Juli Anne Patty 2013-05-01 03:00:32
The Next Generation of Great Games: Conway, Arkansas CONWAY, ARKANSAS, HAS LONG BEEN A FAVORITE destination, known as a charming small town with the resources and amenities of a much bigger city. That quality has attracted a growing, enthusiastic population, making Conway one of the fastest-growing cities in Arkansas for several years running. Making the most of its burgeoning population, Conway has managed its growth strategically, investing in a wealth of sports infrastructure as well as event planning tools that have placed this growing town at the pinnacle of sports destinations. A New Window to the Web Creating a vast inventory of excellent sports and tourism facilities is only beneficial if someone knows about them, and that’s why the Conway Convention and Visitors Bureau recently launched its new website. “Our goal was to offer our guests and event planners a web portal that would put all of Conway’s amazing experience and resources at our visitors’ fingertips,” says Rachel Earls, director of destination marketing, Conway Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The new website is much more user-friendly and offers tools for event planning.” The new Conway CVB website offers a continually updated calendar of events as well as the forms necessary to apply for funding support from the City of Conway Advertising & Promotion Commission (A&P Commission), created by the City Council to facilitate tourism and the promotion of the City of Conway. The Advertising and Promotion Commission collects taxes on hotel/motel accommodations and levies taxes on all prepared food and beverages, then allocates funding to qualifying events. The Best in Baseball The city’s new website is just one way to check out Conway’s deep bench of exceptional baseball facilities, an inventory that demonstrates the city’s enduring passion for America’s pastime. Central Arkansas Sports Management (CASM) is one of the area’s baseball powerhouses, organizing more than 40 tournaments in 2012. “Baseball has huge support and enthusiasm in Conway,” says Earls. “We have a youth baseball tournament every weekend throughout the season.” Along with that support and passion come standout baseball facilities. Arkansas Recreation and Parks Association named Conway’s City of Colleges Softball Park its 2010 Facility of the Year, and Conway Station Baseball Park its 2011 Facility of the Year. City of Colleges Park: • Five manicured, lit fields • Warm-up pitching area at every dugout • Covered stadium seating • Large main entrance building with immaculate restrooms and concession area • Continually updated facilities and features. Conway Station Park: • Nine manicured fields • Warm-up pitching area at every dugout • Covered stadium seating • State-of-the-art lighting and fencing • Large main entrance building with immaculate restrooms and concession area. The Full Package Of course, baseball isn’t the only game in town. Conway has become known among sports event planners for its firstrate facilities, convenient location on Interstate 40, and wealth of family-friendly attractions and activities to enjoy away from the field. Conway’s three colleges, which earned the area its nickname “City of Colleges” along with its parks and recreational facilities, position Conway to accommodate thousands of participants and spectators annually for baseball, softball, volleyball and basketball tournaments as well as multiple soccer, cheer, dance and gymnastics events throughout the year. Conway’s roster includes a variety of fine sports facilities: Buzz Bolding Arena: seating for 1,800, hosts basketball, volleyball, cheerleading and gymnastics events Cadron Settlement Park: six acres of cleared bike trails, ideal for mountain biking events Centennial Soccer Complex: four lit fields, eight unlit fields Conway Expo Center & Fairgrounds: Event Center with 6,222 square feet of meeting space, Expo Center with 40,779 square feet of covered space and an openair pavilion measuring 55,000 square feet Conway Sports Center: a 44,000- square-foot facility that can be used for basketball, volleyball and is open to the public daily. Don Owen Complex: three basketball courts, three lit baseball fields (300’- 320’), six volleyball courts, walking track Hendrix College Facilities: three basketball courts, one baseball field (320’), one lacrosse field, one soccer field, one softball field (210’), four volleyball courts, Olympic-size swimming pool and a track Lake Beaverfork: 1,000-acre lake that is ideal for swimming, boating, jet skiing, fishing Lake Conway: the largest U.S. man-made game and fish commission lake in the country, this 6,700-acre lake is perfect for bass, catfish, bream and crappie fishing McGee Center: three basketball courts, six volleyball courts and a walking track University of Central Arkansas Facilities: four basketball courts, one baseball field (new turf), three soccer fields, four softball fields (three 300’ and one 225’), five volleyball courts, heated swimming pool, Pepsi Center (an indoor turf facility that is half the size of a football field). “Our range of facilities allows us to accommodate events year-round,” says Earls. “Volleyball is a sport that comes to Conway almost every weekend throughout the winter, and soccer is another widely popular sport that comes to town often. We even hosted a 3v3 live soccer tournament here last winter. The 89 teams that came for the tournament were big fans of the perfect weather. Even in December, we had highs in the 60s.” Stay and Play Sports events provide one of Conway’s most popular forms of entertainment, but this city has a little something for everyone, on and off the field. Residents and visitors alike can find a variety of entertainment venues as well as free and ticketed cultural events throughout the city. The area’s natural beauty makes Conway a great place for an outdoor adventure as well. From fishing and boating to swimming and other water sports, the aquatic opportunities are endless, coupled with plentiful hiking trails and picnic and camping areas. You can also find everything you want or need in Conway, which has become a shopping destination for central Arkansans. No matter where your event or hotel, shopping options in Conway abound. The Interstate 40 corridor is home to numerous department stores, furniture stores and specialty shops. Antique stores, clothing and jewelry boutiques, and highend consignment shops line the streets of downtown Conway, and the city’s core features a growing mix of shopping centers. On the west side of town, national and local retailers provide residents with convenient neighborhood shopping. Conway is home to hundreds of restaurants and more than 1,200 hotel rooms, ensuring that no matter what your space or budget requirements, Conway has something to make everyone happy. A History of High Standards Founded in the mid-1800s by A. P. Robinson, the chief engineer for the Little Rock-Fort Smith Railroad (now the Union-Pacific), Conway Station, as it was originally called, contained two small stores, two saloons, a depot, some temporary housing and a post office. For many years, Conway flourished as a trade center for a large rural agricultural area. Hendrix College was established in Conway in 1890. Three years later, in 1893, Central College for Girls was established, and the University of Central Arkansas followed shortly after, founded in Conway in 1907 as the Arkansas Normal School. The City of Colleges was firmly established, building a solid economy that, until World War II, was based on agriculture and education. After the war, Conway began diversifying, quickly attracting several small industries to the area including additional state institutions, such as the headquarters for the Off ice of Emergency Services, the Human Development Center, and the Arkansas Educational Television Network. Today, Conway also has a sizable industrial and technological base. The city remains one of the fastestgrowing areas in Arkansas, boasting a current population of more than 55,000, located only 30 miles from Little Rock. Location is just another of Conway’s attractive qualities, located just outside the Little Rock metro region, while staying well beyond the hustle and expense of the city. Conway retains its small-town charm in the midst of major growth in the same way it knocks every event out of the park: with a heart for sports and a strategy for smart growth. Find out more about Arkansas’ most charming sports city at www.conway ark.com.
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