By Charlie Mitchell
The North Myrtle Beach Park and Sports Complex opened in spring 2015 and in just a few months hosted 30 events bringing more than 34,000 participants and spectators and creating an economic impact exceeding $11,500,000, a jump from the projected $10 million annual impact.
The complex opened with an international competition of the Harry Potter inspired game of Quidditch, hosting the IQA World Cup. Recently, the Dixie Softball World Series brought hundreds of visitors to this girls’ softball championship. Other sports hosted include baseball, soccer, football, ultimate Frisbee and rugby.
The park has been embraced by the citizens of North Myrtle Beach and has hosted local events from the Interdenominational Prayer and Praise event to the Taste of the Coast, concerts, races and local youth athletic leagues. The Park and Sports Complex is a great blueprint for the growing niche of sports tourism. The complex boasts fields that can accommodate both high school and college events. It includes eight batting tunnels for training, eight regulation sized soccer/lacrosse fields, two regulation high school/collegiate baseball fields and four regulation youth/collegiate softball fields. In addition the two high school/collegiate fields can be transformed and used as two additional regulation youth/collegiate softball fields. There are also rooms for game officials and misting fans for team comfort in dugouts.
The complex has many features that make it a desirable place to visit. Activities include jogging and walking trails totaling almost two miles. There is also a 25-acre lake, and there will be an added attraction to that later. A 3-acre dog park is divided for large and for smaller four-legged friends. An amphitheater welcomes concerts or dancing competitions. Three playgrounds and seven picnic shelters are scattered, with two adjacent to the ball fields, three near the 25-acre Meadow and amphitheater, and two convenient to the soccer fields.
The new Go Ape Treetop Adventure Course delivers a unique view of the park from tree to tree using zip lines and Tarzan swings. All of this “going ape” will take place after each participant is given a 30-minute safety training session.
According to Matt Gibbons, superintendent of Recreation/Sports Tourism for the City of North Myrtle Beach, the Go App Treetop Course will be in the wooded area near the 25-acre lake and, “There are plans for at least one zip line across the lake.” Natural unpaved trails are free for public use and offer a view of those “going ape.”
The Park and Sports Complex is at 150 Citizens Circle which is off Robert Edge Parkway. The park is open from 6:30 am until 9:00 pm daily. All of the facilities can be rented. The rental forms can be obtained on www.nmbpark.com. The space accommodates large events and parking for 2000 vehicles.