Whether you lob, kick, bat or do the backstroke, Cary is the place for top-notch sports programming and facilities. Thousands of local families use these amenities for everything from soccer practice to swim meets, but there’s more to Cary sports than meets the eye.

“We’re known nationally for our venues in soccer, baseball and tennis, for two reasons,” said Doug McRainey, director of Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources for the Town of Cary. “One, the facilities are well designed and maintained. Two is our staff. Most communities like ours don’t manage one facility, let alone three, so that’s unique. And with these venues, the community has a wonderful opportunity to experience events across the spectrum of sports.”

Beyond entertainment and youth athletic development, Cary sports boost the local economy — by $40 million over the past decade — and draw new neighbors seeking quality of life.  
“Cary has some of the finest venues and facilities in the U.S., and as a result is able to compete nationally against much larger markets,” said Scott Dupree, executive director of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance. “Within the sports event industry, the Town of Cary is well-respected and clearly regarded as a superb location for sporting events.”

Cary was even part of the original NCAA Championship City program, holding its own with much larger cities earning the designation, namely Indianapolis, Cleveland, St. Louis, San Antonio and San Diego.

So what does all this mean for your family’s fun?
Three must-visit sports stops owned and maintained by the Town of Cary — plus a nonprofit making its own splash on the athletics scene. Read on:

Cary Tennis Park  

The Cary Tennis Park serves as the sport’s community hub, says park supervisor and noted program director Sean Ferreira, and has since its opening in 2002.

That’s thanks to its volley of instructional offerings for all ages and skill levels, from private lessons, group clinics and leagues, to a competitive junior development program, the Cary Tennis Academy.
The park is designated by the Tennis Industry Association as a Tennis Welcome Center for its outstanding programs.

“The Cary Tennis Park is the largest tennis facility in North Carolina,” Ferreira said, “booking more than 110,000 hours of court use per year, and is host to more than 40 events and tournaments each year, highlighted by the Men’s and Women’s ACC Championships.”

Big: Largest tennis facility in N.C.

33: Number of courts

110K: Hours of court use booked per year

Will host: 2017 Division III Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships

Beyond its 33 courts and a well-equipped clubhouse, Cary Tennis Park aces park, Ferreira says, with scenic bridges, ample green space and seating integrated into the landscape of every bank of courts.

Tennis classes are available for ages 4 and up. Pay individual class fees, or take advantage of an annual park pass starting at $100. Non-residents are welcome too.

WakeMed Soccer Park

The ball is always in play at WakeMed Soccer Park, says Keith Jenkins, facility supervisor and a self-declared “soccer guy.”  

“The (professional team) Carolina RailHawks will have an action-packed season featuring close to 20 home matches including exhibition, regular season and U.S. Open Cup matches,” Jenkins said. “We’ll host the N.C. High School Lacrosse Championships in May, and in November and December we’ll host the ACC Men’s Soccer Tournament and the NCAA Men’s College Cup, respectively.” 

Events like the CASL National Soccer Series draw people from all 50 states. But Jenkins notes that the park is much more than a spectator-sport facility.

                                                                                                   Photo courtesy WakeMed Soccer Park

10K: Sellout crowd, for the 2013 NCAA Women’s College Cup

150: Park acreage  

Grass: Bermuda; overseeded with rye in cool months  

Fields’ mowing schedule: Daily year-round, weather permitting

Fields: Lighted stadium, 2 lighted match-only; 5 additional

Home to: Carolina Railhawks, pro soccer team

Will host: 2014 Division I Men’s Soccer College Cup & 2015 Division I Women’s Soccer College Cup

Non-soccer use: Full-length, nationally-recognized cross-country course

“WakeMed Soccer Park hosts other turf-based sports such as lacrosse and youth ultimate Frisbee,” he said. “We have a 5K cross-country course that hosts numerous cause runs and competitive events each year, and weekly high school and middle school races. Then we have our thousands of hours of daily (field) rentals by local schools and clubs for soccer.”

The park scores another goal for its cleanliness and perfectly manicured pitches, Jenkins notes, achieved by managing the number of hours of field use permitted.

Triangle Aquatic Center

The nonprofit Triangle Aquatic Center, not owned or operated by the Town of Cary, opened its doors in 2007 to offer aquatic programming from parent-child to women-only classes and competitive year-round swim teams, says aquatics director Julia Herman. It’s the largest public aquatic facility in the state.

TAC also hosts scuba diving, water polo and synchronized swimming organizations, and is home to track-out classes, clinics and private lessons.  

“If you’re not interested in swimming laps, we have an Aqua Fitness class available,” Herman noted. “And this past year we hosted MerFest, a festival of mermaids and mermen to aid various charities that support sea turtles on the coast of North Carolina. This is looking to become an annual event hosted here.  

Big: Largest public aquatic facility in N.C.  

3 pools: 50-meter competition; 10-lane, 25-yard training; warm water instructional

1,000: Spectator capacity, with another 600 on deck  

Serves: Ages 6 months to seniors

81-83 degrees F: Water temperature in training pool

“Triangle Aquatic Center is always looking to bring in new aquatic programming to cater to Triangle citizens,” she said.

New programs are posted online as they’re developed, alongside regularly scheduled offerings.

You don’t need a membership to use the aquatic center; passes are available from one-day to annual, and begin at $2.50, with children under age 2 admitted free. Walk-in swimming lanes are open as programming allows.

USA Baseball
National Training Complex

Cary hit a grand slam when the town was selected as the site of the USA Baseball National Training Complex, which opened here in 2007.

Spectators cheer high-level play featuring athletes from across the U.S., and international competitors from nations like Japan and Cuba.

“The NTC serves as the home of USA Baseball, our sport’s national governing body in the U.S.,” said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball executive director and CEO. “As such, a diverse group of athletes from 12U to professionals spend time on these fields, both male and female. Additionally, the NTC is home to events such as the Irish Classic and National High School Invitational.”

                                                                                                                 Photo Courtesy USA Baseball

1,754: Spectator seats, plus grass seating for 250

Opened: June 2007 in Thomas Brooks Park

Fields: 1 stadium, 3 training; all are maintained at MLB standards

Centerfield: 400 feet

Alumni to MLB include: Stephen Strasburg & Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals, Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles

Will host: 2014-2018 Division II Baseball Championships

The programming levels spotlight Cary, he says, and draw agents, college recruiters and the professional baseball community.

The quality of the complex, built to Major League Baseball standards, is also an advantage for local youth.

“As USA Baseball deals with elite-level athletes in our sport, that was a critical element of construction,” Seiler said. “If the playing fields can serve the highest level athlete, they will serve every user beyond that community or demographic.”

The NTC serves as home field for collegiate teams including Wake Tech, St. Augustine’s and William Peace universities, and offers camps, clinics and one-on-one instruction for youth, notes facility supervisor Chris Duty.

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