For some people, South Carolina’s claim to travel destination fame may rest squarely on its sandy beaches and swaying palms (or palmettos, if you want to be regionally specific.) For others, a cuisine anchored by shrimp and grits, fried chicken, and other delicacies may spring to mind. For sports travel planners, though, South Carolina brings to mind a planner’s dream of warm weather and quality event venues. So, which South Carolina will your group choose?

They don’t have to choose; they can have it both ways. In Florence, South Carolina-bound sports travel groups can play their tournaments and enjoy good old Southern hospitality afterwards. And with Myrtle Beach a quick trip down the expressway, almost any combination of sun, sand and warm-weather sport is possible. Call it the best of both worlds.

Florence bills itself as the Amateur Sports Destination of the Southeast, and it has a reasonable claim to the title. It’s hosted the USTA SC Mixed Doubles State Championship for several years running. Its climate and facilities – including those on Francis Marion University’s campus – make it ideal for tennis, baseball, softball, soccer and other field sports.

What Relaxing Activities Will My Sports Travel Group Enjoy in Florence?

Once the gear has been packed and the day’s score settled, it’s time to relax and enjoy life off the playing field. And in Florence, you can take a civilized approach to this part of sports travel planning. Here you’ll find Civil and Revolutionary War museums to visit, live entertainment to take in, and plenty of strolling to do in and out of the city.

If a window into the past is likely to resonate with your group, they’ll want to check out the Florence County Museum and the War Between the States Museum. Each March, there’s a reenactment of a Civil War skirmish at Columns Plantation.

In town, you can catch a show at the Florence Civic Center, where everything from the circus to the Beach Boys have stopped by. Or take in a local performance at the Francis Marion University Performing Art Center or Florence’s own Little Theatre. Florence’s downtown area is a great place to stroll, browse, eat and generally enjoy life.

And don’t forget the great outdoors when it’s time to relax. Anchored as it is by the region’s namesake Pee Dee River (and in the city itself, by Jeffries Creek), Florence has a trail and park system that invites a steady saunter or a quiet rest.

X Factors

  • Assistance in locating accommodations and negotiating group rates
  • Assistance in securing facilities and organizing site visits
  • Promotion of events through our social media, regional calendar and local media outlets
  • Provide entertainment options unique to teams’ interests

Planner Perspective

We loved working with the Florence Area Sports Council! They were incredibly easy to work with and very responsive. Jade was able to answer my questions and definitely went above and beyond for us. I wish all of our CVB and Sports Commission contacts were like that!

 Lindsay Judd, Color Vibe

American Cornhole has had a wonderful experience in working with Jade Perkins and the Florence Area Sports Council. They are always extremely helpful and attentive to our needs. We have enjoyed working with them on the development of the Pecan Classic and look forward to returning to Florence for another successful event this year.

– Frank Geers, American Cornhole Organization

Florence Sports Venues

Dr. Eddie Floyd Florence Tennis Center

Sports: Tennis

Since its founding in 2011, the Dr. Eddie Floyd Florence Tennis Center has been the area’s premier place to play, averaging about 13 events every year. With 24 asphalt courts, six clay courts and a 5,000-square-foot activity area, it has the space to host tournaments. In fact, there is a partnership with McLeod Health Systems for the annual October Ladies Pro Circuit Tennis Tournament, now named the McLeod for Health Florence Open, to benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Lowcountry, of which the Pee Dee is included. In the activity center, additional amenities include a lounge area, a study area, restrooms, locker rooms, showers, and space for meetings or offices. A pro shop rounds out the indoor amenities; outside, guests will find ample parking space and easy access to and from town.

Freedom Florence Recreation Complex

Sports: Softball, football, gymnastics

This 100-acre, multi-use park is part of Florence’s Parks and Recreation Department, and it was purpose-built to provide an elite, beautiful site for tournaments. Sport-ready areas at the complex include nine lit softball fields, three football fields and a roomy, 11,600-square-foot gymnastics center. Outdoor amenities are just as extensive; they include a lake, picnic areas, an amphitheater, and a selection of trails. While access to the majority of the park is free, most tournaments will require some kind of usage fee. Freedom Florence Recreation Complex averages approximately 50 events each year.

Sparrow Stadium at Francis Marion University

Sports: Baseball, Softball, Soccer

Sparrow Stadium, which includes Clifford S. Cormell Field, is a new, state-of-the-art venue for baseball. The facility has seating for 900 with a capacity of 1,755. Onsite amenities include a concessions area, a single ticketing area, restrooms, VIP room and a press box. Sparrow Stadium is part of the university’s $11.1-million R. Gerald Griffin Athletic Complex, which includes a lake, soccer and softball stadiums, and a fieldhouse.

Note: The university’s former baseball facility, also named Cormell Field, is used by Florence-Darlington Technical College.

Florence Civic Center

Sports: Florence Civic Center

At 50,000 square feet, the Florence Civic Center is the largest convention facility in the northwestern part of South Carolina. It includes a 10,000-seat arena, a 14,500-square foot ballroom and several smaller meeting rooms. The arena covers 29,000 square feet, and the facility comes packed with amenities, including four breakout rooms, five dressing rooms, corporate suites, facility-wide wi-fi and available catering. In-house personnel can help with planning your event.

Darlington Raceway

Sports: Racing

Generated by IJG JPEG Library

Generated by IJG JPEG Library

One of the Florence area’s premier sports venues, Darlington Raceway hosts numerous events each year, including the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles’ Southern 500®. This year, NASCAR racing will return to its historic Labor Day weekend date on Sept. 6. Other upcoming events include the Greater Darlington Chamber of Commerce’s annual July 4th bash Freedom Fest, NASCAR XFINITY series VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 on Sept. 5, and November’s Speed and Feed BBQ Cook-Off and Car Show presented by Sam Carbis Solutions Group. Track rentals and tours are available. Other onsite race weekend amenities include camping and RV areas. The Darlington Raceway Stock Car Museum and NMPA Hall of Fame are open year-round, excluding holidays and weekends.

How Can My Sports Travel Group Get to Florence?

One of seven counties in South Carolina’s Pee Dee River Region, Florence is about 90 minutes away from Myrtle Beach and within a few hours’ drive of Charleston and Charlotte.

By Car: Both I-20 and I-95 lead to Florence County. It’s approximately midway between New York City and Miami.

By Air: Florence is served by the Florence Regional Airport, which accepts flights from US Airways. Charlotte-Douglas International Airport (2.5 hours) and Myrtle Beach International Airport (1.5 hours) greater range of flight options.