What’s so special about Wilmington and Beaches?

The South seems to excel when it comes to holding sports events, but North Carolina’s Wilmington may take the crown as the best host city south of the Mason-Dixon Line. This town, along with its three island beaches, presents itself as a triple-threat composed of sports facilities, award winning landscapes and a history of culture and charm. Wilmington and its three beaches – Carolina, Kure and Wrightsville – offer the perks of oceanside living with the amenities and bustle of a big city, providing visitors with an enticing mixture of relaxation and adventure that your teams will love.

At the end of the day, choosing Wilmington comes down to the fact that the city’s sports event prowess is tried and true. Its hosting capabilities have already been tested by events like the Seaside Soccer Classic and PPD Beach2Battleship Iron Distance Triathlon, and the city and its island beaches have triumphantly risen to the challenge. Wilmington and Beaches are sure to do the same for your event.

What can my teams do in Wilmington and Beaches?

Since the Wilmington and Beaches area offers your teams both the excitement of a city and the relaxing vibes of the ocean, it has an almost endless array of activities that encompass each of its different “personalities.” Stay in Wilmington, where your teams can stroll along the Riverwalk and explore the charming shops, delicious cafes and scenic views that earned it the title of America’s Best Riverfront. Spend an afternoon hitting the rides at Jungle Rapids waterpark or catching a cruise down the Cape Fear River, then stop by one of the town’s seafood restaurants to enjoy freshly caught fish, crab or lobster. Once you’ve gotten your fill of Wilmington, head to the neighboring island beaches. Here, your teams can stroll down the Carolina Beach boardwalk and enjoy a fireworks show, catch family-friendly music in a park on Kure Beach or go paddle boarding through the Wrightsville Beach surf.

X Factors

  • Social media support on leisure channels (primarily Facebook and Twitter)
  • Local (Wilmington area) PR support
  • Volunteer staff
  • Local business “welcome” signage
  • Site visits
  • Transportation for teams hosting events at the Wilmington Convention Center
  • Discounts to local attractions when available

Planner Perspective

Carolina Beach has embraced our event and been great to work with! Our participants look forward to the laidback atmosphere and true Southern hospitality. The new boardwalk is the perfect location for our event, and we look forward to our time in Carolina Beach each year.

Ed Duncan, North Carolina USA Wrestling

Event: USA Beach Wrestling National Championships

The Coastline Conference and Event Center was an excellent venue for our Tailgating Games Championship. This building has lots of character and great outdoor areas for our players to mingle around while they were not playing. The staff was amazing and very flexible to accommodate our needs for long hours with unknown closing times and great options for food and beverage.

Stacey Moore, American Tailgating League

Event: ATL Game Championships

Can I get some quick facts about Wilmington’s facilities?

Wilmington Convention Center

Sports: Volleyball, tennis, badminton

As the largest convention venue on the coast of North Carolina, WCC offers WCC offers 107,000 of meeting space, 30k of which is the exhibit hall, that can accommodate indoor sports like volleyball, tennis and badminton. This exhibit hall comes with two restrooms and a concession area, and the center offers parking for almost 600 cars.

Althea Gibson Tennis Complex

Sports: Tennis

This complex offers 19 outdoor tennis courts complete with lighting and 1,500 square-foot clubhouse. The clubhouse includes a lounge, meeting rooms and snack counter. Althea Gibson offers ball machines for rent and has hosted events like the Smash Cancer Charity Tournament.

Legion Sports Complex

Sports: Soccer

This 6,000-seat stadium is home to Wilmington’s MLS team, the Hammerheads, and comes with four acres of paved parking. The stadium offers a fully equipped concession stand, a press box, and home and visitor fieldhouses. The field itself is artificial turf.

Olsen Park

Sports: Baseball, softball

Located right next to downtown Wilmington, Olsen Park offers five fields that can be used both for baseball and softball. Additionally, the park has a picnic area, concession stand and playground.

Carolina Beach and Kure Beach

Sports: Water sports, fishing

Home to crystalline waters and tons of fish, Carolina Beach has hosted fishing tournaments like the Carolina Spring Flatfish Tournament and Ruler of Kings Mackerel Tournament. Its surf is perfect for water sports like waterskiing, tubing and kite surfing.

Like Carolina Beach, Kure Beach naturally lends itself to popular water sports and has also hosted an impressive list of fishing tournaments. Anglers can drop lines right off the Kure Beach Pier during the annual Carolina Fall Flatfish Tournament, Carolina Fall King Challenge and the weeks-long King Tournament.

Wrightsville BeachCarolina Cup at Wrightsville Beach

Sports: Water sports, fishing

In the past few years, Wrightsville Beach has hosted the Fishing with Special Friends event as well as the Cape Fear Blue Marlin Tournament, annual Wrightsville Beach Inshore Challenge and many others.

University of North Carolina Wilmington

Sports: basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, soccer, swimming/diving, track & field, tennis

University of North Carolina Wilmington offers a plethora of athletic facilities. For basketball, Trask Coliseum seats 6,100 fans. Connected to Trask Coliseum is Hanover Hall, which hosts volleyball events. Brooks Field and Boseman Field satisfy all baseball and softball needs, respectively. UNCW Soccer Stadium features a full-size regulation field, two practice fields and seating for 3,000. The 2,700-square-foot Seahawk Natatorium is one of the finest in college ranks for swimming and diving. Harold Greene Track and Field Complex is an Olympic-class track facility. UNCW Tennis Complex offers 12 asphalt courts.

Cape Fear Regional Soccer Complex

Sports: Soccer

Cape Fear Regional Soccer Complex features seven soccer fields spanning 65 acres. Amenities include restrooms and locker rooms, and equipment is on hand including soccer balls, goals, corner flags and benches.

So how do I get my teams there?

Just up the coast from Charleston and Georgetown, Wilmington and the nearby island beaches hug the Atlantic coast and are a mere two hours east of capital city Raleigh.

By Car: Wilmington is accessed by I-40 and highways 421 and 17. In addition to Raleigh, major cities under six hours away from Wilmington include Charlotte, North Carolina; Charleston, South Carolina; Atlanta, Savannah, Georgia; Virginia Beach, Virginia; and Washington, D.C.

By Air: Wilmington International Airport (ILM) is just eight minutes away from the center of Wilmington and is serviced by American Airlines and Delta. Fly into Myrtle Beach International Airport and enjoy an hour and a half drive up the scenic coastline. Alternately, Raleigh-Durham Airport is two hours away from Wilmington.