Ranked 24th in population among U.S. states, South Carolina has become a leader in sports tourism. Location and accessibility are always important, but it’s facilities and hospitality that maintain the state’s leadership. South Carolina destinations certainly have their share of new venues, however, it’s the continuous upgrades and maintenance of existing venues keeping the Palmetto State in a leadership role.
In Greenville, the new Copa Indoor Soccer venue is the only state-of-the art indoor soccer facility in the Upstate. The facility has two professional grade
playing grounds. Though the main usage of the field is for indoor soccer leagues and training, several other sports are able to use the facility, creating a versatile option for many looking for a safe indoor sports venue.
The J.B. Red Owens Sports Complex in Easley has further enhanced the facility with new batting and pitching cages built to protect players from the weather. New wiring has also been installed on the championship field to enhance the ESPN broadcast. Nearby Clemson University is adding new campus athletic venues, including rectangular fields and sand volleyball courts. The Southern Wesleyan University Joe R. Gilbert Track and Field facility is already welcoming track and field competitions.
On the coast, the North Myrtle Beach Park & Sports Complex has taken its outstanding competition fields and enhanced them with great amenities for both competition and recreation. This year, the big addition was Shark Lake Park. Cable wakeboarding is an extreme adventure that uses cables and does not require a boat. Myrtle Beach venues are streaming all games live and providing Gatorade for every bench.
In the Midlands, Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission introduced the Palmetto Health Fields at Saluda Shoals Park featuring six natural turf fields perfect for soccer, lacrosse and other sports. In preparation for hosting Division I Men’s Basketball Championship rounds one and two, the University of South Carolina Colonial Life Arena will have a new scoreboard and lighting.
Sumter plans to break ground this fall on the first of three phases at the Palmetto Tennis Center (PTC). First will be a new entranceway and plaza and a 3,000-square- foot, two-story operations building. Additional courts will follow with a stadium court, six standard courts and an official youth court doubling as pickle ball courts. All PTC courts are lighted hard courts with deco turf surface; a surface made for tennis professionals.
South Carolina sports tourism destinations boast venues that appeal to virtually every sporting event. However, it’s the partnerships displayed on the state, regional and local level that have contributed to its success. It certainly begins with the South Carolina Sports Alliance (SCSA).
A nonprofit organization, its purpose is to promote and develop the continued success of the sports industry in South Carolina. The alliance provides a forum for education, exchange of information and all things in the hospitality arena related to sports tourism.
That same spirit of cooperation flows down to the 25 individual partners of SCSA. Although local government officials may desire to keep events and
the accompanying tourism dollars in their own jurisdiction, sports tourism officials know it’s often better to have a piece of the pie, then none of the pie.
It’s with that cooperative attitude that often brings Spartanburg, Greenville, Easley or Clemson together for major events. Experience Columbia SC Sports, Irmo-Chapin Recreation, Lexington County Recreation & Aging Commission and the Richland County Recreation Commission are in continuous partnership. The Myrtle Beach Regional Sports Alliance consists of 12 cities and two counties, allowing the area to pursue virtually every type of sporting event.
Venues and partnerships are what South Carolina is made of.