Featured image credit: Chad Austin
With a world-famous racing short track, professional and collegiate facilities and a great history and heritage, Hickory’s roots run deep in North Carolina sporting lore.
What started as a single log tavern built under a hickory tree eventually became the city of Hickory in 1873, giving a fitting backstory to Hickory’s motto of “Life. Well Crafted.” Present-day Hickory straddles three counties in Catawba, Caldwell and Burke and houses one of the largest movie theaters in the state, only appropriate given that Hickory’s landscapes and buildings were used to shoot the dystopian backdrops in The Hunger Games film franchise.
Hickory isn’t just about entertainment, however; it’s a big sports town too. Here you’ll find the Hickory Motor Speedway, one of the most famous short tracks in the history of American stock car racing. If you’re in town for a tournament or an event, consider a stay at any of Hickory’s fine lodging accommodations, including the Hampton Inn Hickory, the Courtyard Marriott, or the Fairfield Inn & Suites.
Notable Recent/Upcoming Events
- XCEL Regional Gymnastics Competition at the Hickory Metro Convention Center: May 2-5, 2019 with over 1500 gymnasts from 8 southeastern states – Hickory Metro Convention Center
- United States Powerlifting Association: East “2020 Drug Tested Collegiate National Championship” – February 14-16, 2020 – Hickory Metro Convention Center
- Lady Bass Anglers Association Pro Tour – March 29-30, 2019 – Lake Hickory
- Cycle NC Mountains to Coast Ride – September 29-30, 2019 – Highland Recreation Center
CVB/Sports Commissions Services Offered
- Event Planning Assistance
- Grant Programs
- Itinerary Development
- Lodging Services
- PR/Media Assistance
- Site Visits
- Transportation Assistance
- Volunteer Staff
- Welcome Bags/Gifts
Click on tab to see more information about a specific facility
- Hickory Metro Convention Center
- Henry Fork Regional Recreation Park
- Rock Barn Country Club & Spa
- Lake Hickory (Catawba River)
- Catawba Meadows Park
- Highland Recreation Center
- Lenoir-Rhyne University
Hickory Metro Convention Center
As one of the premier trade show and meeting locations in the Southeast, the Hickory Metro Convention Center features more than 76,000 square feet of meeting space, making it ideal for tournament planners looking to host fantastic indoor events. The center hosted the XCEL Regional Gymnastics Competition in May 2019, which drew in more than 1,500 gymnasts from eight southeastern states. Additionally, it will host the United States Powerlifting Association’s 2020 Drug Tested Collegiate National Championship from February 14-16.
Sports: Multipurpose indoor
Henry Fork Regional Recreation Park
With eight soccer fields, an 8,000-square-foot picnic shelter, picnic tables and grills, an alpine tower ropes course, two playgrounds, a concession stand, walking trail, canoe launch and horseshoe pits, this multiuse park is ideal for soccer, lacrosse, rugby and other sports.
Sports: Canoeing, running, soccer
Rock Barn Country Club & Spa
With a foundation tracing back to the early 19th century, this gorgeous country club has a storied history, one which grew to include golf in 1966 when it added The Rock Barn Club of Golf to its grounds. Today the club features two championship golf courses which have yielded praise from Golf Digest. The club was chosen as the host site for the American Junior Golf Association Championship in summer 2021.
Lake Hickory (Catawba River)
Take in the magisterial beauty of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains when you plan an outdoor tournament on Lake Hickory. Fishing tournaments are popular here during the summer months, when the lake has an abundance of largemouth bass, striped bass, crappie and channel catfish. Lake Hickory hosted a Lady Bass Angles Association Pro Tour event in late March 2019 and an episode of “Fishing University” in 2018.
Sports: Boating, fishing, swimming
Catawba Meadows Park
With the Catawba River Greenway serving as a border, this multipurpose park is an ideally located hotspot for tournament planners. The park features five lighted Little League baseball fields, four lighted youth and adult softball and baseball fields, a field house with concessions, a disc golf course with 18 holes, an umpires and coaches meeting room and much more.
Sports: Baseball, disc golf, multipurpose indoor, softball
Highland Recreation Center
With two regulation sized basketball and volleyball courts, as well as four pickleball courts, the Highland Recreation Center has your indoor tournament needs covered. Three softball fields are also available to rent. The center was used as part of the Cycle NC Mountains to Coast Ride, held in late September 2019.
Sports: Basketball, pickleball, volleyball
Home to the Lenoir-Rhyne University Bears athletic programs—which compete in the NCAA Division II South Atlantic Conference—plenty of fine facilities can be found throughout LRU’s campus. The Neill McGeachy Sports Performance Center opened on September 7, 2019, featuring 14,000 square feet of multiuse training space, a weight room, nutrition bar, indoor turf training area, meeting rooms and more.
The Lenoir-Rhyne University Baseball Field has a seating capacity of 500, as does Bears Field, LRU’s softball complex. Bears Field recently added a new backstop. Helen and Leonard Moretz Stadium underwent a state-of-the-art remodel in 2015 to install and LED football scoreboard as well as FieldTurf, a new drainage system and several other improvements.
Sports: Baseball, basketball, cross-country, football, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track and field
What is There to Do in Hickory?
Interactive displays and educational teachings can be found at the Catawba Science Center, which combines a science technology children’s museum with a salt and freshwater aquarium and a state-of-the-art digital planetarium theater. The best dinner, holiday and private chartered boat cruises in Catawba Valley can be found onboard one of the vessels at Lake Hickory Adventures.
Catch a ballgame with the Hickory Crawdads, the Class A affiliate of the Texas Rangers. Always a strong contender in the South Atlantic League, the Crawdads entertain the masses at L.P. Frans Stadium. Downtown Hickory yields a fantastic communal feel as you explore a bevy of local retail shops, locally-owned restaurants and breweries, entertainment options, theatrical pursuits and more.
Feel the adrenaline pumping through your veins at TreeTop Adventures, which has a perfect assortment of adventure courses, camps and team-building activities to showcase Lake Hickory’s best climbs and zip-lines.
“Everybody loves it here, it’s beautiful. It (Lake Hickory) is the perfect size for a competition such as this one. It offers a variety of fishing experiences depending on how the anglers prefer to fish.”
– Secret York, co-founder of LBAA and winner of the 2017 LBAA tournament on Lake Hickory.
How to Get to Hickory?
Hickory is conveniently located off Interstate 40, which connects Knoxville to the west with Raleigh to the east. If you’re flying in, Charlotte Douglas International Airport is around 42 miles away in Charlotte.
Company Name: Visit Hickory Metro
Sports Sales Manager: Sarah Davis, CMP
Title: Director of Sales & Marketing