In Greensboro, North Carolina, soccer teams are eager for the chance to compete at one of the top sports complexes in the Southeast − Smith Soccer Complex. The state-of-the-art facility boasts three fully lit, artificial turf fields designed specifically for year-round competition, as well as elite amenities to make every tournament memorable.
Greensboro offers Top-Notch Sports Facilities
The complex is operated by Greensboro United Soccer Association (GUSA), which has worked hard to build one of the best sports venues in the region. Much of that success has come from a strong relationship with the city, which started years ago after the association built Bryan Park, another elite soccer complex in Greensboro, says Pete Polonsky, executive director of GUSA. “The city started seeing the benefits of having a facility like this with regards to the traffic into the city, into the hotels.”
Greensboro noticed not only how valuable these kinds of complexes were to its economy, but also that they could boost its tournament-hosting capabilities. “So they asked us. ‘What can we do to help you make tournaments bigger and better?’” says Polonsky.
The organization has since made it their mission to work cohesively with the city through constant communication to ensure operations run smoothly and everyone is happy. “We have a very open relationship, I meet with them regularly…give them updates regularly to what’s going on with our events,” Polonsky says.
The organization and the city have made a number of changes and upgrades at Smith Soccer Complex. Keeping fields in pristine condition and investing in facility amenities are just some of the ways Greensboro United has bolstered the venue’s reputation. Yet there is always more that can be done.
“We have people out and about during events randomly asking people how they’re doing, where they’re from, what do you like about coming here, how many years you’ve been coming here,” says Polonsky. “We do some informal surveying to get feedback and we use that to try to improve things.”
Polonsky and his team have learned a lot over the years about how to best work with the convention and visitors bureau and the sports commission of Greensboro. “Be flexible with them,” says Polonsky. “Don’t always just say, ‘Hey, we need this.’” Because the fact of the matter is, municipal budgets are squeezed pretty tight, and simply requesting money to do something may not get the best return. Instead, when GUSA needs something, it approaches the city with a specific plan, as well as a strategy to help cover costs, since much of the financial burdens are shared and therefore projects should be tackled collaboratively.
In addition to being flexible with financials and various requests for the venue, the organization has to be accommodating with their tournament schedule. Since the city owns and takes care of all the fields, there needs to be enough time between events for their crew to care for them.
We have to be sensitive to their needs and know that grass gets worn out,” says Polonsky.
As a result, they have to be selective with events and not schedule too many consecutive tournaments. “The soccer coaches want to play all the time, and the facilities people want the fields to rest,” Polonsky says. “So there can be some give and take both parties have to be willing to accept.”
As for the Greensboro CVB and sports commission, they help a lot venues for GUSA. “I’ll go to them about putting together marketing materials, such as a brochure or power point presentation for a convention or trade show, and they help us with things like that,” Polonsky says. “They already have the resources to help, and so they do, because it will ultimately help them…their goal is to grow the sports business.”
It is this open communication and understanding of one another’s needs and concerns that has allowed Smith Soccer Complex to become such a well-known and sought after soccer complex. Hundreds of teams compete there every year on its three full-size fields, which can also be converted to six full 6v6 fields. It hosts major soccer events all year round, thanks to its state-of-the-art artificial turf, the same kind of surface that has been installed for Premier League clubs in Europe.
The action continues all year long at Smith, and Greensboro United makes it a mission to provide guests with a memorable soccer experience every time. It is this motivation, along with its strong professional relationship with the city, that has allowed it to build Smith Soccer Complex and other venues into some of the best in the Southeast.