Why Host a Sporting Event in Wilmington, NC
A Winning Sports Destination for Participants and Spectators Alike
Wilmington, NC has become a sought-after destination for sports events planners thanks to good weather year-round and its location situated along the Cape Fear River, Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean. Wilmington, NC has everything you need to pull off an extraordinary sporting event - all in one place. Its combination of unique landscapes, open spaces, breathtaking scenery and accessible location makes it a premier sports destination in the Carolinas and allows groups the opportunity to turn sporting events into vacation experiences, increasing participant and spectator attendance.
With a charming historic riverfront town and three scenic island beaches, our coastal destination offers everything you need to host a memorable sporting event. Press play to discover fresh possibilities on the best of the Carolina coast.
Everything You Value for Extraordinary Events
A Distinctive Destination
- Voted one of the South’s Best Cities by Southern Living magazine readers
- Voted as America’s Best Riverfront and one of America's Best Riverwalks by USA TODAY
- Downtown walkable access to entertainment, shops, cafes and riverfront park and amphitheater, many of which offer outdoor dining and views of Wilmington’s spectacular sunsets over the river
- Competitors and spectators can take advantage of Wilmington’s close proximity to three island beaches: Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach
- Wilmington has a favorable climate boasting 212 days of sunshine annually, making it an ideal location for sporting events
Exceptional Facilities & Locations
- Wilmington Convention Center is the largest convention center on the NC coast and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified. Offers 30,000-square-foot exhibit hall, 12,000-square-foot ballroom, 5,784-square-feet of meeting space, 15,000-square-feet of pre-function space, ticket office, concessions and an attached parking deck.
- Althea Gibson Tennis Complex with 24 lighted tennis courts and a 1,500-square-foot clubhouse making this the largest tennis facility in Southeastern North Carolina
- nCino Sports Park with seven soccer fields
- Long Leaf Park with three soccer fields, three softball fields, four baseball fields, four tennis courts, an equestrian center, restrooms, and six shelters
- Legion Sports Complex includes Jurgenson-Gabriel Field, Legion Back Field, Buck Hardee (Baseball) Field, Robert Shipp Pool, and four lighted tennis courts; seats 6,000 with full equipped concessions available
- Olsen Park with five lighted softball/baseball fields, volleyball court, restrooms, concession stands, picnic shelters, and the handicap accessible Miracle Field and Miracle Playground
- Ogden Park with three lighted baseball fields, one lighted youth football stadium, one lighted softball field, three lighted soccer/football fields, nine lighted tennis courts, 10,000-square-foot concrete skatepark, and shelters
- University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) Trask Coliseum is the home court for UNCW basketball teams and also can host volleyball. The facility seats 5,200 fans.
- Veterans Park with four Little League fields, two baseball fields, two softball fields, two soccer fields, three sand volleyball courts, four football fields and nine tennis courts, which can also easily be converted to pickleball courts
- Wilmington Ice House with 30,000-square-foot NHL regulation size rink
- There are several locations in the Wilmington area for hosting watersports, including the Intracoastal Waterway, as well as numerous areas with beach access to the Atlantic Ocean
- Over 8,000 guest rooms and suites
Home to Award-Winning Sports Events
- Carolina Cup, which takes place in Wrightsville Beach, is one of the world’s five major standup paddleboard races; ranked as the #2 race in the world in the category of professional men and #3 in the category of professional women, according to Australia’s SUPracer.com
- IRONMAN 70.3 North Carolina previously won in two worldwide categories in the Athletes' Choice Awards. The triathlon spans Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington and ranked second for best overall run and tied for fifth in best overall swim in the world.
- The annual Novant Health Wilmington NC Marathon is a Boston Marathon qualifying event and an USATF certified qualifier
- The U.S. Open Fat Bike Beach Championship brings fat bike cyclists from all over the country each year to compete on the sandy shores of Wrightsville Beach
- Other sporting events hosted in the area include the NC State Closed NTRP Hard Court Tennis Championships, Cape Fear 7's Rugby Tournament, and O'Neill/Sweetwater Pro/Am Surf Fest just to name a few
Notable Sports Accolades
- Wilmington is one of the top destinations in the country for a “Weekend Runcation” according to Runner’s World, which makes it ideal for running events
- TrailRunner.com featured Carolina Beach as a featured Trail Town
- Triathlete Magazine includes Wilmington among its “Best Places to Live for Triathletes,” citing mild winters, triathlon clubs, ocean, Intracoastal Waterway, historic riverfront and the Gary Shell Cross-City Trail
- Zozi.com includes Wrightsville Beach in its list of “Where the Swell is Up: 13 Epic Surf Spots in the U.S.”
- Men’s Health includes Wrightsville Beach among its roundup of Summer Hot Spots that highlight “the five best places to ride a wave, spike a volleyball, or paddle into the blue.”
- Wrightsville Beach made Outside Magazine’s list of top “Stateside SUP Hubs” as the best place for SUP “variety.”
- The League of American Bicyclists designated Wilmington as a Bicycle Friendly Community. This award is presented to communities that have shown a significant commitment to bicycling.
- National Geographic previously named Wrightsville Beach one of the World's 20 Best Surf Towns, saying “It’s a great surf town for two main reasons—attitude and access.”
- Men’s Journal previously named Wrightsville Beach North Carolina’s most naturally gifted water sport hub
Plenty to See and Do
- Wilmington’s River District features more than 200 restaurants, shops and attractions, a waterfront park and amphitheater, most of which are within walking distance
- Visitors can choose from an assortment of water- and land-based activities, as well as a variety of tours including history, craft beer and theme walking tours, horse-drawn carriage tours, kayak/canoe excursions, biking and nature trails, narrated cruises, self-guided film tours and culinary adventures
- The area hosts a busy lineup of festivals and special events throughout the year that may already be taking place during planned sporting events
- Attractions for visitors who want to ‘get physical’ with activities like laser tag, climbing walls and more
- Multiple championship golf courses located nearby
- Check out our roundup of top things to see and do before and after the event and make it a vacation
Maximum Registration Potential
- Wilmington offers all the perks that come with a coastal destination, along with the conveniences and amenities of a big city
- Many groups max out their registration at sporting events held here
- Attendees can arrive early or stay late to enjoy our three beach towns or the historic charm of Wilmington
Wilmington has experience in hosting signature sporting events of all kinds. We invite you to check it out and see for yourself.