With a minor league baseball stadium, top-notch sports complexes that draw national baseball and softball tournaments and a world-class speedway that hosts a pair of NASCAR races each year, Delaware is already a major player in the sports department.
Within the next few years, however, the First State will boast a grand slam of sports facilities once the Kent County Sports Complex – planned to include 15 outdoor fields capable of hosting soccer, lacrosse, field hockey and other sports as well as an indoor field – is built on 100 acres of donated land at the intersection of Del. 1 and Milford Neck Road.
The addition of a major sports complex in the heart of the state will take Delaware to an all-star level. The state already welcomes hundreds of thousands of sports fans to its state-of-the-art venues every year.
With more than 14,000 hotel rooms statewide and easy accessibility by bus, train routes and major highways – as well as nearby international airports - Delaware is no stranger to hosting big, small, amateur, and professional sporting events.
The Wilmington Blue Rocks, the Kansas City Royal’s Class A baseball affiliate, play at Frawley Stadium, which also hosts high school baseball championship events, and Dover International Speedway, in Dover, hosts two NASCAR races each year, attracting close to 100,000 spectators.
Delaware’s central location allows for endless opportunities when planning a sporting event. Between facilities at local high schools, state parks, paintball courses, bowling lanes, or BMX tracks – as well as access to various waterways - no sport is off limits. Some of the nation’s best young hockey players hit the ice here: The Fred Rust Ice Arena and Gold Ice Arena will be the site of the American Hockey College Association Men’s and Women’s Championships in 2014. And the Centre at Delaware State Fair Ice Rink, in Harrington, houses a 49,000-square-foot rink with an NHL indoor ice surface.
The Lower Sussex Little League in Roxana hosts the annual Senior League Softball World Series, and Sports at the Beach, a 95-acre baseball facility located near Rehoboth Beach, offers youth baseball tournaments. There’s also more than 40 golf courses, including Bayside Resort Golf Club in Selbyville - a Jack Nicklaus signature course - and Wilmington’s Rowing Center along the Christina River.
And, of course, there’s college football and basketball thanks to Delaware’s two universities. The University of Delaware’s 5,000-seat Bob Carpenter Center hosts NCAA Division I-AA basketball games; and the Blue Hens football squad calls the adjacent 22,000-seat Delaware Stadium home. The Delaware State University Hornets take part in their gridiron battles at Alumni Stadium, a 7,193-seat multipurpose facility in Dover, and they hoop it up at nearby Memorial Hall, which seats more than 3,000.
Indeed, when it comes to sports facilities, Delaware is like a multi-sport legend – the First State is Jim Thorpe, Babe Ruth and Bo Jackson, all rolled into one.