Located along the west side of the Appalachian Mountains, Kentucky is known for its deep traditions in horse racing and bourbon making. Half of the state is made up of forest, making it an oasis for outdoor activities. Kentuckians have a real passion for sports, and they welcome all athletes and teams to their cities. Sports planners will find everything they need to host a successful event or tournament in Kentucky.
Sitting on the banks of the Ohio River at the intersection of three major highways, Louisville is a beautiful, historical city. It is the home of one of the most legendary racetracks, Churchill Downs, where the famed Kentucky Derby is run every year. While horseracing is a treasured pastime in Louisville, the city also has a strong tie to baseball, which is evidenced at the Louisville Slugger Museum. Along with its many sports attractions and venues, Louisville is easily accessible and has more than 100 hotels and 18,000 rooms in the metro area.
Downtown Arena opened in November 2010 and is the home of the University of Louisville men’s and women’s basketball teams, plus other sports like wrestling, volleyball, swimming, hockey and boxing. Seating capacity varies depending on the event, but can reach up to 22,000 people. The venue also has a practice area with a full-size court, so teams can warm up before hitting the court.
Bass-Rudd Tennis Center is located on the University of Louisville campus. It features six indoor courts, eight lighted outdoor courts with electronic scoreboards, locker rooms and training areas. Spectators can watch all the matches from the Wimbledon room that overlooks the courts.
A truly admired sports facility is Louisville Slugger Field, home of the Louisville Bats minor league baseball team, an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. It was named for the Slugger baseball bat, which is manufactured just down the road from the stadium. The venue offers athletes and fans a retro, classic playing environment, which is one of the main reasons people like putting on events there. It has seating for over 13,000 people and provides great views of the Ohio River.
Baseball seems to dominate the sports scene in Louisville, but football is also a popular game to watch. Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium is home to the University of Louisville football team. It underwent recent renovations to extend certain areas and boost capacity to 55,000 people. Sports planners can also use the venue to host soccer tournaments.
Lexington is located in the heart of Bluegrass Region and has strong ties to both the rolling waves of the grass and the music inspired by the area. But it also has a deep sports tradition. Known as the horse capital of the world, Lexington is where many of the world’s thoroughbreds are born, raised and trained before heading off to compete in events like the Kentucky Derby. Apart from its passion for horses, the city boasts a love for traditional sports thanks mostly to the presence of the University of Kentucky.
Whitaker Bank Ballpark, formerly known as Applebee’s Park, is home of the Lexington Legends minor league baseball team. Built in 2001, the stadium holds 6,500 spectators and is modeled after major league venues. It features a number of restaurants and specific viewing areas for families and children. The park caters to all levels of baseball teams, from amateur to collegiate.
Rupp Arena is where the championship University of Kentucky Wildcats play their home basketball games. The arena can hold up to 24,000 spectators and hosts a variety of sports events and tournaments. Sports planners will have no trouble getting everything they need for their sports event, as the venue can easily be transformed to accommodate various sports and tournament sizes.
Commonwealth Stadium is home to the University of Kentucky football team and thousands of fans gather in the confines of the venue for college games. Built in 1973, the stadium originally held 57,800 spectators, but over the years has undergone renovations and expansions and now accommodates 67,606 people. The facility is also slated to receive new video boards and an upgraded sound system for improved commentary and broadcasting of tournaments and matches.
KBA Sports is a 500,000-square-foot facility designed for youth sports leagues like basketball, volleyball and indoor soccer. The venue features five indoor basketball courts, full-service concessions and newly built training center where teams can warm up before matches. The facility can be converted to accommodate various sports, and bleacher seating is set up for games and tournaments.
Called the city of caves, lakes and Corvettes, Bowling Green is known for its beautiful natural landscape and its role in producing one of the most popular sports cars in the country. Located in the western part of the state, Bowling Green is not far from Nashville, Tenn., and Louisville. The locals are passionate about sports and enjoy watching a variety of athletic events, from baseball and soccer to auto racing and disc golf. Bowling Green also boasts friendly services, affordable prices and over 20 hotels that offer great group rates, not to mention a long list of sports venues that will satisfy any planner’s needs.
Bowling Green Ballpark is home to the Bowling Green Hot Rods, the Class A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. This facility offers sports teams a major league experience without the overwhelming size, especially since it features one of the biggest jumbo screens in the minor leagues. It has a seating capacity of 4,500, with two grass lawn seating areas that can handle any overflow of fans.
A popular multi-purpose facility is Michael O. Buchanan Park. It includes four lighted softball fields, two football practice fields and two soccer fields. The venue sits on 92 acres of open space, which means there is plenty of room to set up tournament headquarters, booths and spectator seating.
Western Kentucky University sits atop a hill overlooking Bowling Green. The college has a successful athletic program and offers state-of-the-art sporting facilities available to all sports planners. Houchens-Smith Stadium & Jimmy Feix Field is said to be one of the most beautiful and efficient college football stadiums in the country. It can seat 22,113 people, features Astroplay Synthetic Turf and has played host to a wide range of college tournaments, high school matches and amateur events.
Also on the university campus is E.A. Diddle Arena, which is home to the Hilltoppers basketball team. The basketball arena seats 7,326 people. The facility is flexible in its offerings and can be converted into six volleyball courts if necessary. It also features a practice gymnasium that can be divided by a wall to create two full-size college courts.
Kentucky has a strong heritage when it comes to classic sports events, especially horse racing and baseball. Its welcoming environment and friendly people make it easy to plan any kind of sports event, no matter what city you choose. So the next time you are looking for a place to host a tournament, consider the Bluegrass State and all its quality amenities.