Top 10 Sports Events in 2016

Signs are all around that the 2016 sports season is here – from National Signing Day for college football last month, to the Detroit Tigers starting Spring Training recently in Lakeland, Fla., to March Madness around the corner. And 2016 also promises to deliver an exciting year of sporting events here in West Michigan. So get out your calendar, check out our Top 10 list below of not-to-miss events, and make plans this year to see an action-filled sporting event or two near you.

ACHA D3 Men’s Ice Hockey National Championship – March 8-12

This exciting collegiate hockey tournament at the DIII level features several local teams competing (Calvin, Aquinas, CMU).  Get more information here.

2016 WCHA Championships – March 18-19

College hockey's premier conference tournament – the WCHA Final Five – returns to Grand Rapids and the Van Andel Arena. The four winning teams from the WCHA's best-of-three, quarterfinal round playoff series advance to West Michigan to compete for the prestigious Broadmoor Trophy and an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament.  Tickets are available for purchase here.

US Quad Rugby Heartland Sectionals – March 18-20

The United States Quad Rugby Association provides opportunity, support and structure for competitive wheelchair rugby to people with disabilities, and you’ll get a chance to watch the fastest-growing wheelchair sport in the world at this tournament, coming to Grand Rapids for the first time.

NASC 24th Annual Symposium – April 3-7

While this isn’t a public sporting event, it’s worth a spot on our list because the National Association of Sports Commissions Annual Symposium will draw 1,000 industry professionals to Grand Rapids (including approximately 200 event owners and national governing bodies of Olympic and Paralympic sports) who will see our region and venues up close. In addition to the Symposium being the most important conference for destinations, vendors and event owners annually, it also includes the longest-running reverse tradeshow in the sport tourism industry.

Meijer LPGA Classic – June 14-19

The Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give returns to our region for its third consecutive year, with each year outperforming the previous in terms of excitement and fan participation.In the event’s short history, the Meijer LPGA Classic has not only featured 144 of the top female golfers in the world, but it has raised more than $1.3 million for the Simply Give program to feed the needy throughout the Midwest.  Tickets are available for purchase at MeijerLPGAClassic.com.

Meijer State Games – Summer Games – June 23-26

We just wrapped up our third annual Meijer State Games of Michigan - Winter Games Feb. 19-21, which brought 2,000+ Michigan athletes of all ages to participate in 20 events ranging from traditional winter sports like cross-country skiing and luging, to emerging sports like fat tire biking and indoor virtual rowing. If you missed out, plan for the Meijer State Games – Summer Games returning this June for its seventh year and drawing an estimated 8,000+ Michigan athletes representing 40+ sports.

USA Track and Field 2016 Masters Outdoor Championships – July 14-17

USA Track & Field (USATF) is the National Governing Body for track & field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States. USATF encompasses the world's oldest organized sports, the most-watched events of Olympic broadcasts, the No. 1 high school and junior high school participatory sport and more than 30 million adult runners in the United States.

Game Day USA National Championships  – July 14-17 and July 21-24

This 100-team tournament returns to the Art Van Sports Complex for a second year – and we anticipate it will again fill the complex to capacity (and then some) plus generate strong economic impact for the Rockford region. Game Day USA operates events in multiple states and hosts thousands of teams, athletes and spectators representing 25 states and Canada.The organization selects destinations that offer a variety of amenities (hotels, restaurants, attractions) that appeal to athletes, their families and fans . . . and West Michigan ranks right at the top of that list.

American Youth Basketball Tour National Championships – July 21-24

Truly about player and personal development, AYBT immerses players in an environment that encourages continued skill development. 

 Michigan Titanium – August 21

When it comes to top triathlons, there are no other events of this caliber in the state. The partners who put on this race know this event will not only bring top athletes from across the country, but also encourage a less-experienced triathlete to participate in these next level events.  One not to miss for any level triathlete ready to put their training to the test.

2017 - State Games of America, Aug. 3-6, 2017

If we could add an 11th, it would be the State Games of America coming to Grand Rapids in 2017.   

The State Games of America is an Olympic-style event featuring competition between State Games medal winners (gold, silver, bronze) from across the nation. Whether participants compete for the fun of it or as the first step to their ultimate dream, there's something for everybody in the State Games . . . not to mention that this biennial event will bring nearly 20,000 visitors to our region and almost $10 million in visitor spending!

Mike

Mike Guswiler
Mike is president of the West Michigan Sports Commission.

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