Keep this list of memorable sports event handy for what to watch this year.
Fed Cup — USA vs. Latvia, Feb. 7-8, Everett, Wash.
This premier international women’s tennis competition comes to Washington for the first time. Snohomish County Sports Commission Executive Director Tammy Dunn is crossing her fingers Serena and/or Venus Williams will be on the court at Angel of the Winds Arena, which seats 8,300. The winner goes on to the Fed Cup finals in April in Hungary.
Florida Youth Soccer Association President’s Cup, February, Panama City Beach, Fla.
The new Panama City Beach Sports Complex was built for this. Long a hub for baseball and softball, the destination seeks soccer as a growth market. Not even a year old, the facility has landed this state playoff event.
NCAA Wrestling Championships, March 19-21, Minneapolis
Few cities are as hot in the sports world as Minneapolis, mostly due to US Bank Stadium, the current home of the Summer X Games and host of Super Bowl LII in 2018. This year, the NCAA is looking to attract a record crowd and greatly enhance its wrestling championships experience there. The site is a huge shift from traditional arenas—demonstrating the growth in popularity in college wrestling.
NCAA DI Women’s Basketball Regionals, March 25-30, Greenville, S.C.
In the years since the NCAA lifted its ban on South Carolina for championships, Greenville has taken advantage of the new status. It’s now fair to call the city a hub of women’s basketball. This is the third year it will host the SEC Women’s Tournament since 2017, and this year, the road to the women’s Final Four goes through the Lowcountry.
Texas Pinball Festival, March 27-29, Frisco, Texas
You don’t have to be a fan of “Tommy”—it really is an incomprehensible musical—to flip for the largest event of its kind in the industry. More than 400 machines will be set up at Frisco Conference Center. The public can pay to see some intense tournament action from a who’s who of pinball wizards.
Iowa State Pool Players State Tournament, April 1-5, Des Moines, Iowa
Iowa Events Center will be transformed into a massive billiards hall, with dark overhead lighting complemented by lights right above each table. This is an excellent example of using a traditional venue for an unusual event.
FIE Junior and Cadet World Championships, April 3-12, Salt Lake City
When Visit Salt Lake Director of Sports Market Sales Clay Partain, CSEE, says his destination hosts more summer events than winter games, this is what he means. More than 1,000 future Olympic hopefuls will compete at Salt Palace Convention Center over 10 days. Of Team USA's fencing medalists at the 2016 Games, eight of nine were previous medal winners at the Junior and Cadet Worlds.
Men’s Final Four, April 4-6, Atlanta
Perhaps more noteworthy than the actual mega men’s basketball event is that the Final Four is the final piece of an incredible trifecta for Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which has hosted a Super Bowl and College Football Playoff Championship already in its short existence. This year’s weekend extravaganza also includes Division II and Division III men’s championship games.
WrestleMania 36, April 5, Tampa
Raymond James Stadium has hosted a Super Bowl and College Football Playoff Championship, but WrestleMania may be its largest event yet. WWE estimates last year’s flagship spectacle generated $165.4 million in revenue for the New York/New Jersey area, the eighth consecutive year that WrestleMania generated more than $100 million in economic impact for its host region. A fan fest and several ancillary events have turned WrestleMania into a weeklong celebration of the sports entertainment brand.
Major League Fishing Heavy Hitters, May 16-20, Kissimmee, Florida
The five-day tournament represents the quick growth of Major League Fishing, which launched its Bass Pro Tour in 2019. About $750,000 will be handed out in winnings, and Kissimmee gains exposure through live streaming and a post-event broadcast on the Discovery Channel.
2020 UCI BMX World Championships, May 26-31, Houston
The North Houston Bike Park, a 20-acre facility that debuted in 2017, gains global exposure with this elite BMX event. The last stop before the Tokyo Games, the championships will attract 3,000 amateur participants and 300 professional athletes from more than 40 countries.
The Atlantic Cup, June 10-21, Charleston, S.C.-Portland, Maine
The most environmentally, sustainable sailing race in the U.S. sets sail in South Carolina, makes a pit stop in New York and docks in Portland, Maine, to crown a winner. The Atlantic Cup has been carbon neutral since 2012, and at more than 1,000 nautical miles of ocean racing, the Atlantic Cup is the longest offshore race in the Western Atlantic.
2020 USA Masters Games, June 19-28, Grand Rapids, Mich.
The third iteration of the event moves to the Mitten State, which will host more than 2,500 athletes across 24 sports. With the 2020 Games, the USA Masters Games is returning to its original desire to host the event on even years. The West Michigan Sports Commission predicts the estimated direct visitor spending to be $1.9 million, with more than 675 hotel room nights booked.
National Veterans Golden Age Games, June 22-27, Madison, Wis.
The national, multisport competition promotes healthy and active lifestyles for veterans 55 and up and features 18 medaled events, ranging from track to bowling and shuffleboard. About 800 competitors participated in eight age categories in Anchorage, Alaska, last year.
2020 NXL Richmond Open, June 25-28, Richmond, Va.
The nation’s premier paintball tournament series heads to Richmond for the first time this summer. About 2,000 athletes are expected to visit for the event at Meadow Event Park.
Toyota USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships, Aug. 7-9, Milwaukee, Wis.
Milwaukee will play a key role in the presidential race as host of the Democratic National Convention. But here is a race with bipartisan support—in the form of 13,000 visitors and a $6 million economic impact. Lake Michigan and the city’s three rivers will provide a beautiful backdrop for USA Triathlon this year and in 2021.
NAGAAA Gay Softball World Series, Aug. 24-29, Columbus, Ohio
NAGAAA credits Linda Logan and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission for taking its World Series to the next level. In that sense, the event—the world’s biggest single-sport, weeklong LGBT event—is coming home in August at Berliner Sports Park. In 2015, the series brought 5,000 athletes to the city and generated $7 million in direct visitor spending.
Ryder Cup 2020, Sept. 22-27, Whistling Straits, Wis.
The best European and American golfers will compete just outside of Sheboygan, Wisconsin—one hour north of Milwaukee. The Ryder Cup is considered the Super Bowl of golf because of its international appeal. The event is expected to bring up to 50,000 visitors per day to the area for an estimated economic impact of $135 million.
Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill, Oct. 15-18, Fair Hill, Md.
One of only two 5 Star (the top equestrian) events in the United States, and seventh worldwide, the Maryland 5 Star is the next great horsing event for the state that hosts the Preakness. More than 80,000 spectators are expected for the event that could generate up to $30 million for the state of Maryland.
Big 12 Soccer Championships, November, Round Rock, Texas
Round Rock Multipurpose Complex is one of the best examples of a new complex generating renewed interest in a destination. One of this year’s marquee events coming to the facility is the Big 12 Soccer Championships, which have not been played in the Lone Star State in seven years.