The big San Francisco tournament is a go, and as the home team, it’s your duty to plan it. Your to-do list is longer than Mission Street. For starters: Find a venue (or two), set up transportation for the visiting teams, and commandeer hotels for those out-of-towners. Not to worry — our coach’s guide is step one in planning that away tournament in SF.
San Francisco Sports Venues
The San Francisco area has some of the most awe-inspiring sports venues in North America. Nearby Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium is the new home of the NFL’s 49ers, is technologically-advanced and environmentally-friendly, and has perfect sightlines. It opened in 2014 and shortly thereafter hosted Super Bowl 50.
Meanwhile, in the heart of San Fran, the MLB’s Giants play their baseball games out of the waterfront Oracle Park, a scenic ballpark that evokes memories of Barry Bonds launching home runs into the San Francisco Bay past the right field bleachers.
But these bucket list stadiums aren’t what the doctor ordered for your minor sports tournament. When many teams are travelling from far and wide to compete in your city, it’s best to keep all the games as close together as possible. Thankfully, SF has plenty of complexes and parks with multiple courts or fields. Here are the Bay Area arenas and fields that are best suited to your tournament.
San Francisco Basketball Courts
Want to channel some of Oracle Park for your basketball tournament? Potrero Hill Rec Center borrows that wonderful combination of sports and beauty. Its outdoor court provides a stunning view of the city and the ferries wading under the Bay Bridge. If you can lock down Sunset Rec Center for your tournament, you’ll be privy to both an indoor and outdoor court just steps from Golden Gate Park.
San Francisco Baseball Diamonds
It is said that baseball in California was born at San Francisco’s Portsmouth Square in what is now Chinatown, when “the father of baseball” Alexander Cartwright brought his game there in 1849. There’s no diamond there now, but its impact is seen elsewhere. The Moscone Fields complex in the Marina District is suited for a 10+ team competition with its four baseball fields. In Golden Gate Park, Big Rec Field offers two diamonds side by side.
San Francisco Football Fields
Many of the top football fields in the city belong to its high schools. There’s the stunning view from the field at George Washington High, the pristine turf at Balboa, and the historic field at Abraham Lincoln High, originally built in 1940 at steeped in school tradition.
San Francisco Soccer Fields
San Francisco is not short on soccer fields, but we can recommend a few complexes that are best for hosting a tournament. South of the city, Crocker Amazon has no less than five fields, plus a dog park and playground within the same park to keep parents and kids occupied between games. Golden Gate Park always presents a great locale for visitors, and its Polo Field layout is comprised of seven (!) pitches. Beach Chalet Fields is also within the park, at the western end, and has four fields flanked by a brewery and restaurant.
San Francisco Hockey Arenas
When it comes to sports in the Bay Area, hockey may not be the first one to come to mind. But that doesn’t mean you won’t find quality hockey rinks on either side of the Bay Bridge. Remember: California has three NHL hockey teams, including the San Jose Sharks whose home is just 50 miles south of SF. Their original home, Cow Palace in Daly City, has hosted professional hockey on and off since the 1970s and has a seating capacity of more than 11,000. The Yerba Buena Skatebowl has a regulation rink, plus a bowling alley for some fun between games!
Since sports tournaments bring teams together from different cities and regions, arranging transportation is an essential part of your task list. The host team should help to organize team buses, since its coaches and managers have the local know-how that incoming teams don’t.
The first step for away teams is to determine the amount of players, coaches, and parents travelling with the team, and come up with a solid number. Then, take equipment inventory in order to figure out how much storage space you’ll need on the road. With those two things factored in, you can begin to determine how many and which type of buses are best suited for your team.
The bus type selection may also come down to a few other factors, including desired amenities, comfort, and budget. You’ll have four types of buses to choose from. The most popular choice, the coach bus, attracts with sheer size and comfort, not to mention its convenient storage space and comfortable air conditioning. For large teams that want to cut down on costs (and frills), the school bus can hold up to 47 people — and a whole lot of nostalgia. The mini coach is perfect for small teams that want the luxuries of the coach, and the mini bus is well-suited for shorter trips.
With all these considerations ironed out, it’s time to book a bus.
When it comes to paying for your bus rental, Bus.com’s Book Now / Pay Later option is a game-changer. Team managers can relax knowing they’ve booked their group transportation well in advance, and can wait until 21 days prior to their departure date to finalize payment.
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
San Francisco Accommodations
The final piece of the away tournament puzzle is booking a hotel. As the host team, you can point away teams toward the safest and most appropriate neighbourhoods in your city. Go the extra mile by letting them know which hotels are best suited for sports teams.
In our experience, the Holiday Inn Express, Best Western, and La Quinta chains are best-suited for sports teams. Be it their ability to accommodate equipment, their experience with kids and their parents, or the team discounts they offer, 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.