With an irresistibly sunny climate, America’s second-largest population, and no fewer than 11 professional sports teams, Los Angeles is a west coast sports hub. But the bright lights of La La Land aren’t reserved for the pros. Indeed, college, high school, and youth sports of all ages thrive in Southern California, making LA a desirable sports tournament destination. Whether you’re thinking of signing your team up for the next Los Angeles tournament or an LA-based coach running the whole show, this post will get you up to speed on the ins and outs of organizing the competition.
Los Angeles Sports Venues
Yet, in 2020, LA will open its greatest venue yet: SoFi Stadium, a $4.9 billion stadium and entertainment complex set to host the 2022 Super Bowl and 2023 College Football National Championship. SoFi will also host the NFL’s Rams and Chargers, allowing the former to move out of the landmark Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which in 2028 will become the first stadium to host a third Summer Olympics. So… the history is rich when it comes to LA’s sports venues — and any visiting sports team should definitely work them into their Los Angeles trip.
When it comes to playing the games though, there’s a different group of venues youth teams and beer leagues should keep their eyes on.
Los Angeles Baseball Diamonds
A good place to start is the city’s college campuses, which are stunning and worth a visit in their own right. At University of Southern California, the USC Trojans play ball on their campus at Dedeaux Field, a 2,500-seat natural grass field with a $600,000 lighting system. You may recognize Dedeaux from the movies A League of Their Own and For Love of the Game. Across town, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) plays its home games at the intimate Jackie Robinson Stadium. The field is named, of course, after Robinson, who played his college ball at UCLA before going on break baseball’s colour barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Los Angeles Indoor Venues
Again, look to LA’s campuses and you’ll have no trouble finding good sports venues. At UCLA, the John Wooden Center is not the Bruins’ home court, but it is named after their former coach, whom many would call the greatest college basketball coach of all time. The facilities don’t disappoint: Three hardcourts, plus a strength and conditioning zone with workout equipment. Away from campus, the Hollywood Wilshire YMCA is experienced when it comes to hosting youth basketball programs and even adult leagues.
Los Angeles Outdoor Venues
With such incredible weather all year ‘round, it’s not surprising that LA’s outdoor fields are plentiful — and gorgeous. Glendale Sports Complex is tucked in between the hills north of LA, between Burbank and Pasadena. Its 27 acres are outfitted with three baseball/softball diamonds and two soccer pitches. Plus, the views are stunning for spectators. One of the best non-pro venues for soccer and football in LA is John Elway Stadium, a 4,000 seater which belongs to Granada Hills Charter High School.
Los Angeles Hockey Arenas
The NHL’s Kings practice at the Toyota Sports Performance Center in nearby Segundo, minutes from LAX airport. The facility is a hub for youth hockey, hosting the Jr. Kings, pick-up hockey, skate schools, and more. Perfect for hosting a tournament: The rink has a full service pro shop and a family-run restaurant and bar. The Pasadena Ice Skating Center stakes its own claim with hockey skills clinics, camps, and youth programs.
Your sports tournament will be bringing in teams from all over (and even outside) California. Getting all the teams to LA will require some logistical planning. Arranging transportation is the first step toward making the tournament happen.
As the home team’s coach or manager, or the tournament organizer, you’re going to have to get familiar with the bus rentals and shuttle services available to you and your incoming teams. Step one for out-of-towners is finalizing their travel list — how many players and coaches are coming on the trip, and does your group include team managers, trainers, parents, or siblings? Next, take an inventory of your team’s locker room. Which equipment must you bring and how much storage space will it require? Now that those two pieces are in place, ask yourself this: How many and which types of buses are best suited for your team?
When choosing your bus type, budget will obviously be a determining factor. But try to envision your group on the road — do you picture comfortable seats, air conditioning, an on-board bathroom? If your travel distance is longer than just a few hours, the answer is probably yes. The bus that best brings you all those amenities is the coach bus. The mini coach brings that same comfort, and might be perfect for a smaller team that wouldn’t fill up an entire regular bus. On the other hand, for shorter trips especially, you could aim to cut some costs with a more basic option like the school bus, which can hold up to 47 people. Finally, the minibus is just like the school bus, but for much smaller groups.
If you don’t have the team size to justify renting an entire coach bus, there are other options available to you. Bus.com offers convenient sprinter van rentals in Los Angeles that are popular among sports teams. For the unacquainted: a sprinter van is a type of passenger van that comfortably fits an average of 10 to 15 travellers.
With that decision in the rearview mirror, it’s time to consider your payment strategy. Just like your team’s best player, Bus.com’s Book Now / Pay Later option is a game-changer. With the ability to book transportation well in advance and wait until 21 days prior to departure date to finalize payment, team managers save a good deal of stress.
Finally, depending on your sport, make sure to check out one of these resources before booking transportation:
- Hockey Coach’s Checklist to Planning The Ultimate Away Games
- Basketball Coach’s Checklist to Planning the Ultimate Away Game
- Football Coach’s Checklist to Planning The Ultimate Away Games
Los Angeles Accommodations
Along with a bus, each team is going to need a place to stay. Friendly host teams can help visitors by pointing out their city’s safest and most appropriate neighbourhoods in which to find a hotel. Bonus: Fill them in on which hotels are best suited for sports teams.
We’ve found that the Holiday Inn Express, Best Western, and La Quinta chains are great fits for sports teams. From their ability to accommodate equipment, to the team discounts they offer (if you ask!), we recommend any of these three brands for your incoming teams.
Pro tip: Book a courtesy hotel room block. A block of rooms is necessary for any sports team travelling together that wants to know their whole group has rooms next to one another.