Commentary

Global Forming: A Plan for Major 2007 Sporting Events

Updated: October 3, 2007, 7:28 PM ET
By Bryan Williams | Special to ESPN Sports Travel

If that sparkling new University of Phoenix Stadium looked like a sweet place to take in a football game as Florida rocked Ohio State's world in the BCS Championship, ESPN SportsTravel is here to help you take in more of the same.

Locales the world over — all seeking big exposure and even bigger dollars that come with major sporting events — vie to play the hospitable host each year, and we've got the winners for 2007.

Indeed, there are unique and extraordinary venues aplenty to check out on the list.

San Francisco's AT&T Park, one of the baseball's jewels, has the MLB All-Star Game this summer. London's newly renovated Wembley Stadium (FA Cup) and Scotland's historic Hampden Park (UEFA Cup) will be the destinations of choice for soccer fans. And the Arc de Triomphe will be the finish line for cycling enthusiasts who follow the Tour de France peloton to Paris.

Sun worshipers seeking warm weather to go with their sports travels will have no trouble finding it. Between the Super Bowl in Miami, the Final Four in Atlanta and the NHL All-Star Game in Dallas, there's much to take in across the southern United States. But true beach bums will want to head to the Caribbean isle of Barbados for the Cricket World Cup finale.

For those inclined a bit more toward the, shall we say, active lifestyle, Las Vegas hosts two big hoops events this year — the NBA All-Star Game and the Americas' Olympic qualifier. And in July, the Pan American Games will take up residence in Rio de Janeiro, a party-fueled wonderland that could provide the perfect escape for disconsolate Buckeyes fans.

NHL All-Star Game
Jan. 24 | Dallas
After a two-year hiatus, this tilt at the American Airlines Center will be the culmination of five days' worth of events in Dallas, so pack your favorite sweater and arrive early.
ico_orbitzDallas: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight | Buy tickets

Super Bowl XLI
Feb. 4 | Miami
It's a south Florida-style Super Bowl Sunday for the ninth time, as football's crowning glory throws down at Dolphin Stadium. Prince, Beyonce and Billy Joel are confirmed. No word, yet, on whether they're the performers or the refs.
ico_orbitzMiami: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight | Buy tickets

NBA All-Star Game
Feb. 18 | Las Vegas
Vegas gets a taste of a major professional sport at its Thomas & Mack Center as NBA players, celebs and fans gather for a long-weekend party in the desert. As if Sin City needed the help.
ico_orbitzLas Vegas: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight | Buy tickets

ACC Tournament (Basketball)
March 8-11 | Tampa, Fla.
It may be a neutral site, but the St. Pete Times Forum — home of the NHL's Lightning — will hold plenty of bad blood when the most-competitive conference tourney in men's college hoops hits the court.
ico_orbitzTampa: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight | Buy tickets

FINA World Championships (Swimming)
March 17 to April 1 | Melbourne
Recently retired Ian Thorpe — Australia's beloved Thorpedo — won't be in the pool as the swimming worlds return to his home country, so American star Michael Phelps will look to grab the spotlight once again.
ico_orbitzMelbourne: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight

NCAA Tournament, Men's Final Four
March 31 to April 2 | Atlanta
The Big Dance returns to Atlanta as the lucky Georgia Dome gets the Final Four for the second time in six years. Defending-champ Florida and the Gator faithful would love to make the easy trip up from Gainesville.
ico_orbitzAtlanta: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight | Buy tickets

NCAA Tournament, Women's Final Four
April 1-3 | Cleveland
Women's hoops rocks northern Ohio at "The Q." LeBron James will have to take a seat at Quicken Loans Arena as the top teams in women's college basketball square off for the championship.
ico_orbitzCleveland: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight | Buy tickets

Cricket World Cup Final
April 28 | Bridgetown, Barbados
More than six weeks of cricket held in eight different venues across the Caribbean leads to the tiny island of Barbados for the final. Two-time defending champion Australia headlines the 16 teams set to compete.
ico_orbitzBridgetown: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight

UEFA Cup Final (Soccer)
May 16 | Glasgow, Scotland
Scottish national football stadium Hampden Park, a fixture in Glasgow since 1903 and at one time the world's largest venue, closes out the consolation bracket for European club teams.
ico_orbitzGlasgow: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight

FA Cup Final (Soccer)
May 19 | London
The new (and much-delayed) Wembley Stadium, under construction since 2002 and on deck for Olympics duty in 2012, is scheduled to host English football's 126th final.
ico_orbitzLondon: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight

UEFA Champions League Final (Soccer)
May 23 | Athens
Olympic Stadium, the centerpiece of the 2004 Summer Olympics, will serve as the pinnacle of European football as the Champions League concludes and the trophy is hoisted in Greece.
ico_orbitzAthens: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight

U.S. Open (Golf)
June 14-17 | Oakmont, Pa.
A demanding course located just outside of Pittsburgh, Oakmont Country Club hosts the U.S. Open for the eighth time (its 11th major overall) since it was constructed in 1903.
ico_orbitzPittsburgh: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight | Buy tickets

America's Cup
June 23 to July 7 | Valencia, Spain
Switzerland's Alinghi became the first European team ever to win the world's most esteemed regatta in 2003 and now awaits its challenger. Larry Ellison and his BMW Oracle Racing team hope to earn a trip to the Mediterranean coast for a chance to bring the Cup back to the U.S.
ico_orbitzValencia, Spain: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight

International Frisbee Tournament
June 29 to July 2 | Houghton, Mich.
Squads from all over the world descend on the Upper Peninsula for the IFT's 50th annual Guts competition. The rules of Guts are simple: Two teams line up facing one another and take turns hurling the flying disk at one another as hard as possible. A drop scores a point for the throwing team; in a fiendish twist, the disk can only be caught with one hand.
ico_orbitzHoughton, Mich.: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight

Major League Baseball All-Star Game
July 10 | San Francisco
The kayaks and inflatable rafts will be packed into McCovey Cove for Monday's home-run derby and Tuesday's All-Star Game as the Midsummer Classic finally heads to gorgeous AT&T Park in the Golden Gate City.
ico_orbitzSan Francisco: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight | Buy tickets

Pan American Games
July 13-29 | Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Though the U.S. typically dominates the medal count, the Pan Am Games are relatively unpopular among Americans. Still, the event is a great excuse to spend some time soaking in the wild atmosphere in Rio.
ico_orbitzRio de Janeiro: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight

British Open
July 19-22 | Carnoustie, Scotland
Tiger Woods goes for his third straight British Open victory at Scotland's infamous Carnoustie Golf Links, a course nicknamed the "beast" for its challenging layout and unpredictable winds.
ico_orbitzEdinburgh: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight

PGA Championship
Aug. 9-12 | Tulsa, Okla.
The tour's final major of the season sets up shop in northeast Oklahoma as Southern Hills Country Club becomes the first course to host four PGA Championships.
ico_orbitzTulsa: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight | Buy tickets

FIBA Americas Championship (Basketball)
Aug. 22 to Sept. 2 | Las Vegas
With all the trappings of Sin City as a backdrop, the U.S. basketball team looks to bounce back from its embarrassing fourth-place finish at this event in 2005. The top two teams qualify for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
ico_orbitzLas Vegas: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight

IAAF World Championships in Athletics
Aug. 24 to Sept. 2 | Osaka, Japan
Banned U.S. sprinter Justin Gatlin won't be back to defend his two 2005 gold medals, but this international track and field event is expecting athletes from 212 countries — more than the 2004 Olympics — to compete at Nagai Stadium.
ico_orbitzOsaka: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight

World Gymnastics Championships
Sept. 1-9, Stuttgart, Germany
German-born American Jana Bieger was a surprise second-place finisher in the all-around competition last year. She and the U.S. squad will look to topple defending team champion China.
ico_orbitzStuttgart: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight

FIBA European Championship (Basketball)
Sept. 3-16 | Spain (Palma de Mallorca; Alicante; Sevilla; Granada; Madrid)
Dirk Nowitzki (Germany), Tony Parker (France) and home favorite Pau Gasol (Spain) are just a few of the NBA stars set to appear in the European Olympic qualifying tournament. Four cities host preliminary play, and all subsequent rounds are in Madrid.
ico_orbitzMadrid: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight

FIFA Women's World Cup (Soccer)
Sept. 10-30 | China (Tianjin; Wuhan; Hangzhou; Chengdu; Shanghai)
The U.S. women won the inaugural Women's World Cup when it was held in China in 1991; they go for their third title as the event makes its return. Shanghai will host the opening match and the final.
ico_orbitzShanghai: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight

Rugby World Cup Final
Oct. 20 | Saint-Denis, France
Twenty nations will batter and bruise their way around France for 44 days in an effort to reach the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis and a shot at the Webb Ellis Cup. The Stade de France, opened in 1998 for the FIFA World Cup, hosts the championship match.
ico_orbitzParis: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight

Big 12 Championship (Football)
Dec. 1 | San Antonio
One of the few powerhouse college conferences to hold a football championship game, the Big 12 will send its North and South Division champs to the Alamodome for a year's worth of bragging rights.
ico_orbitzSan Antonio: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight


Key dates for non-rotating events

Australian Open (Tennis)
Jan. 15-28 | Melbourne
The two main courts at Melbourne Park feature the only retractable roofs in Grand Slam tennis.
ico_orbitzMelbourne: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight

NFL Pro Bowl
Feb. 10 | Honolulu
After the season grind, football's best head to the Aloha State for a light-hearted (and light-hitting?) showcase.
ico_orbitzHonolulu: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight | Buy tickets

Daytona 500
Feb. 18 | Daytona Beach, Fla.
The NASCAR schedule gets under way with The Great American Race in Daytona Beach.
ico_orbitzDaytona Beach: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight | Buy tickets

Big East Championship (Basketball)
March 7-11 | New York
Madison Square Garden, the longest-tenured host of any college-conference tourney, has been home to the Big East's since 1983.
ico_orbitzNew York: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight | Buy tickets

The Masters
April 5-8 | Augusta, Ga.
Tiger, Phil and company head back to Augusta National, the only permanent site among golf's major championships.
ico_orbitzAugusta: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight | Buy tickets

Kentucky Derby
May 5 | Louisville, Ky.
Competition for horse racing's Triple Crown opens with the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs.
ico_orbitzLouisville: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight | Buy tickets

Preakness
May 19 | Baltimore
The thoroughbreds pick up the pace at Pimlico Race Course, the shortest track on the Triple Crown circuit.
ico_orbitzBaltimore: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight | Buy tickets

Indy 500
May 27 | Indianapolis
An estimated 270,000 gearheads will pack the largest sports venue on Earth for its 91st running at The Brickyard.
ico_orbitzIndianapolis: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight | Buy tickets

French Open
May 27 to June 10 | Paris
Rafael Nadal goes after his third consecutive championship on the clay courts at Roland Garros.
ico_orbitzParis: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight

Belmont Stakes
June 9 | New York
The 1-mile track at Belmont Park witnessed in 1973 one of the greatest achievements in sports history when Secretariat won by 31 lengths.
ico_orbitzNew York: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight | Buy tickets

College World Series
June 15-24 | Omaha, Neb.
The NCAA baseball tournament concludes with this eight-team event held annually at Rosenblatt Stadium.
ico_orbitzOmaha: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight | Buy tickets

Wimbledon
June 25 to July 8 | London
Roger Federer looks to become the first player since Bjorn Borg to win five straight titles at the oldest event in the court system.
ico_orbitzLondon: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight

Tour de France
July 7-29 | Paris
In the wake of doping scandals that involved 2006 champion Floyd Landis, the Tour returns for its 94th running.
ico_orbitzParis: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight

U.S. Open (Tennis)
Aug. 27 to Sept. 9 | Flushing, N.Y.
The season's final Grand Slam event is held at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, a facility open for public play the rest of the year.
ico_orbitzNew York: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight | Buy tickets

SEC Championship (Football)

Dec. 1 | Atlanta
The Southeastern Conference's Eastern and Western Division champs go head-to-head in the Georgia Dome.
ico_orbitzAtlanta: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight

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