central Michigan’s natural beauty, there’s no better place for your sports tournament than the Great Lakes Bay Region.

Logo_Vertical_BluePeople in Michigan love to refer to the state as “the mitten.” If you don’t know why, just peek at a map and you’ll find out. And if you’re looking for a great place to plan a sports event or tournament, you’d do well to look no further than the sweet spot of the mitten, the Great Lakes Bay Region.

This region, comprising the area surrounding the cities of Saginaw, Bay City and Midland, holds many fun treasures that you, your event’s team members and their families can enjoy. From outdoor adventures to waterfront activities, from arts and culture to nightlife and shopping, the area is, as Tim Allen would say in those commercials, “Pure Michigan.”

Luckily for sports event and tournament organizers (and the teams that attend these events), the Great Lakes Bay Region is also an excellent host area. The region has been home to national and international softball events, and has played host to numerous state, regional and national soccer, tennis, wrestling, cheerleading and lacrosse tournaments. It boasts professional-level playing fields and infrastructure that can accommodate a wide array of sporting events and activities.

There are Plenty of Things to do in the Great Lakes Bay Region

Sporting events and tournaments can be (let’s face it) exhausting. So it helps to give participants and spectators ample opportunities to unwind — in whichever way they prefer.

And here’s the coolest thing about the Great Lakes Bay Region: It really can be fun for everyone. No matter your age, financial situation or interests, you won’t be bored when you “Go Great,” as the region’s marketing slogan puts it.

You think we’re exaggerating? Consider this: No matter where you are in the region, you’re just a short drive away from such varied activities as free disc golf at Tittabawassee Township Park, live music at Hamilton Street Pub, and — no joke — zip line trails at Adventure Park in Frankenmuth.

Adventure Park in Frankenmuth 01

If you’re looking for family fun, the Great Lakes Bay Region boasts the Mid-Michigan Children’s Museum, The Children’s Zoo at Celebration Square, and dozens of farms and orchards that let you pick your own fruit.

Craving some after-dark adventure? You can hop on the Appledore Tall Ship for a night cruise of Saginaw Bay and then slip into the WhichCraft Taproom or the Whine Bar for a frosty beverage or a smooth glass of vino when you return.

Simply put: If any visitors are bored between games, matches or competitions … well, it’s their own fault because there’s certainly enough to do!

X Factors

  • Family Friendly Attractions- Frankenmuth, Birch Run, Bay City, Midland
  • Affordability
  • “Housing System”

Planner Perspective

Midland, Michigan is a great city and a wonderful host for National and International Softball Events. From the ASA/USA Men’s Major National Fast Pitch Championships to the site of the team selection for the 2000 USA Women’s Olympic Team, and as host for multiple World Softball Championships Midland, has proven to be an exceptional host. The playing facilities in Midland are top notch and the fan base is very knowledgeable that has supported softball events for decades. Truly, Midland, Michigan provides outstanding accommodations, hospitality, and the support necessary to conduct world class events.

Ron Radlgonda, Executive Director, World Baseball Softball Confederation- Softball Division

The STSA Complex is one of the best complexes in the Midwest. The fields are first class and the complex is exceptionally maintained. STSA and the community have consistently  been strong supporters of events such as our State Cup, Junior State Cup, Director’s Academy Matches, Olympic Development Camps, etc. in 2012, STSA hosted the US Youth Soccer Regional Championships and received rave reviews!

Thomas Faro, Executive Director, Michigan State Youth Soccer Association, Inc.

The Saginaw Township Soccer Complex is an amazing venue. Our lacrosse tournament brings 100 teams from all over the Midwest and the #1 complument we receive is how impressed people are with the facility. In addition to the east parking, electricity, and standing restrooms, the most impressive aspect of this complex is the field quality. The fields are meticulously maintrained throughout the year and enable us to provide a championship experience in a championship-level enviorment.

Mary Greaney 

Facilities Overview

Midland Softball Fields

Sports: Softball

Located in the “Softball capital of Michigan,” the Midland Softball Fields comprise diamonds located at Emerson Park, Optimist Park and Redcoats Complex. With 17 fields total, all within a short distance of each other, it’s a softball tournament organizer’s dream. Fields have fence distances that vary from 175 feet to 300 feet, so you can accommodate all levels of play. The fields are even hosting the 2016 WBSC Junior Men’s Championship, adding to the area’s rich history of hosting national and international tournaments.

Greater Midland Tennis Center

Sports: Tennis

Tennis - Midland Tennis Center 4The Greater Midland Tennis Center is kind of a big deal — and a great place to host a tennis tournament. The largest tennis center in the Midwest, it boasts 16 indoor courts and 16 outdoor courts over 13 wooded acres, so chances are you’ll have room for everyone. And it is no stranger to big events, having hosted camps, tournaments and events for all ages — including the prestigious Dow Corning Tennis Classic, which draws the world’s up-and-coming professional women players. With a mezzanine that features a big screen TV and a fully decked-out pro shop, participants and spectators will have plenty to do between matches.

Saginaw Township Soccer Complex

Sports: Soccer, lacrosse

You want soccer fields? The Saginaw Township Soccer Complex has got ̓em — 22 to be exact, all in one location. That’s enough space to have hosted the 2012 U.S. Youth Soccer Midwest Regional Championship, which drew 210 teams from 14 states, as well as the annual Great LAX Bay Classic lacrosse tournament, which draws more than 100 teams each year. With all the fields together in one area, teams don’t have to drive to different facilities between games, and scouts can walk amongst the action with ease, observing a large number of players in a short time.

Dow Event Center

Sports: Hockey

Dow Event Center - Hockey 1As its “day job,” the Dow Event Center hosts Saginaw’s OHL hockey team, the Saginaw Spirit. So you know it can handle a raucous hockey game — and some raucous crowds. The arena seats 5,900 people for games and features a four-sided video scoreboard that will lend your tournament or event a decidedly professional feel. The center is home to more than the hockey arena, though. In fact, it’s an entire complex that consists of several parts, including comedy and theater spaces, banquet and conference rooms, and an event park that holds outdoor concerts.

Birch Run Expo Center

Sports: Cheerleading, wrestling, boxing, dog shows

Some sporting events are like cranky toddlers or surly teenagers — they just need some space. If your event needs room to sprawl out unimpeded, then Birch Run Expo Center is your ideal spot. The center offers more than 100,000 square feet of column-free space for indoor events, and more than 30 acres of property for outdoor activities. It has hosted cheerleading competitions with up to 3,000 participants and 7,000 spectators, as well as wrestling events that attracted 2,500 people. With ample parking and clean, renovated amenities, Birch Run Expo Center is just waiting to host your event.

Fishing on the Saginaw Bay and River

Fishing - With Mike Avery

Fishing – With Mike Avery

Sports: Fishing, ice fishing

What do you need to host a good fishing tournament? Water (duh), lots of fish (naturally) and a naturally beautiful area (preferably). Lucky for you, the Great Lakes Bay Region features all three in abundance. The area plays host to numerous fishing events throughout the year, including walleye tournaments, ice fishing schools and even a bowfishing championship. Anglers (and fishing event organizers) can choose between the 22.4-mile-long Saginaw River or the 1,143-square-mile Saginaw Bay. The waters contain such varied fish as lake trout, whitefish, perch, steelhead and northern pike, and the local competitive fishing infrastructure is strong enough to host any tournament.

How do I get to the Great Lakes Bay Region?

It may seem like the thumb web of “the mitten” would be tough to get to. But, on the contrary, it’s remarkably easy. The Great Lakes Bay Region is served by two international airports and four small craft ports, and is as easy to get to by car as any other place that’s right off a major interstate.

By Car: The Great Lakes Bay Region is virtually bisected by one of the nation’s busiest highways, Interstate 75. US-23 and US-127 are also arterial roads that flow into the region, providing easy access to the rest of the country.

By Air: MBS International Airport is located in the center of the Great Lakes Bay Region, between Midland, Bay City and Saginaw. Delta and United airlines both fly out of MBS, with top destinations including Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis and Atlanta. If you’re looking to fly into a bigger hub, Bishop International Airport, in Flint, is less than 50 miles away from the heart of the Great Lakes Bay Region.

Great Lakes Bay Region is Ready to Host Your Sports Event
Article Name
Great Lakes Bay Region is Ready to Host Your Sports Event
With top-notch sports facilities, unbeatable attractions and Central Michigan’s natural beauty, there’s no better place for your sports tournament than the Great Lakes Bay Region.
Publisher Name
Sports Planning Guide