Rhode Island may be small in size, but it’s big on sports. Situated between New York City and Boston, Rhode Island offers a unique home-field advantage of accessibility. Nearly 15% of the nation’s population is located within 300 miles of Providence and Warwick. This year-round destination is home to first-class facilities and professional venues that are perfect for hosting any sporting event. From sailing along 400 miles of coastline to cutting an edgy slice of culture with the roller derby circuit, Rhode Island is the ultimate playground for your sporting event or meeting.
We all know the games don’t end after the final whistle – Rhode Island’s fun family attractions, pristine beaches and award-winning restaurants offer plenty for athletes and their families to do after the game.
Providence is known as an epicenter of higher education, with eight college and university campuses located in the city. This concentration of faculty and students adds a tangible energy to the city and makes an enduring impact on the creative and intellectual landscape of the community. Throughout your stay, whether you’re looking for a quick bite to eat or celebrating a special night out, you’ll find a wide range of nationally recognized dining options in Providence and throughout Rhode Island. “Dining as a whole is one of our large attractions. Twice a year we also have restaurant weeks. There are discounts, price-fixe meals, special menus and lots of accessible options for some of our higher-profile places,” Jonathan Walker, Rhode Island Sports Commission Sales Manager says.
The Rhode Island Sports Commission is a division of the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau (PWCVB) responsible for marketing and selling Providence, Warwick and all of RI as a premier destination for hosting sporting events and meetings. The Rhode Island Sports Commission team is looking to continue attracting new events and new sports to the area.
To make Rhode Island a premier sporting events destination for visitors in the Northeast.
Dunkin’ Donuts Center – While Providence has no shortage of impressive sporting venues, the Dunkin’ Donuts Center stands out as “the” destination for sports in Rhode Island. Home to the AHL Providence Bruins and the Big East Providence College Friars, the center features a 31,000-square-foot arena ﬂoor, a 25,000-square-foot concourse and can house a whopping 13,000 spectators. Though it was built in 1972, the center underwent an $80 million renovation in recent years. It has played host to major tournaments such as the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament and is open to sports planners looking to think big. As an added bonus, the center is perfect for event planning, as it connects directly to the Rhode Island Convention Center and the adjacent Omni Providence hotel.
Rhode Island Convention Center – If you’re looking for space, and lots of it, look no further than the Rhode Island Convention Center. Inside, you’ll ﬁnd a 100,000-square-foot exhibition hall, a 20,000-square-foot grand ballroom, and 23 multipurpose meeting rooms. For added convenience, visitors can connect directly from the RICC to the Omni Providence hotel and Providence Place mall. Over the years, the RICC has hosted major events in cheerleading, dance, roller derby, and much more, so the sky’s the limit when planning your next event.
Roger Williams Park Zoo – One of the nation’s oldest zoos, the Roger Williams Park Zoo stretches 40-acres in Providence. The zoo features multiple exhibits and over 160 species including African elephants, giraffes, zebras, snow leopards and more. Be sure to explore the Faces of the Rainforest exhibit, an immersive experience designed to give guests a true feel for life in South American rainforests.
Providence Children’s Museum – Check out the Providence Children’s Museum, where children can scale a two-story high climbing maze in The Climber, delight in the joys of water play at the Water Ways exhibit and more. The museum is open year-round and is a perfect option for a group activity.
Rhode Island School of Design – The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is one of the world’s leading institutions for art and design and offers visitors a chance to explore its unique museum collections from around the world. The museum features a collection of more than 100,000 objects ranging from ancient times to the present and offers exhibits for all ages. The museum is open year-round Tuesday through Sunday, with free admission Thursdays & Fridays from 5-7pm and Sundays 10am-5pm.
Providence River Boat Company – The scenic Providence River runs 8 miles through the city. Hop aboard an 18-passenger vessel at the Providence River Boat Company and learn about the sites from a knowledgeable tour guide. These 50-minute tours explore the Providence River, Riverwalk, Waterplace Park and the Providence Harbor and have won a range of awards including TripAdvisor’s “Certificate of Excellence” from 2015-2020.
Providence Kayak Company – Looking for a more active experience on the water? Providence Kayak Company offers kayak rentals and guided kayak tours through the Providence and Woonasquatucket Rivers, Riverwalk and Waterplace Park. Whether you’d like to go at your own pace or spot some historical landmarks with a guide, this is a unique way to explore the city through a whole new vantage point.
WaterFire – Don’t miss Providence’s signature event, WaterFire, an award-winning fire sculpture installation on the three rivers in downtown Providence. Created by local artist Barnaby Evans, WaterFire features 100 bonfires along the three Providence rivers. Along the route, spectators can enjoy live music and performances and boats passing along the flames. The WaterFire season typically runs from May through November on select evenings.
USACFC National Championships | April 9-10, 2022
The United States Association of Collegiate Fencing Clubs (USACFC) will bring 45 collegiate club fencing teams to Rhode Island College for a two-day tournament featuring team and individual events. This unique sports competition will begin early Saturday morning and run through Sunday evening. This year’s championship is expected to bring over $300,000 in direct spend to the Ocean State economy.
The Great Race | June 15-18, 2022
The Great Race is the country’s oldest, longest running and richest vintage automobile event. The iconic event has named Warwick, Rhode Island as the start city for the 2022 route. The competitive controlled-speed endurance road rally will bring its fleet of antique, vintage and collector cars and race teams to Rhode Island in June of 2022. The nine-day, 2,000-mile road rally will make eight overnight stops in destinations across the county after leaving Rhode Island, finishing the race in North Dakota. The drivers and event staff will utilize 950 room nights in Warwick area hotels.
North American Bridge Championships | July 13-24, 2022
The American Contract Bridge League will return to Rhode Island this summer for the North American Bridge Championships. The ten-day competition for bridge players of all levels of expertise will utilize over 11,000 hotel room nights in the Providence area to accommodate the players and staff expected at the regional event. The event will take place at the Rhode Island Convention Center. The 2022 NABC is expected to generate an economic impact of nearly $7 million.
For visitors arriving by car, the Providence and Warwick areas are only a 60-minute drive from Boston and 3 hours from New York. The Amtrak station is a short walk to the RI Convention Center and most downtown hotels. The station also offers commuter rail transportation to Boston and to the award-winning Rhode Island T.F. Green International Airport in Warwick, which offers an average of 80 daily nonstop flights. Its InterLink facility offers scheduled rail service from Warwick to Providence and Boston and includes a consolidated rental car facility and bus transportation options. Additionally, Boston’s Logan International Airport is less than 50 miles from Providence. Logan offers nonstop service to 70 U.S. cities and 30 international destinations.
“We are accessible no matter how you are arriving. The walkability is super easy in the city. There are also e-bikes, e-scooters and buses available, so it’s easy to get around anywhere here. While you’re here, if you’d like to check out Newport from Providence, there is a round-trip ferry that stops in Bristol as well. One of the benefits of being such a small state is you are never too far from anything,” Greg Desrosiers says.
“Providence has a lot of compact hotel access. We have a couple of really cool properties that are new to the market in Providence,” Walker shares. Aloft Providence Downtown is a sleek new hotel in the downtown area with a rooftop bar and outdoor space. For a luxurious and modern feel, stay at the new Beatrice Hotel. Built in an old bank building, the boutique hotel offers a quaint, historic Providence experience with a modern twist. For those playing at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center or Rhode Island Convention Center, the Omni Providence hotel connects to both venues via skywalk.
John Gibbons and his team at the Providence Warwick CVB have been great to work with and have been a tremendous partner of ours. We have grown from six teams in 2008 to 225 teams in 2021 due to their help. We’ve even expanded our operations into softball here in Rhode Island and now have one of the biggest tournaments on the East Coast at 225 teams!— Mark Cooke, Firecracker Sports
The PWCVB and Rhode Island Sports Commission play a critical role in the planning and placement of our stay-to-play youth hockey tournaments each year. Their relationships within the Rhode Island hotel and hospitality communities have been a great asset to our Ocean State Tournament Series for several years.— Dan Fawcett, RI Sports Center
For more information on all Rhode Island has to offer or to book your next event today, head to their state page here!