Sports have a major impact on The Bend’s economy.
Notre Dame football home games, along with those of other major sports at the university, draw visitors from all over the country. Yet how sports interact with the community goes far beyond Notre Dame.
Youth sports — hockey, lacrosse, swimming, baseball and more — are significant drivers of visitor activity in the area. Couple that with the occasional professional event and you have a dynamic, year-round sports scene.
It’s no different in 2020. Big events beckon along with volume, a long-running schedule of youth events that will bring a steady flow of visitors. Plus, we’re welcoming a new sports franchise this year – the South Bend Lions, a USL League 2 soccer team in its first season – and construction is under way on a state-of-the-art esports arena inside Century Center.
Check out some of The Bend’s marquee events for the year, plus a full monthly calendar of what’s coming up.
America’s Youth on Parade
The biggest baton twirling competition in the country, AYOP has been held in the The Bend for decades. It returns to Notre Dame’s campus from July 21-25. Over 8,000 people attend, resulting in over 3,000 hotel room nights.
South Bend has become an undisputed youth hockey destination since the opening of Compton Family Ice Arena at Notre Dame. Compton pairs with the Ice Box to host tournaments practically every weekend throughout the season. Hockey Time Productions and 200×85 will combine to put on about 20 tournaments between September 2019 and April 2020, drawing teams from around the country. And that doesn’t include local and regional tournaments, plus some additional showcases. In 2019, youth hockey accounted for 28 events, 23,139 room nights, 43,594 attendees and $13.6 million in economic impact.
Lacrosse continues to quietly drive youth sports visitation to The Bend. Two organizations bring three tournaments every year. U.S. Lax Events puts on Rip the Duck (May 2-3) and Rip the Wave (July 18-19). Rip the Duck. Lacrosse America brings Luck O’ the Draw (June 20-21) to The Bend as well. These events combine for nearly 2,000 room nights.
This might not be the first sport you think of when considering the local scene, but it should be top of mind. VSBM has teamed up with the South Bend Racquet Club to host several United States Tennis Association events for both youth and adults in recent years. Over the past two years, these tournaments have brough in around 1,500 attendees and generated approximately $115,000 in economic impact. The USTA SBRC Junior Open (Feb. 15-16) at South Bend Racquet Clubs kicks off tennis season this year.
Approximately 42 teams from around Indiana and Michigan will descend on Penn High School from March 13-15 for the Indiana FIRST Robotics Competition, another yearly event. Teams have approximately six weeks to construct robots then compete on a basketball court-sized field.
After hosting the 2019 U.S. Senior Open at Warren Golf Course, The Bend has cemented itself as a premier Midwest golf destination. It’s not just one major event, however, that lends to this reputation. Blackthorn Golf Club has hosted the Four Winds Invitational, an LPGA Symetra Tour event, for years. It returns (June 1-7) again this year. Warren is hosting another big event, an NCAA Women’s Golf Regional from May 11-13. Then Knollwood Country Club will have youth golfers from around the country on one of its courses from July 26-30 for an American Junior Golf Association event. Last year the AJGA event attracted 96 players total from 19 states and five countries.
Bowling is set to emerge in 2020 as a major theme thanks in large part to one event – the Midwest Women’s Bowling Tournament. Spanning six weekends from May through June, the tournament is expecting approximately 1,500 bowlers. Singles and doubles competitions will be held at Chippewa Bowl in South Bend. Signature Lanes in Elkhart is hosting the team events.
Fast pitch Softball
Byers Softball Complex on South Bend’s west side is hosting the USA Softball Men’s Major Fastpitch tournament from July 30-Aug. 2. It’s the 11th time South Bend has hosted, the most of any city. Between 12 and 16 teams will compete.
All eyes in the motocross world turn to Redbud MX on July 4 as the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship swings through nearby Buchanan, Mich. Redbud is the most popular race on the circuit, bringing in about 28,000 spectators with many choosing to spend their overnights in The Bend.
Other Notable Events
For the first time, The Bend is home to a darts tournament. The Arachnid 360 Indiana Bullshooter Regional is coming to the Ramada by Wyndham from Jan. 17-19 … Sunburst Races are scheduled for June 6 this year. Runners from around the region will head to downtown South Bend for a 5K, 10K or half marathon. The Hometown Days Wiffleball Tournament is set for July 25-26 in New Carlisle. It welcomes about 70 teams a year.
Jan. 3-5: 200×85 Hockey, Compton Family Ice Arena/Ice Box
Jan. 3-5: Irish Aquatics January Meet, Rolfs Aquatics Center
Jan. 10-12: 200×85 Hockey, Compton Family Ice Arena/Ice Box
Jan. 17-19: Arachnid 360 Indiana Bullshooter Regional Darts, Ramada by Wyndham
Jan. 17-20: HockeyTime Productions, Compton Family Ice Arena/Ice Box
Jan. 24-26: 200×85 Hockey, Compton Family Ice Arena/Ice Box
Jan. 31-Feb. 2: PA Hockey – Hoosier Cup Interscholastic Showcase, Compton Family Ice Arena/Ice Box
Feb. 7-9: 200×85 Hockey, Compton Family Ice Arena/Ice Box
Feb. 14-17: HockeyTime Productions, Compton Family Ice Arena/Ice Box
Feb. 15-16: USTA SBRC Junior Open, South Bend Racquet Club
Feb. 21-23: HockeyTime Productions, Compton Family Ice Arena/Ice Box
Feb. 28-March 1: HockeyTime Productions, Compton Family Ice Arena/Ice Box
March 6-8: HockeyTime Productions, Compton Family Ice
March 13-15: HockeyTime Productions, Compton Family Ice Arena/Ice Box
March 13-15: Indiana FIRST Robotics Competition, Penn High School
March 20-22: HockeyTime Productions, Compton Family Ice Arena/Ice Box
April 17-19: NCBBA National Championships, IU South Bend
April 17-19: National Junior Prospects Hockey, Compton Family Ice Arena
April 24-26: HockeyTime Productions, Compton Family Ice Arena/Ice Box
May 1-3: CCM Girls Showcase, Compton Family Ice Arena
May 2-3: Rip the Duck Lacrosse, Jr. Irish Soccer Complex
May 8-10: CCM Boys Showcase, Compton Family Ice Arena
May 8-10: Irish Aquatics May Meet, Rolfs Aquatic Center
May 11-13: NCAA Women’s Golf Regional, Warren Golf Course
May 16-17: USTA Pie Seifert Adult + Junior Open, Leeper Park
May 22-24: Midwest Women’s Bowling Tournament (Week 1), Chippewa Bowl
May 22-24: Jr. Irish MDI Tournament, Jr. Irish Soccer Complex
May 29-31: Midwest Women’s Bowling Tournament (Week 2), Chippewa Bowl
June 1-7: LPGA Symetra Tour Four Winds Invitational,
Blackthorn Golf Club
June 5-7: Midwest Women’s Bowling Tournament (Week 3), Chippewa Bowl
June 5-6: Sunburst Races, Downtown South Bend
June 11-14: Pastime Irish Elite baseball, multiple venues
June 12-14: Midwest Women’s Bowling Tournament (Week 4), Chippewa Bowl
June 12-14: USTA Midwest Boys U18 Team Cup, Leeper Park
June 18-21: Pastime Great Lakes TOC baseball, multiple venues
June 19-21: Midwest Women’s Bowling Tournament (Week 5), Chippewa Bowl
June 20-21: Luck O the Draw lacrosse, Jr. Irish Soccer Complex
June 25-28: Pastime All Prospect Irish Select baseball, multiple venues
June 26-28: Midwest Women’s Bowling Tournament (Week 6), Chippewa Bowl
July 1-5: Redbud National, Redbud Motocross (Buchanan,
July 9-12: Pastime Best of the Great Lakes baseball, multiple venues
July 18-19: Rip the Wave lacrosse, Jr. Irish Soccer Complex
July 21-25: America’s Youth on Parade baton twirling, Purcell Pavilion
July 25-26: Hometown Days Wiffle Ball tournament, New Carlisle
July 26-30: AJGA Golf Tournament, Knollwood Country Club
July 30-Aug. 2: USA Softball Men’s Major Fastpitch, Byers Softball Complex
July 31-Aug. 2: Michiana Pickleball Tournament, Compton Family Ice Arena
Aug. 6-9: Pastime baseball, multiple venues
Aug. 11-13: Good Neighbor Games softball, Byers Softball Complex
Sept. 25-27: HockeyTime Productions, Compton Family Ice Arena/Ice Box
Oct. 16-18: HockeyTime Productions, Compton Family Ice
Oct. 24-25: USTA Girls Junior Open, South Bend Racquet Club
Nov. 13-15: HockeyTime Productions, Compton Family Ice
Nov. 27-29: St. Joe Thanksgiving Tournament, Compton Family Ice Arena/Ice Box
Dec. 4-6: HockeyTime Productions, Compton Family Ice