Myrtle Beach has landed another sports tourism event that officials expect will not only draw nearly 1,000 participants, but also hundreds of spectators.
USA Team Handball has selected Myrtle Beach as the site of its Collegiate National Championships, which will be April 23 through April 25 at Broadway at the Beach.
The championships will bring athletes from 15 men's and women's college intramural and club teams across the country, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Furman University and the United States Military Academy at West Point, officials say.
"We are extremely pleased to have Myrtle Beach as our host and an innovative setting for Collegiate National Championships this year," said Steve Pastorino, USA Team Handball general manager.
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"Athletes can expect three days of fun, sun and great handball."
This is the area's first national handball competition and the first such sporting event to be held at Broadway at the Beach, said Brad Dean, Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce president and CEO.
Handball, an Olympic sport, is an aggressive 7-on-7 team competition that takes place on an elongated basketball court.
Two teams face off on a court and players dribble, pass and shoot a ball into a goal.
Similar to a soccer ball, men's and women's handballs are about 22 to 23 inches and 21 to 22 inches in circumference.
"It's a very popular sport throughout the world, but hasn't quite hit the popularity in the United States," said Roy Edmondson, sports sales manager at the chamber.
"I thought it would be a great opportunity to bring in another event to bring in a significant amount of people and it gives them a chance to expose the sport out at Broadway at the Beach."
Teams will compete outdoors on two temporary courts that will likely be set up in the parking lot in front of Hard Rock Cafe, Edmondson said.
Last week, chamber officials announced that the World Soccer Tour, which has teams of three battle on the field, will hold its first three-on-three World Cup Championships in Myrtle Beach from Aug. 6 through Aug. 8.
The event will take place at Grand Park near The Market Common.
"I think every one of these events that we've landed recently has the potential to grow," Dean said.
"I think the destination is quickly evolving into a very competitive sports tourism destination and that stands to benefit everybody."