10 New Sporting Venues to Know in 2021

These new sports venues open up the playing field to fresh options for planners. 

10 New Sporting Venues to Know in 2021

Developers across the country haven’t halted the march to accommodate sports teams, leagues and associations with the latest amenities and high-tech fields of dreams. From skateparks and esports arenas to soccer stadiums and community rec centers, planners find new venue choices keep coming, even over the course of a difficult year. Here are 10 new venues to put on the radar.

Protective Stadium
Birmingham, Ala. 

This high-tech, 47,100-seat open-air multiuse stadium is ready for its close-up as finishing touches, including turf installation, are readying the new home for The University of Alabama at Birmingham football team’s opener Oct. 2. The stadium is the crown jewel of the adjacent Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex, home to the 757-room Sheraton Birmingham Hotel, The Westin Birmingham, two exhibition halls offering 220,000 square feet for trade shows and exhibitions, and the Uptown entertainment district.  

TQL Stadium

Wheels began spinning toward the creation of a new soccer-specific stadium in the Queen City’s historic West End in 2018, after MLS awarded Cincinnati a new expansion franchise. The state-of-the-art facility opened in May and is built on 12.4 acres at a cost of $250 million. TQL houses 26,000 fans and includes four special premium club areas. It also sports a 360-degree canopy roof and a 150-foot video board, and rings the field with nearly 3 miles of custom LED lighting. 

Lauridsen Skatepark
Des Moines, Iowa

Skateboarders, roller skaters, scooter riders, bikers and merely curious onlookers celebrated the early May opening of this 88,000-sq.-ft. facility at downtown Des Moines Principal Riverwalk. The park is the largest of its kind in the U.S. and, only two weeks after opening, hosted the Dew Tour, a showcase featuring top skaters from around the globe. The eye-popping facility features a street course; flow bowls; skate art; a competition-level 16-stair and four-flat-four-stair; a snake run; and dozens of hips, banks and ledges located around the perimeter of the park. 

North Houston Sports Complex
Warner Robins, Ga. 

This 65-acre, $18 million multisport facility opened in April and is home to four baseball/softball fields, four basketball courts that can be converted into eight volleyball courts, 12 pickleball courts and an indoor track, along with fitness and meeting areas. A true ADA-accessible community hub, the complex is open to recreational, practice and tournament play. The site honors nearby Warner Robins Air Force Base with patriotic red, white and blue accenting throughout the facility. 

Rantoul Family Sports Complex
Rantoul, Ill. 

The 60-acre facility, which opened in April, boasts eight baseball/softball fields, two Little League/challenger fields and eight soccer/football/rugby/lacrosse multipurpose fields with synthetic turf allowing for all-weather play and heavy usage. The venue has a splash pad and playground for the wee ones. Located an equidistant two-and-a-half-hour drive from Chicago and Indianapolis, the complex has 800 parking spaces and is easily accessible from major interstates. 

10 New Sporting Venues to Know in 2021

Overtime Elite/U.S. Atlantic Station Arena

Overtime Elite, a quickly developing new basketball league targeting 16- to 18-year-old rising basketball stars looking to make the pros, is developing a 103,000-sq.-ft. arena in Atlanta’s Atlantic Station neighborhood. The yet-to-be-named arena’s city is targeted as a global center for basketball development and a cultural hub for people of all backgrounds. The campus is expected to open in September.  

The Podium
Spokane, Wash.

With construction well underway and a fall 2021 opening planned, The Podium  is slated to be the premier multisport venue in this corner of the Pacific Northwest. The 135,000-sq.-ft. facility sets up for 16 volleyball courts, nine basketball courts, 21 wrestling mats and a 200-meter, hydraulically banked, six-lane indoor track. Track events such as pole vault, shot put, high jump and weight throw are all accommodated here. The facility hosts up to 4,000 and is within walking distance of downtown Spokane’s hotels, restaurants, retail and entertainment options. 

10 New Sporting Venues to Know in 2021

Bendix Arena
South Bend, Ind.

Opened in February as the region’s only dedicated esports facility, Bendix Arena has more than 100,000 square feet of event space; the latest lighting, sound and fiber internet connectivity, not to mention a 36-set gaming center with Nintendo and Xbox gaming stations; and a 500-seat theater capable of hosting regional and national esports events. The on-site Bendix LAN Center (local area network space for multiplayer computer games) hosts camps, tournaments, LAN parties and open play.

10 New Sporting Venues to Know in 2021

Q2 Stadium
Austin, Texas

The soccer-specific venue, which opened in June, is the new home of MLS’s Austin FC. The $260 million facility offers natural grass in an open-air stadium hosting up to 20,500. Beyond soccer, the venue can hold concerts and outdoor events hosting 500 to 2,000, with inside configurations accommodating between 5,000 and 20,000 spectators. The stadium rests alongside Capital Metro's Red Line commuter rail tracks, with the closest existing station just a half-mile walk away. 

Norton Healthcare Sports & Learning Center
Louisville, Ky. 

This 24-acre multisport complex (pictured at top) opened in February and features 90,000 square feet of floor space with a 4,000-seat, 200-meter banked indoor track and a 400-meter outdoor track. Unique offerings include four lanes of mini bowling, an interactive rock climbing wall and extensive multipurpose community space for educational programming and meetings. Located in West Louisville, the complex is part of a major revitalization development effort for the region. Locally created artwork depicts pictures and quotes from famous Black leaders, from the likes of Louisville's Muhammad Ali to Harriet Tubman.

Photos courtesy of Louisville Tourism, Bendix Arena, Q2 Stadium and OTE.