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Sports City, USA is a hit with sports fans

Football, soccer, baseball, basketball, lacrosse, badminton, golf, and hockey are all played in Frisco, a city in north Texas with about 177,000 residents. The community is taking a victory lap after a decade of additions have bolstered its lineup so that the city’s marketing organization has claimed the title Sports City, USA.

The highlight reel includes six professional franchises that call Frisco home: the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys; NHL’s Dallas Stars; Major League Soccer’s FC Dallas; Frisco RoughRiders, the Double-A affiliate of MLB’s Texas Rangers; Indoor Football League’s Frisco Fighters; and Texas Legends, the NBA’s G League affiliate of the Dallas Mavericks.

Plus, youth, high school, collegiate, and Olympic-level associations bring annual events to the city, including college football championships and bowl games, college basketball conference finals, youth soccer, and international gymnastics, among others.

The latest additions are the National Soccer Hall of Fame Experience, which opened in 2018 as part of a $55 million upgrade at the city’s Toyota Stadium, and the planned relocation in 2022 of PGA of America, which will bring new golf courses and elite tournaments.

The National Soccer Hall of Fame Experience in Frisco, Texas, has more than 400 artifacts from the evolution of the sport in the United States and also features interactive games. Photo by MeLinda Schnyder.

Frisco is about a 25-mile drive directly north from downtown Dallas. The nearest airports are McKinney National Airport, about a 15-mile drive east of Frisco, and Addison Airport, 14 miles south.

Here’s a look at Frisco’s lineup.

Texas Legends

This Gatorade League affiliate of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks have called Frisco home since the team first formed in 2009. They play at the Comerica Center, often to a sold-out crowd.

Frisco RoughRiders

The Frisco RoughRiders play their minor league baseball games at Dr Pepper Ballpark and have topped attendance among the 30 Double-A teams for the past 15 seasons. The team’s regular season stretches May through mid-September, and they have a promotional calendar full of theme nights, fireworks shows, giveaways, and celebrity appearances.

More than 160 former RoughRiders have gone on to play in the majors, including Elvis Andrus, Nomar Mazara, and Joey Gallo.

The ballpark added a 174-foot-long Choctaw Lazy River in 2016, and it is considered “one of the most unique viewing and entertainment experiences in all of professional sports.” It is reserved for group outings (it holds 200) except on Thursdays and Sundays, when individuals can purchase tickets with access to swim, wade, or float on the gently flowing river.

Dallas Stars

The NHL team uses Comerica Center as corporate headquarters and practice ice, then plays home games at American Airlines Center in Dallas. Stars practices that take place at Comerica Center in Frisco are free and open to the public. Adjacent to the team’s practice ice is one sheet of ice for high school hockey and figure skating, as well as amateur leagues. The Stars and Frisco regularly host championships and tournaments, such as some games of the 2017 USA Hockey Youth Championships.

FC Dallas and National Soccer Hall of Fame Experience

FC Dallas is playing its twenty-sixth MLS season, which runs April to November. The team has played at Toyota Stadium since 2005, when it opened as one of the first soccer-specific stadiums in the country. Across the street from the complex is Frisco Square, stocked with specialty shops, restaurants, and a cluster of entertainment options including Frisco Heritage Village and Museum and the Sci-Tech Discovery Center.

Among the dining options in Frisco is Hutchin’s BBQ, whose original location, in nearby McKinney, was listed as one of the Top 50 barbecue joints in the state on Texas Monthly’s most recent list (2017). Photo by MeLinda Schnyder.

The stadium underwent a $55 million upgrade that was complete in 2018, including adding about 19,000 square feet for what was the first major sports hall of fame within an operating stadium. The National Soccer Hall of Fame Experience honors more than 200 hall of fame inductees, chronicles the growth of the sport through high-tech displays, and has more than a dozen hands-on exhibits.

The interactives range from juggling a soccer ball through gesture technology to playing goalie using a virtual reality headset. History displays include videos, touch screens, and more than 500 artifacts—such as historic game balls, Olympic medals, and vintage jerseys from some of the game’s greats, including an autographed Pelé New York Cosmos jersey. A trophy case overlooking the MLS field is now the permanent home of the 1991, 1999, 2015, and 2019 U.S. Women’s FIFA World Cup trophies.

Dallas Cowboys

Having been surprised by an amazing art tour at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, where the Cowboys play their home games 40 miles from Frisco, I wanted to see what Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had come up with in Frisco. I wasn’t disappointed.

If you’re a fan of “America’s Team,” you’re going to geek out here; but even if you’re not, it’s interesting to see the Dallas Cowboys World Headquarters.

The Star is a 91-acre campus that includes Cowboys’ offices; training facilities; and an adjacent entertainment district with a hotel, restaurants, and shopping. The team moved its operations here in 2016 when the development opened.

Guided tours (watch for them to resume in 2022) take you through The Ford Center, the 510,000-square-foot indoor athletic facility that also hosts other sports and nonathletic events, as well as Cowboys-only facilities: the plush locker room; the film room; the war room, a high-tech area where executives prepare for and conduct the draft; history displays, including one of legendary coach Tom Landry’s fedoras and the evolution of the team’s uniforms dating back to 1960; Super Bowl trophies and rings; and artwork throughout the interior, from larger-than-life-photographic prints to contemporary art installations.

Thousands of Cowboys fans come to Frisco each August for a week of training camp special events, from open practices to family-friendly activities inside the Ford Center as well as on the 60-yard football field used as a park in front of the facility.

Frisco Fighters

Named as an homage to the North Texas region’s aviation and military defense industries, the Frisco Fighters play regular season games from May through July at Comerica Center. 2021 was the first season for this Indoor Football League franchise.

PGA Frisco

PGA of America is moving its headquarters from Florida to Frisco and partnering with Omni Hotel & Resorts to create PGA Frisco, a destination for golfers of all skill levelsGolf architects Gil Hanse and Beau Welling are each designing championship golf courses and there also will be a 10-hole short course and practice areas. The golf courses are planned to open to the public in 2022, followed by the massive Omni PGA Frisco Resort. The entire complex is scheduled to open in time to host the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship in May 2023, kicking off a slate of 26 championships scheduled in Frisco through 2034, including the PGA Championship (2027, 2034) and the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (2025, 2031)

Don’t forget there are year-round activities to fill up your time away from the competition. Just south of The Star is the Texas Sculpture Garden featuring more than 40 contemporary works by prominent Texas artists. Frisco also is home to the National Videogame Museum, which opened in 2016 as the only museum in the country dedicated to the history of the video game industry. Admission includes a few tokens for the retro arcade you’ll walk through just before you exit the museum.

If you’re a sports junkie, just about any time of year is a good time to visit Frisco to catch someone in season or the facilities being used for special events. If you know who you want to see, check the schedules and make plans to fly to Frisco.

Across the street from Frisco’s Toyota Stadium is Frisco Square, a tree-lined shopping, dining, and entertainment development. Photo by MeLinda Schnyder.

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