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A Whole Different Ball Game

Host an unforgettable event at one of these exceptional southern stadiums

By Ava Diaz

The NASCAR racetrack at Atlanta Motor Speedway CREDIT Harold Hinson Photography

Groups want a memorable experience that stands out from past adventures. And often, an exclusive venue can have that magic touch to set events apart from one another. To accomplish this, consider moving your meeting or event outside of the boardroom and into a stadium or arena for a sporty gathering with no shortage of space. 

Home to the three-time Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, Amalie Arena in Tampa is a multipurpose facility that can accommodate up to 20,000 people. Completing a $100 million renovation in 2015 and featuring spaces that can accommodate client lunches, business meetings, and small parties, this refreshed venue is a good fit for events of all kinds.

“We are fortunate to have a large venue with an intimate feel,” says Marissa Moschel, director of corporate communications for Amalie Arena. Event spaces include indoor and outdoor options in the heart of Tampa—which was named the “Best Place to Live in Florida” by Forbes last December. The arena’s Club Level Rooftop can host 40 people reception-style, and the 11,000-square-foot Budweiser Biergarten features spectacular views of downtown Tampa in an al fresco setting. Head indoors to the ThunderZone at Section 312 for up to 50 people, make way to the Chase Club lounge on the fourth and fifth floors for up to 800 people, or buy out the Firestick Grill to accommodate up to 300 people.

Head northeast from Tampa to Orlando for an event at the Orlando City Exploria Soccer Stadium. This venue has event spaces suited for groups large and small and includes complimentary services with each three-hour rental, including event security, janitorial crews, microphones, risers and staging, and a 100-inch projector screen. The stadium’s largest space, the West Club, is 6,000 square feet and can accommodate up to 560 people. Other spaces include the Audi Party Suite, the Audi Sport Club, the Press Conference Room, Suite 10, and the VIP Lobby.

Just 25 minutes south of Atlanta, the Atlanta Motor Speedway is an 840-acre facility for events. While best known for its biannual NASCAR Cup Series, the speedway also plays host to other major events, such as the Monster Energy Supercross and Monster Jam, as well as the Georgia Spring Fair and the Georgia State Fair. “The scale and versatility of the facilities are unique,” says Tyler Head, communications manager for the Atlanta Motor Speedway. With seven indoor event spaces available for rental, event attendees have numerous options to choose from. The largest indoor space at the speedway is Club One, a 26,000-square-foot option for up to 600 seated or 800 standing guests. For smaller groups, consider the Marcy Scott Media Center, which can be split into three separate rooms (each 2,500 square feet) for a total capacity of 350 people; the Tara Ballroom, which offers 3,400 square feet for up to 275; or the Bootleggers Bar and the Restart Bar, great options for groups of up to 100.

Home of the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs will commemorate 150 years in 2024. This historic venue is undergoing an extensive renovation to adapt to event trends, says Jillian Waitkus, director of ticket, hospitality, and event sales for Churchill Downs. The three-phase project includes a new building located at the first turn of the track that features an interior dining space for up to 2,000 people and 5,000 exterior stadium seats on the second and third levels; a revitalized paddock with an additional 10,000 surrounding stadium seats; and the $45 million, 18,600-square-foot Homestretch Club.

A rendering of the new paddock entrance at Churchill Downs CREDIT Churchill Downs

Other indoor and outdoor event spaces include Millionaires Row, the Rooftop Garden, the Skye Terrace, the Trophy Room, the Triple Crown Room & Grand Foyer, Turf Club & Roses Lounge, and Winner Circle Suites & Courtyard. And in a nod to bourbon lovers, speakeasies are sprinkled around the facility grounds. “That is some of the allure to being quintessentially Kentucky [at Churchill Downs], whether it is an ode to the bourbon culture or the general racing,” Waitkus says.

Caesars Superdome in New Orleans boasts 80,000 square feet of event space, five luxury club spaces, and over 165,000 square feet of exhibit space on the stadium floor and main concourse. Its 7,000-square-foot premium bunker lounges, located on the Ground Level, can be rented for a private reception of up to 500 people, or they can work in conjunction with the Main Arena Floor as a VIP section for your gathering. The stadium’s two Club Lounges on the 200 Level of the Superdome feature built-in bars, access to LCD monitors, and room for up to 1,200 reception-style in its 13,000 square feet of space. For a more intimate reception, try the North End Zone Club with its 3,985 square feet of space for up to 200.

Batter Up! 

Truist Park in Atlanta, Georgia, has an on-field team-bonding experience. With batting practices and skill-specific instruction available for groups, your attendees are sure to have a ball. The batting practices are for groups of up to 150 and feature a pitching machine where guests can take a few swings on the field. The VIP practice experience—for groups of up to 50 players—consists of four instructional stations led by Atlanta Braves alumni (the players that take part depends on availability). Each station focuses on a different skill set: pitching a ball, fielding a ground ball, catching a pop-fly ball, and batting. For an all-encompassing experience, be a “Brave for a Day.” Participants of this experience will receive their own jersey, sign a contract, play on the field, and learn what it takes to be a professional baseball player. The indoor batting cages are also an option for smaller groups of 45 people. 

Groups can gather on the Truist Park field for interactive events. CREDIT Truist Park

“Everybody wants some kind of experience and something new and different that they can’t do any place else,” says Dawn Truemper, senior director of event sales for Truist Park. “Having the ability to be out on the field and in the dugout is an exceptional experi- ence … especially if you’re a baseball fan.”