This past March, the Myrtle Beach Sports Center opened its doors for the first time and with it the realm of possibility for sports event planners. Adjacent to the Myrtle Beach Convention Center and just two blocks from the ocean, the 100,000-sf sports facility is configurable to numerous events—from martial arts to basketball to archery. More than this, it’s connecting the city’s thriving sports tourism and MICE sectors.
The center joins an extensive list of existing sports facilities that are luring active groups. The North Myrtle Beach Park & Sports Complex is one such venue, its 160-acre outdoor park includes lacrosse, baseball and soccer fields, as well as an amphitheater, walking trails a 20-acre lake, and zip line and treetop adventures. The marrying of sports tourism to meetings and incentives represents a much bigger picture, says the Myrtle Beach CVB’s Director of Group Sales, Danna Lilly.
“We’re realizing a shift in the typical requests for off-site activities such as golf and fishing to more interactive experiences for networking. Groups are taking a more physical approach [to networking] with tree top rope courses, kayaking, foot golf and beach fitness challenges.” Lilly believes millennials are largely driving this trend, which extends to any immersive group activity (Lilly mentions workshops at local improve theatres and science museums.)
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Myrtle Beach’s burgeoning sports scene is supported by a plethora of attractions. Groups could spend a day at the 350-acre adventure and entertainment mecca, Broadway at the Beach, and still not experience everything there is to do there. Local Jeep, walking and lantern tours offer their own takes of the area’s best “haunts,” and with 60 miles of coastline exploring the city by water or air—the most recent trend is by jetpack—is easily accomplished. Myrtle Beach’s oceanfront boardwalk offers numerous opportunities to relish in the city’s history, mysteries and folklore. Out on the water, the Barefoot Princess is the Grand Strand’s only dinner and sightseeing cruise on the Intracoastal Waterway. Still, Lilly holds steadfast that the best view of the Atlantic is found from a seat on Skywheel; the best foot-long hotdog at Peaches Corner, the oldest (almost a century) and most eclectic gift shop on the strip.
Foodies will also find adventure in dinearounds exploring North Carolina’s calabash-style seafood to traditional or reinterpreted Lowcountry favs like stone-ground grits, blue crab and shrimp abound. Many local restaurants offer cooking classes where chefs “dish” on tricks of the trade amid a spread of their best samples. A new 30,000-sf culinary institute is also in the works for 2016 at the Horry Georgetown Technical College. The $15 million project will offer an in-house restaurant for 100 that focuses on seasonal products from local farmers and fishermen along with cooking demonstrations, classes and team building opportunities.
Also New for 2016
A wave of new performing arts productions rolling into the area will offer their own charms; Elvis festivals to menopause musicals to a “Time Warp” at the Carolina Opry. The upscale beer bar, The Brass Tap, is expected to springboard on the area’s craft beer scene with 70 different tap beers. On the hotel front, the 30-acre oceanfront Springmaid Beach Resort—soon rebranded as DoubleTree by Hilton—is set for renovation next fall, while the Homewood Suites Oceanfront Resort and Conference Center, with 100 suites and a 300-seat conference center, is set to open in the spring.