While the most publicized event taking place in Akron, Ohio each year is The World Golf Championships’ Bridgestone Invitational in August, the Buckeye State’s fifth largest city always has a variety of youth sports taking place. With a prime location, big-city attractions and great facilities across the board, Akron has put itself on the youth sporting events map.
This beautiful downtown ballpark is home of the Cleveland Indians’ AA affiliate the Akron Aeros. Designed by the same architecture firm that did Cleveland’s Progressive Field and Camden Yards in Baltimore, the park’s classic setup features some of the best views of Akron’s skyline. The field has fine Kentucky bluegrass and the type of drainage system you would expect at a professional venue. With seating for over 9,000, Canal Park makes a great championship venue for high school baseball tournaments in the Akron area.
James A. Rhodes Arena
Known by students as the JAR, James A. Rhodes Arena is home to the University of Akron’s men’s and women’s basketball teams and its women’s volleyball squad. The 125,538-square-foot building seats 5,000 and can be arranged to accommodate basketball, volleyball, cheerleading and wrestling competitions. The arena’s ground level features locker rooms and meeting rooms, while the second floor has a 2,600-square-foot lounge and several multi-purpose rooms that can be used for archery, badminton or dancing.
Akron Sports Center
This 40,000-square-foot facility has 28-foot ceilings and is great for indoor basketball, volleyball and soccer tournaments. Four regulation basketball courts, eight volleyball courts and four indoor soccer courts all play on a state-of-the-art sport court flooring system. To really get creative when it’s cold outside try hosting an indoor lacrosse event, which the facility can accommodate by taking out its volleyball nets and basketball hoops. The venue has also hosted karate and roller derby events.
Home to the University of Akron’s swimming and diving programs, the Ocasek Natatorium is just seven years old and cost $6.5 million to build. The 64,000-square-foot facility’s Olympic-size pool has eight lanes and seating for 1,000. Events can choose whether they want to use three- or five-meter starting platforms, or one- or three-meter springboards. Diving events take place in the same 835,000-gallon pool, and the venue has the added plus of nine handball and racquetball courts in addition to two weight rooms.
Tallmadge Recreation Center and North Avenue Soccer Complex
Just 15 minutes outside of downtown Akron in the town of Tallmadge you’ll find both the Tallmadge Recreation Center and North Avenue Soccer Complex. The recreation center is a 100,000-square-foot facility with four full-size basketball courts and an indoor soccer court. The venue is flexible and can be made to fit your event—from badminton to kickboxing. Five minutes down the road the soccer complex has three full-size fields, three junior fields, restrooms, a concession building and parking for 180 cars.
Whether it’s acquiring coupons, blocking off hotel rooms or trying to coordinate your event between multiple venues, the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission is known for its ability to customize event packages. With such a large area of coverage, the commission can supply you with as many additional options as necessary to meet your event’s needs.
Attractions and Accommodations
Akron’s facilities are serious about making sure that your experience on the competition field is a positive one, but sports planners know that isn’t the only thing that goes into a great event. There’s nothing to fear here though, as the Akron area is stocked with plenty of attractions, restaurants and accommodations to keep athletes and parents happy before and after games.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is a half hour south of Akron in Canton. Guests can follow the game of football through the years and see the greats of the game enshrined in the hall, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Proclaimed by many as the best amusement park in the world, Cedar Point is about an hour and a half from Akron, and can serve as a great trip on days off in longer tournaments. The Akron area also has all the standard entertainment options (water parks, mini-golf, theaters, etc.) and Cleveland is just 45 minutes north.
Like many stops in Ohio, Akron is known for serving up good old-fashioned Midwestern comfort food. Swenson’s Drive In is known for its juicy burgers, and Forbes said it has America’s Best Cheeseburger in 1999. Crave in downtown Akron puts an elegant spin on comfort food classics, and the rest of the area features everything from seafood shacks and steakhouses to fine Italian and Middle Eastern cuisine.
Whatever budgets families bring to your event, Akron has the accommodations to suit them. With over 60 motels, chain hotels and suite options in Akron, there are more than enough rooms to go around. Families may also be interested in one of the bed-and-breakfast options in the area.
Getting to Akron and Getting Around
The Akron-Canton Airport is 20 minutes south of downtown, and for teams coming from farther away the Cleveland Hopkins International airport is just 45 minutes north of Akron. Drivers from Pittsburgh and Columbus can expect the trip to take about two hours, while Detroit is three hours away and Cincinnati and Buffalo are both about a three-and-a-half-hour trip.
Downtown Akron isn’t large enough to cause major traffic headaches, but does provide public buses. Taxis run throughout the city as well, and Akron is home to all of the major car rental brands.