Greater Waco Sports Commission (GWSC) is full of energy looking to bring more events to its outstanding city. “Our goal is to be able to continue to see growth in our city and infrastructure here,” Mike Vogelaar, Executive Director at GWSC, says. The geography of the city itself is perfect for outdoor events like cycling and triathlons along the river, downtown, and scenic rural roads. The GWSC team is always looking to bring in new events and hopes to keep building facilities to support various sports.
GWSC identifies and attracts new sports events while enhancing and retaining existing events to generate positive economic impact and enhance quality of life.
Baylor University – On the banks of the Brazos River, Baylor University is home to over 20,000 students and 19 collegiate sports. McLane Stadium, the school’s football stadium, can hold up to 45,140 fans. The stadium sits right on the bank of the Brazos River and even offers “sailgating” boat slips to tailgate on the water on game days. Home to Baylor basketball and volleyball, Ferrell Center can seat 10,000+. Baylor Ballpark is one of the country’s top baseball stadiums and features the Jack Ward Pitching Lab, a training room, indoor hitting cages, and more.
Waco Surf Resort (BSR Cable Park) – “This is a globally recognized artificial wave park. Big names like Tony Hawk and Shaun White have come to train here. It’s crazy to think this is in Waco,” Vogelaar says. BSR Cable Park features a wave lagoon for surfing and a cable park for wakeboarding. The wave lagoon features expert, intermediate, and beginner waves to welcome all levels of expertise. For those looking to stay awhile and soak up the experience, Waco Surf Resort and Waco Surf Cabins are located onsite.
BASE at Extraco Event Center – Since 1953, the Extraco Events Center has been the center of entertainment in Central Texas. The center is home to the Heart of Texas Fair & Radio and hosts 225+ events annually, bringing in more than 400,000 visitors. A new multipurpose building at the venue is called BASE, an acronym for “business, art, sports, and entertainment” to encompass all that will be hosted here. BASE at Extraco Events Center boasts 80,000 square feet and is ready for a variety of events, including sports tournaments, trade shows, conferences, banquets, car shows, and more.
Things to Do
Magnolia Market / Silo District – Waco is a blossoming hub for home design and retail thanks in part to the Magnolia Market and Silo District. It all started here for Chip and Joanna Gaines, the beloved HGTV stars who have turned their hometown of Waco, Texas into an immersive retail and entertainment experience at the Silo District. Each of the Gaines’ businesses in the heart of Waco are results of their creative visions. At the Silos, explore their six shops curated by Joanna, as well as an entertainment lawn often featuring live music and food trucks. The homey aesthetic and attention to detail at every corner here is sure to charm every visitor.
Dr Pepper Museum – Fun fact: Dr Pepper is the oldest soft drink in America, originally created in 1885 by Dr. Charles Alderton at the Old Corner Drug Store in Waco, Texas. In 1906, the Artesian Manufacturing and Bottling Company was built to be the first manufacturing site of Dr Pepper. In 1989, the building became the Dr Pepper Museum, and today holds one of the best collections of soft drink memorabilia worldwide. Be sure to stop by the museum for a look into the history and success of this iconic drink.
Cameron Park Zoo – In the beautiful Cameron Park along the Brazos River, the Cameron Park Zoo offers an escape into nature. Across its 52-acres and 14 exhibits, visitors can discover creatures including giant tortoises at the Galapagos Tortoise Habitat and African lions at the African Lion Habitat. The Cameron Park Zoo features splashing waterfalls, a lake and ponds, and includes 1,731 animals. This impressive attraction is open year-round.
Baylor Campus – Founded in 1845, Baylor University is the oldest educational institution in Texas. The 1,000-acre campus is a beautiful place to walk around and explore. Some campus highlights include Pat Neff Hall, Burleson Quadrangle, Old Main, and McLane Stadium.
Waco Tours – For a guided tour around town from local experts, try out Waco Tours. The Classic Waco Tour, awarded #4 Top Overall Experience in the United States by TripAdvisor, is a 2.5-hour experience stopping at the city’s highlights. Their River Cruise Tour was ranked #1 Best Boat Tour in North America by USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice and takes guests along the Brazos River. Waco Tours was founded by Waco residents Luke and Rachel Whyte and David and Rachel Ridley. Passionate about their city, the group decided they needed to create a way for visitors to discover all that Waco has to offer.
Fun fact: the founders’ homes were renovated in HGTV’s “Fixer Upper”!
Homestead Heritage Village – Homestead Heritage Village is an agrarian- and craft-based intentional Christian community. This community is made up of a 550-acre farm as well as a Craft Village featuring a pottery house, a blacksmith shop, a cheese-making house, a woodworking and fine furniture-making shop, and a fiber-crafts cottage. The community’s craftsmanship has been internationally recognized and even has contributed furniture pieces to the White House Collection by Presidential request. The Craft Village is open to the public year-round and often offers crafting classes.
Topgolf – Topgolf Waco is a hotspot for sports lovers, families, and friends. The space includes climate-controlled hitting bays with HDTVs, a sports bar and restaurants, and an indoor/outdoor yard with fire-pits and seating. Check it out with a group after your tournament/games!
For general tourism information, visit https://wacoheartoftexas.com
GFNY Waco – In 2021, the GFNY Endurance Sports Series announced it will be expanding their events to include GFNY Waco. GFNY is a global sports events company that runs 20+ cycling events annually on 5 continents. GFNY Waco will be the 4th GFNY cycling event in the US. The event will take place on June 26, 2022 and will be made up of an 86-mile course along Waco’s open roads through town, along the Brazos River, and out amidst vast farmlands. The race will start and finish at the Waco Convention Center where race activities will also be held.
Beast of the Brazos – The 3rd annual Beast of the Brazos will be held in Waco on September 25, 2022! This open water swim race will feature a similar route to IRONMAN Waco and IRONMAN 70.3 Waco with 1.2 and 2.4 mile route options. Hosted by the Greater Waco Sports Commission, the swim race is one of the best in Texas and will build up lots of excitement for the IRONMAN Festival just 3 weeks later.
IRONMAN 70.3 – This year, Waco will be hosting its second IRONMAN Festival, meaning the city will host both the 70.3 race AND the 140.6 race the same weekend. The event will be held from October 15-16, 2022 and will feature both the half and full IRONMAN races. Participants get to swim in the Brazos River and complete the run and bike portion in the countryside. 2021 was the first-ever IRONMAN Festival in North America, and the city of Waco is set to host this huge event through 2028.
TAPPS Championships – The Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) will be hosting arts and athletic championships in Waco through 2023. This year, the 4A Tennis Championships will be held at the Waco Regional Tennis Center from April 4-5, 2022. The TAPPS Girls and Boys Basketball Championships will be held from March 3-5, 2022. Check out the TAPPS site here for more dates and information.
Mother’s Day Fun Run and 5K – Greater Waco Sports Commission is hosting a Mother’s Day Fun Run and 5K at the BSR Cable Park! The runs will start and end at the Cable Park and participants will receive a T-shirt, finisher medal, Beach pass, and mimosa on the beach (for those 21+)! Start your Mother’s Day off right with this beach bonding day!
Clash at the Corral: Strongman Competition – On September 11, 2022, the Waco Convention Center will again host the Clash at the Corral: Strongman Competition. This all-day powerlifting and weightlifting competition is a part of the Clash Strongman Pro Series, a series of nationwide events providing an elite level of competition in weightlifting.
The city of Waco is strategically located between major metropolitan cities including Dallas, Houston, and Austin. Waco Regional Airport is only 20 minutes from downtown, and Dallas Fort Worth International Airport and Austin–Bergstrom International Airport are both less than 2 hours away from Waco. Car rentals and Ubers are both easy options in the area. There are 5,000 hotel rooms in the area, including most of the major hotel brands and new boutique hotels.
To discover more about all Waco has to offer, or to book your next event there today, head to their Playeasy profile here!
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