In 2004, Sports Illustrated named Myrtle Beach the Sports Capital of South Carolina, and not just because the magazine was founded at our famed Pine Lakes International Country Club 50 years earlier. The foremost authority in American sports knew what millions of visitors have discovered: Myrtle Beach is a great vacation destination as well as a hot spot for sports.
With more than 80 golf courses located within a 60-mile radius of the Grand Strand, and with a 60-mile stretch of white-sand beaches and beautiful Atlantic Ocean in our back yard, the Myrtle Beach area is well known for its golf and watersports opportunities. But fewer know about the abundance of ball fields, sports courts, bike trails and ballparks.
A massive expansion project, spearheaded by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce's Sports Tourism department, has built facilities and marketed to sports organizations to attract more and more sporting events to the Grand Strand, and countless families who visited for the first time for a ball game are returning to spend their vacations in Myrtle Beach. Here are five of the Grand Strand's most popular sports facilities and some of the competitions they host:
- Market Common: This urban-style village features the recently expanded Grand Park, which hosts baseball, softball, soccer and even roller hockey tournaments. Grand Park has nine lighted FieldTurf diamonds and two natural turf fields, with state-of-the-art concessions, bathrooms and bleachers. Surrounding the park are paved bike trails that lead all the way to nearby Myrtle Beach State Park on the oceanfront. Lots of shopping and dining options make this a popular place for families.
- Myrtle Beach Convention/Sports Center: Located just a few blocks from the Caribbean are these two adjoining facilities that host a wide range of indoor sports. The larger MBCC is home to the Beach Ball Classic and CresCom Bank Holiday Invitational high school basketball tournaments, as well as the upstart Myrtle Beach Freedom indoor football team. The new MBSC has more than 100,000 square feet of space for basketball, volleyball, cheerleading and gymnastics competitions.
- North Myrtle Beach Sports and Rec Park: This new venue doubles as a sports complex and a recreation park. Eight multipurpose grass fields and six FieldTurf diamonds play host to a wide range of sports tournaments, while the spacious park has bike trails, a 25-acre lake and a zipline and ropes course for the adventurous types.
- “Pepper” Geddings Recreation Center: Located just a few blocks from the Caribbean, this spacious complex features an indoor gym and swimming pool, the 5,000-seat Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium, the Myrtle Beach Tennis Center, ball fields and a skateboard park. An official track and field facility surrounds Shaw Stadium, and the adjoining Ashley Booth Field is home to football and soccer.
- Pelicans Ballpark: Located adjacent to Broadway at the Beach, this 5,500-seat ballpark was built in 1999 to host minor-league baseball and other concerts and events. The Advanced Class A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs captured the Carolina League championship in 2015 and the park consistently ranks in the Top 25 list of best minor-league atmospheres. The March 5 Myrtle Beach Marathon and Half-Marathon uses this park as the staging area for the start/finish line and post-race party, and the Coastal Carolina University baseball team also hosts tourneys here.
Those are just a few of the great places for locals and visitors to get into the sports action, and guests at the Caribbean also have lots of opportunities for fun and games. Play in the indoor and outdoor pools and waterpark, start up a game on the beach, or just kick back and take in all the action. Great times and good sports reside at the Caribbean.