Peter Francesconi 2016-09-26 23:34:56
LEWISVILLE, TEXAS A Growing Sports Experience in Lewisville GREAT SPORTS TOURISM is all about a great experience. And for tournaments and events, it’s hard to beat the experience — for organizers, athletes, families, coaches and fans — of playing in Lewisville, Texas. “Working with the city of Lewisville has just been tremendous,” says Tracy Black, the general manager of the Flower Mound Youth Sports Association and tournament director of the American Amateur Youth Baseball Association (AAYBA) Texas World Series. “The Lewisville Parks Department, at every level, is hardworking, dedicated and committed to helping you have the best event possible.” Black has been bringing baseball events to Lewisville for 10 years. “This year, we have 300 teams and about 4,000 youth athletes participating. In some years, it’s gone as high as 500 teams,” he says. “That’s a lot of baseball, and a lot of work, and it couldn’t be done without the support of the Lewisville CVB and Parks staffs. Every time two teams take to the diamonds, the fields look like these are the first teams to play on them that day.” Maggi Long, board president of Pirouettes of Texas (PTX) Synchronized Swimming, says it’s not just the great Westside Aquatics Center venue that makes Lewisville a special place for PTX, but also the convenient location and fantastic support from the CVB. “We’re starting our third year hosting events in Lewisville,” she notes. The location is close to DFW International Airport, the pool facility is incredible, and the city and its staff have been so welcoming and helpful with our programs and what we’re doing.” Event owners also praise the support from local residents and businesses. “We love bringing tournaments to Lewisville,” says Dominic Falcinelli, the assistant director of soccer for Prime Time Sports. “Toyota of Lewisville Railroad Park is first class, and with the proximity to restaurants, hotels and shopping, and with the local support we get, the city is hard to beat. Between the city and all the attractions, it’s a great place to be.” Lewisville, a northern suburb of Dallas/ Fort Worth, is one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S., according to U.S Census Bureau data. With its population around 100,000, the city is home to topnotch sports complexes, several dozen sports fields, a natatorium considered among the finest in area and much more. In addition, Lewisville is home to two dozen hotels, many built or renovated in recent years, and more hotels and restaurants continue to be planned and built. “All of this investment and building over the last decade has helped to create a tremendous boost in sports tourism,” says Carlos Hernandez, the sports and tourism sales coordinator for the Lewisville CVB. Top Venues and Facilities Hernandez was one of the CVB’s first employees when it was formed in 2005, and he has been on the front lines of this growth in sports tourism. “Obviously, the great venues we have here have played a key role,” he says. Among the top locations for outdoor sports are Toyota of Lewisville Railroad Park and Lewisville Lake Park. The 250- acre Railroad Park has eight lighted soccer fields, four lighted football fields and four lighted baseball diamonds, with three concessions stands, a dog park, skate park, lakes and more. Lewisville Lake Park has eight lighted baseball fields, two lighted adult softball fields, eight lighted soccer fields, concessions and more. In addition to fields at Railroad Park and Lake Park, Hernandez says the CVB also works with neighboring communities to accommodate large events. For instance, the Bakersfield Complex and the Chinn Chapel Soccer Park, both in nearby Flower Mound, have another nine and five fields, respectively. The Colony Five-Star Complex can contribute another six fields. The Greater Lewisville Area Soccer Association is the second largest youth soccer organization in Texas, and it hosts several regional tournaments, often utilizing multiple facilities. Hernandez says the city is continually upgrading and improving its sports venues. For instance, the soccer complex at Lake Park will see new fields and grass, along with upgrades to parking and restrooms. “Our venues have proved themselves,” he adds. “We stay current on everything and deliver the best in quality, product, aesthetics, accessibility and more.” Among the unique venues Lewisville offers is the state-of-the-art Westside Aquatic Center, which opened in late 2014. Owned and operated by the Lewisville Independent School District, the 75,000- square-foot natatorium holds 1,200 spectators and boasts a 75-meter competition pool that can accommodate up to 36 lanes, plus two 1-meter and two 3-meter diving boards. “Ever since we opened the Aquatic Center, swimming, diving and synchro have been growing for us,” Hernandez notes. In fact, Lewisville was chosen to host the FINA Women’s Intercontinental Water Polo Tournament at the Aquatic Center in February, which brought Olympic and world champions from around the world to Lewisville. The event, which was won by the U.S. team, served as a prelude to qualification for the Rio Olympics. The area also hosts major basketball and volleyball events, particularly at The MAC (Multiple Athletic Complex) in Lewisville, as well as Swisher Courts in nearby Lake Dallas, and the Advantage Sports Complex, a sports training and competition facility in Carrollton. The MAC offers a total of 38,000 square feet and features four NBA-size hardwood basketball courts and seven regulation-size volleyball courts; Swisher Courts provides four basketball courts and six volleyball courts. Advantage Sports Complex, meanwhile, includes more than 100,000 square feet of space housing a total of six full-size regulation hardwood basketball courts, 12 hardwood volleyball courts and six hardwood courts for futsal. Partnerships with neighboring communities, such as Flower Mound, Plano, Carrollton and The Colony, is one key to ensuring that sports tourism visitors continue to enjoy and benefit from their experiences in Lewisville. “We very much favor partnering with neighboring cities and combining our resources to bring big tournaments into the region,” Hernandez says, “because what’s good for the region is good for us.” He cites the relationship Lewisville has with its western neighbor, Flower Mound, as a great example. Flower Mound has multiple baseball fields, but no hotels. So when the AAYBA hosts its World Series during two weeks every June and July, using the Bakersfield Complex in Flower Mound, Lewisville Lake Park and Toyota of Lewisville Railroad Park to accommodate at least 300 teams, the players and their families settle in for productive, active and enjoyable seven-day stays in Lewisville. Easy Accessibility Helping to create that great experience for athletes and visitors is Lewisville’s location, at the intersection of two major interstates and only 12 minutes from Dallas-Fort Worth airport. “It’s a fantastic location,” Hernandez says. “We’re extremely accessible and well-connected. Plus, our weather is great year-round and lends itself to outdoor tournaments and events from January through December.” Accommodations often are the key to a successful event, and Lewisville is home to at least 22 hotels and over 2,000 rooms. Breakfast often is included in the room rate, and tournament hotels feature interior hallways, rather than outdoor corridors, making them safer and more secure. When not on the fields or in the pool, there’s plenty to do for athletes and their families. Lewisville is surrounded by 9,000 protected acres, with 233 miles of lake shoreline. Lewisville Lake spans 29,000 acres, with an average depth of 25 feet, and is ideal for boating, water sports and fishing. In fact, the lake is officially known as the “Urban Bass Fishing Capital of Texas,” with largemouth bass, white bass and hybrid white/striped bass in plentiful supply. Other leisure activities for teams and families include shopping, movies, bowling, video arcade games, and water parks. Lewisville also has its historic and charming Old Town, a retail and arts hub featuring stores, restaurants and various special events. Old Town hosts several outdoor festivals, such as Western Days in September, a spring arts festival and free concerts in the park on Tuesday nights in June and July. The CVB receives high praise for helping sports events succeed — and return — year after year. “Carlos and his team go above and beyond,” says the PTX’s Long. “Anything you need, he is there, ready to help.” “I just can’t say enough good things about working with the Lewisville staff,” adds Black of AAYBA Texas. “We like to see ourselves as a good marketing partner,” Hernandez notes. “It’s all about helping event owners create the best experience possible.”
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