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Hampton Roads has become known as the “world’s greatest natural harbor”. The port is located only 18 miles (29km) from open ocean on one of the world’s deepest, natural ice-free harbors. Since 1989, Hampton Roads has been the mid-Atlantic leader in U.S. waterborne foreign commerce and is ranked second nationally behind the Port of South Louisiana based on export tonnage. When import and export tonnage are combined, the Port of Hampton Roads ranks as the third largest port in the country (following the ports of New Orleans/South Louisiana and Houston). In 1996, Hampton Roads was ranked ninth among major U.S. ports in vessel port calls with approximately 2,700. In addition, this port is the U.S. leader in coal exports. The coal loading facilities in the Port of Hampton Roads are able to load in excess of 65 million tons annually, giving the port the largest, most efficient and modern coal loading facilities in the world.
It is little surprise therefore that the Hampton Roads region’s economic base is largely port-related, including shipbuilding, ship repair, naval installations, cargo transfer and storage, and manufacturing related to the processing of imports and exports. Associated with the ports’ military role are almost 50,000 federal civilian employees.
The harbor of Hampton Roads is an important highway of commerce, especially for the cities of Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Newport News.
Huntington Ingalls Industries (formerly Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company), was created in 2008 as a spinoff of Northrop Grumman Newport News and is the world’s largest shipyard. It is located a short distance up the James River. In Portsmouth, a few miles up the Elizabeth River, the historic Norfolk Naval Shipyard is located. BAE Systems, formerly known as NORSHIPCO, operates from sites in the City of Norfolk. There are also several smaller shipyards, numerous docks and terminals.
Massive coal piers and loading facilities were established in the late 19th and early 20th century by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O), Norfolk and Western Railway (N&W), and Virginian Railway (VGN). The latter two were predecessors of the Norfolk Southern Railway, a Class I railroad which has its headquarters in Norfolk, and continues to export coal from a large facility at Lambert’s Point on the Elizabeth River. CSX Transportation now serves the former C&O facility at Newport News. (The VGN’s former coal facility at Sewell’s Point has been gone since the 1960s, and the property is now part of the expansive Norfolk Navy Base).
Almost 80% of the region’s economy is derived from federal sources. This includes the large military presence, but also NASA and facilities of the Departments of Energy, Transportation, Commerce and Veterans Affairs. The region also receives a substantial impact in government student loans and grants, university research grants, and federal aid to cities.
The Hampton Roads area has the largest concentration of military bases and facilities of any metropolitan area in the world. Nearly one-fourth of the nations active-duty military personnel are stationed in Hampton Roads, and 45% of the region’s $81B gross regional output is Defense-related. All five military services operating forces are there, as well as several major command headquarters: Hampton Roads is a chief rendezvous of the United States Navy, and the area is home to the Allied Command Transformation, which is the only major military command of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on U.S. soil. Langley Air Force Base is home to Air Combat Command (ACC). The Norfolk Navy Base is located at Sewell’s Point near the mouth, on the site used for the tercentennial Jamestown Exposition in 1907. For a width of 500 feet (150m) the Federal government during 1902 through 1905 increased its minimum depth at low water from 25.5 to 30 feet (8 to 9m), and the channel has now been dredged to a depth of 55 feet (17m) in some places.
NASA’s Langley Research Center, located on the Peninsula adjacent to Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, is home to scientific and aerospace technology research. The Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (commonly known as Jefferson Labs) is located nearby in Newport News.
The area’s experiences with commercial and retail centers began early in 1918. Afton Square, located in the Cradock naval community of Portsmouth, was the first planned shopping center in the USA and has served as template for future developments throughout the nation.
Hampton Roads experienced tremendous growth during and after World War II. In the 1950s, a trend in retail was the shopping center, a group of stores along a common sidewalk adjacent to off-street parking, usually in a suburban location.
In 1959, one of the largest on the east coast of the USA was opened at the northeast corner of Military Highway and Virginia Beach Boulevard on property which had formally been used as an airfield. The new JANAF Shopping Center, located in Norfolk, featured acres of free parking and dozens of stores. Backed by retired military personnel, the name JANAF was an acronym for Joint Army Navy Air Force.
During the 1950s and early 1960s, other shopping centers in Hampton Roads were developed, such as Wards Corner Shopping Center, Downtown Plaza Shopping Center and Southern Shopping Center in Norfolk; Mid-City Shopping Center in Portsmouth; Hilltop Shopping Center (now known as The Shops at Hilltop) in Virginia Beach; Riverdale Shopping Center in Hampton and the Warwick-Denbigh Shopping Center in Newport News.
In the late-1960s, a new type of shopping center came to Hampton Roads: the Indoor Shopping Mall. In 1965, South Hampton Roads broke ground on its first shopping mall in Virginia Beach, known as Pembroke Mall. The mall opened in 1966, and became Hampton Road’s newest indoor shopping destination. The Virginia Peninsula had its first indoor shopping mall in 1973, with Coliseum Mall. Coliseum Mall drew so much traffic from Interstate 64, that a towering flyover was built at the Mercury Boulevard and Coliseum Drive intersection, to accommodate eastbound mall traffic, from the Mercury Boulevard interchange. Coliseum Mall was demolished to make way for the open air mixed-use development Peninsula Town Center. Also in the 1970s, Tower Mall was built in Portsmouth, but was torn down and turned into the Victory Crossing shopping development. In Norfolk, Military Circle Mall on Military Highway was built across Virginia Beach Boulevard from the large JANAF Shopping Center with its own high-rise hotel right in the center. In 1981, Greenbrier Mall gave Chesapeake a shopping mall of its own as well, and Virginia Beach got the massive Lynnhaven Mall the same year.
MacArthur Center opened in March 1999, which made downtown Norfolk a prime shoppers destination, with the region’s first Nordstrom department store anchor. MacArthur Center is compared to other downtown malls, such as Baltimore’s Harborplace, Indianapolis’ Circle Centre Mall, Atlanta’s Lenox Square Mall and most comparably to The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City near Washington, D.C., in Arlington, Virginia.
Currently, Virginia Beach’s Lynnhaven Mall is the region’s largest shopping center with nearly 180 stores, and is one of the region’s biggest tourist draws, with the Virginia Beach oceanfront, Colonial Williamsburg, Busch Gardens Williamsburg: The Old Country and MacArthur Center.
For a long time, the indoor shopping malls were seen as largely competitive with small shopping centers and traditional downtown type areas. However, in the 1990s and since, the “big-box stores” on the Peninsula and Southside, such as Wal-mart, Home Depot, and Target have been creating a new competitive atmosphere for the shopping malls of Hampton Roads.
Several older malls such as Pembroke and Military Circle have since their grand openings been renovated, and others have been closed and torn down. Newmarket North Mall is now NetCenter, a business center (the Sears store remains). Coliseum Mall, in Hampton, has been redeveloped as Peninsula Town Center in a new style, in step with the latest commercial real estate trend: the nationwide establishment of “lifestyle centers”. Additional malls which have closed include Mercury Mall in Hampton (converted to Mercury Plaza Shopping Center in the mid-1980s, then completely torn down in 2001), and Tower Mall in Portsmouth (Built in the early 1970s, then torn down in 2001).
In late 2006, the Hampton Roads Partnership, a non-profit organization representing 17 localities (ten cities, six counties, and one town), all local universities and major military commands as well as leading businesses in southeastern Virginia, commenced a campaign aimed at branding the land area of Hampton Roads as “America’s First Region”.
The new title is based on events in 1607 when English Captain Christopher Newport’s three ships the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery landed at Cape Henry along the Atlantic Coast in what is today Virginia Beach. After 18 days of exploring the area, the ships and their crews arrived at Jamestown Island where they established the first English speaking settlement to survive in the New World on May 14, 1607.
Because the region’s east-west boundaries (now the City of Virginia Beach and James City County) have not changed since 1607, the Partnership felt justified in labeling Hampton Roads “America’s First Region”. It unveiled the new brand before 800 people at the annual meeting of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce on December 13, 2006. A video shown that afternoon included endorsements from mayors and county board of supervisors chairs representing Hampton, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Williamsburg and James City County as well as the Governor of Virginia, Timothy Kaine.
The mission of Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance (HREDA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to business attractionmarketing the Hampton Roads region as the preferred location for business investment and expansion. HREDA represents the cities of Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, Williamsburg and Franklin, as well as the counties of Gloucester, James City, Isle of Wight, York, and Southampton.
In 1998, a flag representing the Hampton Roads region was adopted. The design of the flag was created by a contest. The winner, sixteen-year-old Andrew J. Wall of Frank W. Cox High School in Virginia Beach, raised the new regional flag for the first time on the mast of a ship moored in the harbor.
As conceived by student Andrew Wall and embellished by the selection committee, his flag is highly symbolic:
The area is most often associated with the larger American South. People who have grown up in the Hampton Roads area have a unique Tidewater accent which sounds different from a stereotypical Southern accent. Vowels have a longer pronunciation than in a regular southern accent.
There’s also a wealth of other points of history to explore in the Hampton Roads area. Led by the Historic Triangle area, Hampton Roads consistently rates among the top tourism destinations in the world.
Cultural attractions include museums, historical sites, and venues from tiny to massively large for such things as art and musical shows. The region hosts two week-long visits by the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus each year with multiple performances at Norfolk Scope and the Hampton Coliseum, and even attracts a group of Circus Train Enthusiasts, railfans who watch, photograph and report on the blue or red unit trains as they make their move between the two sites, requiring a long inland trip through Petersburg and Richmond in order to avoid crossing the 10-mile (16km) geographical distance across the harbor (a trip impassable directly by modern trains; the two bridge-tunnel facilities operated by VDOT accommodate only highway traffic).
The Historic Triangle is located on the Virginia Peninsula and includes the colonial communities of Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown, with many restored attractions linked by the Colonial Parkway.
The National Park Service’s Colonial Parkway joins the three popular attractions of Colonial Virginia with a scenic and bucolic roadway carefully shielded from views of commercial development. This helps visitors mentally return to the past, and there are often views of wildlife and waterfowl. This two lane roadway is the best (but not quickest) way to move between the three points. Near the James River and York River ends of the parkway, there are several pull-offs, where some families allow their children to feed bread to the seagulls. Commercial vehicles, except for tour buses, are prohibited.
For an even better experience, approach the area from the south by water from Surry County with a ride aboard one of the Jamestown Ferrys, which include the Pocahontas and Williamsburg. As passengers cross, they can walk about the boat or go up to an enclosed viewing level with restrooms. Weather and daylight permitting, passengers usually see Jamestown Island much as the first colonists may have approached it. In fact, the replicas of Christopher Newport’s the three tiny ships, Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery are docked near the northern ferry landing at Glass House Point. Both the Jamestown Ferry and Colonial Parkway are toll-free.
The first permanent English settlement in the New World which was established at Jamestown in 1607. The 350th anniversary celebration at Jamestown Festival Park in 1957 was so popular, tourism has been continuously increasing ever since. The 400th anniversary was celebrated with an 18-month-long celebration called Jamestown 2007.
Today, at Jamestown, you can visit recreations of an American Indian village and colonial fort, and archaeological sites where current work is underway by archaeologistss from the Jamestown Rediscovery project, with recently recovered archaeological artifacts in a new display building. Replicas of the three ships, Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery are docked nearby.
The two major attractions, which are complementary to each other, are the state-sponsored Jamestown Settlement near the entrance to Jamestown Island, and the National Park Service’s Historic Jamestowne, on Jamestown Island itself.
In 1699, the first capital of Virginia was moved to Middle Plantation at the suggestion of students from the College of William & Mary (established 1693). It was soon renamed to Williamsburg, but became a largely forgotten little town after the capital was moved to Richmond in 1780. Largely due to the 20th-century preservation efforts of the Reverend Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin, rector of Bruton Parish Church and the generosity of Standard Oil heir John D. Rockefeller Jr., today Colonial Williamsburg is a large living museum of early American life. It has dozens of restored and recreated buildings and reenactors. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. The Visitor’s Center (right off the Colonial Parkway) features a short movie and is an excellent place to start (and leave automobiles, which are restricted from the restored area, where wheelchair-accessible shuttle bus service is provided).
Bassett Hall, an 18th-century farmhouse, is located in Williamsburg just southeast of the Historic Area, was the Williamsburg home for over 25 years of the family of John D. Rockefeller Jr and his family from the mid-1930s until 1960, following over 7 years of restoration and expansions. The Rockefeller family bequeathed Bassett Hall to Colonial Williamsburg in 1979. The home is now open to the public and appears much as it did in the 1930s and 1940s when the Rockefellers made it their home.
The third point of the Historic Triangle of Colonial Virginia is Yorktown where General Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington in 1781, ending the American Revolution. There are two large visitor centers, battlefield drives, and a waterfront area.
Notwithstanding the amazingly successful efforts to provide a non-commercial atmosphere at the three Historic Triangle areas (and on the Colonial Parkway between them), there are many hotels, motels, campgrounds, restaurants, shops and stores, gasoline stations, and amusements close by.
The Mariners’ Museum, founded in 1930 by Archer and Anna Huntington, is an institution dedicated to bringing maritime history to the world. It is currently home to the USS Monitor Center where 210 tons of artifacts recovered from the USS Monitor are held, including the gun turret. The museum also consists of a 550-acre park and Lake Maury, through which is the five-mile Noland Trail. The permanent collection at the museum totals about 32,000 objects, equally divided between works of art and three-dimensional objects. The Mariners’ Museum Library and Archive, now located in the Trible Library at Christopher Newport University, consists of over 78,000 books, 800,000 photographs, films and negatives, and over one million archival pieces, making it the largest maritime library in the Western hemisphere.
The Virginia War Museum covers American military history. The Museum’s collection includes, weapons, vehicles, artifacts, uniforms and posters from various periods of American history. Highlights of the Museum’s collection include a section of the Berlin Wall and the outer wall from Dachau Concentration Camp.
The Virginia Living Museum, first established in 1966, combines the elements of a native wildlife park, science museum, aquarium, botanical preserve, and planetarium. The exhibits are themed on the geographic regions of Virginia, from the Appalachian Mountains to the offshore waters of the Atlantic Ocean, and includes more than 245 different animal species.
The Peninsula Fine Arts Center in Newport News contains a rotating gallery of art exhibits. The Center also contains a Studio Art School of private and group instruction for all ages. It maintains a permanent “Hands On For Kids” gallery designed for children and families to interact in what the Center describes as “a fun, educational environment that encourages participation with art materials and concepts.”
The Hampton University museum was established in 1868 in the heart of the historic Hampton University campus. The Museum is the oldest African American museum in the United States and one of the oldest museums in the State of Virginia. It contains over 9,000 objects, including African American fine arts, traditional African, Native American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Island, and Asian art.
The Charles H. Taylor Arts Center is Hampton’s public access arts center. It offers a series of changing visual art exhibitions as well as a quarterly schedule of classes, workshops and educational programs.
The Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center in SE Newport News contains a community-based art gallery, as well as arts classrooms and the Ella Fitzgerald Theater.
The Casemate Museum (where former Confederate President Jefferson Davis was imprisoned) is at Fort Monroe in the historic Phoebus area at Old Point Comfort in Hampton.
NASA Langley Research Center is in Hampton, the original training ground for the Mercury Seven, Gemini, and Apollo Astronauts. Visitors are able to learn about the region’s aviation history at the Virginia Air and Space Center in Hampton.
Air Power Park is an outdoor on-site display of various aircraft and a space capsule. It is located on Mercury Boulevard at the intersection of LaSalle Blvd, near the AF Base.
The Biblical Art Gallery at Ivy Farms Baptist Church is Virginia’s largest collection of pre-1900s religious art.
The Chrysler Museum of Art, located in the Ghent district of Norfolk, is the region’s foremost art museum and is considered by the New York Times to be the finest in the state. Of particular note is the extensive glass collection and American neoclassical marble sculptures.
Nauticus, the National Maritime Center, opened on the downtown waterfront in 1994. It features hands-on exhibits, interactive theaters, aquaria, digital high-definition films and an extensive variety of educational programs. Since 2000, Nauticus has been home to the battleship USS Wisconsin, one of the last battleships to be built in the United States. It served briefly in World War II and later in the Korean and Gulf Wars. The General Douglas MacArthur Memorial, located in the 19th-century Norfolk court house and city hall in downtown, contains the tombs of the late General and his wife, a museum and a vast research library, personal belongings (including his famous corncob pipe) and a short film that chronicles the life of the famous General of the Army.
Also in downtown Norfolk and inside Nauticus is the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, an official U.S. Navy museum that focuses on the 220 plus year history of the Navy within the region.
The Children’s Museum of Virginia in Portsmouth has one of the largest collection of model electric trains and other toys.
The Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth is one of the oldest shipyards and has the first dry dock on display.
The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge (in Suffolk and Chesapeake) is accessed from U.S. Route 17 in Chesapeake.
The Suffolk-Nansemond Museum is in the restored Seaboard and Virginian Railway passenger train station in Suffolk.
The Isle of Wight Museum is in Smithfield.
The Contemporary Art Center of Virginia located in Virginia Beach features the significant art of our time.
The Hampton Roads region has a thriving music scene, with a heavy concentration thereof in the Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Norfolk areas. Many clubs, venues, and festivals exist within the region, all playing host to a wide variety of musical styles. There are a few hundred bands that play routinely in the region, spanning multiple genres. There are also twenty to thirty musical acts based in the region that perform throughout Hampton Roads and its surrounding areas on a “full-time” basis.
In addition, plenty of well known acts have come from the area. Some of the major rock/pop artists include Bruce Hornsby, Gary “U.S.” Bonds, Juice Newton, Mae, Seven Mary Three, Gene Vincent, Keller Williams, and Steve Earle. Ella Fitzgerald is the most recognizable jazz musician from the area. Robert Cray and Ruth Brown are both prominent blues and R&B artists. Tommy Newsom is another famous jazz musician. Many prominent rap and hip hop artists come from the area including Chad Hugo, Clipse, Magoo, Missy Elliott, Nicole Wray, Pharrell Williams, Quan, Teddy Riley, and Timbaland.
The region has a number of venues hosting live music and performances. Several of the larger (in order of maximum seating capacity) are:
Dozens of much smaller commercial establishments offer live music and other entertainment such as comedy shows and mystery dinner-theater throughout the region.
The Norfolk Botanical Garden, opened in 1939, is a 155-acre (0.6km2) botanical garden and arboretum located near the Norfolk International Airport. It is open year round.
The Virginia Zoological Park, opened in 1900, is a 65-acre (260,000m2) zoo with hundreds of animals on display, including the critically endangered Siberian Tiger and threatened White Rhino.
First Landing State Park and False Cape State Park are both located in coastal areas in Virginia Beach. Both offer camping facilities, cabins, and outdoor recreation activities in addition to nature and history tours. First Landing is the site of Cape Henry while False Cape is located at the southeastern end of Virginia Beach.
Newport News Park is located in the northern part of the city of Newport News. The city’s golf course also lies within the Park along with camping and outdoor activities. There are over 30 miles (48km) of trails in the Newport News Park complex. The park has a 5.3-mile (8.5-km) multi-use bike path. The park offers bicycle and helmet rental, and requires helmet use by children under 14. Newport News Park also offers an archery range, disc golf course, and an “aeromodel flying field” for remote-controlled aircraft, complete with a 400ft (120m) runway.
The region also has amusement parks which attract tourists and locals alike. Ocean Breeze Waterpark, Shipwreck Golf, and Motor World are Virginia Beach’s amusement parks, which were formerly called Ocean Breeze Fun Park. As separate parks, they provide miniature golf, go-karts, water slides, pools, climbing wall, paintball area, and kiddie rides.Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA are the major theme parks in Williamsburg.
normal seating capacity in parentheses
Hampton Roads has a number of public and private golf courses.
Three daily newspapers serve Hampton Roads: The Virginian-Pilot in the Southside, the The Daily Press on the Peninsula, and the six days a week Suffolk News-Herald that serves Suffolk and Franklin. Smaller publications include the Williamsburg-James City County area’s twice-weekly Virginia Gazette (the state’s oldest newspaper), the New Journal and Guide, and Inside Business, the area’s only business newspaper.
Newspapers serving the Hampton Roads area include:
Coastal Virginia Magazine is one of the region’s city and lifestyle magazine. The publication is published eight times a year and covers all of Hampton Roads and the Eastern Shore of Virginia.Coastal Virginia Magazine was formerly known as Hampton Roads Magazine.
Hampton Roads Times (web site) serves as an online magazine for the region.
Suffolk Living Magazine is another of the region’s city and lifestyle magazines. The publication is published four times a year and covers the City of Suffolk. Suffolk Publications also produces Virginia-Carolina Boomers, a regional guide for Boomers in the area, which comes out twice a year.
The Hampton Roads designated market area (DMA) is the 42nd largest in the U.S. with 712,790 homes (0.64% of the total U.S.). The major network television affiliates are WTKR-TV 3 (CBS), WAVY 10 (NBC), WVEC-TV 13 (ABC), WGNT 27 (CW), WTVZ 33 (MyNetworkTV), WVBT 43 (Fox), and WPXV 49 (ION Television). The Public Broadcasting Service station is WHRO-TV 15. WUND 2(UNC-TV/PBS member station), broadcasting out of Edenton, NC, serves as another PBS affiliate for the area. Area residents also can receive independent stations, such as WSKY broadcasting on channel 4 from the Outer Banks of North Carolina, WGBS-LD broadcasting on channel 11 from Hampton, and WTPC 21, a TBN affiliate out of Virginia Beach. Most Hampton Roads localities are served by Cox Cable which provides LNC 5, a local 24-hour cable news television network. Suffolk, Franklin, Isle of Wight, and Southampton are served by Charter Communications.Verizon FiOS service is currently available in parts of the region and continues to expand, offering a non-satellite alternative to Cox. DirecTV and Dish Network are also popular as an alternative to cable television.
Norfolk is served by a variety of radio stations on the FM and AM dials, with towers located around the Hampton Roads area. These cater to many different interests, including news, talk radio, and sports, as well as an eclectic mix of musical interests.
Norfolk serves as home to two professional franchises, the Norfolk Tides of the International League and the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League. The Tides play at Harbor Park, seating 12,067 and opened in 1993. The Admirals play at Norfolk Scope Arena, seating 8,725 or 13,800 festival seating, which opened in 1971.
The Peninsula Pilots play in the Coastal Plain League, a summer baseball league. The Pilots play in Hampton at War Memorial Stadium seating 5,125 and opened in 1948.
On the collegiate level, four Division I programstwo on the Southside and two on the Peninsulafield teams in many sports, including football, basketball, and baseball; three currently play football in the second-tier FCS, while ODU recently moved up to the FBS football. The Southside boasts the Old Dominion Monarchs and the Norfolk State Spartans, both in Norfolk, while the Peninsula features the William & Mary Tribe in Williamsburg and Hampton Pirates in Hampton. W&M is a member of the Colonial Athletic Association. Norfolk State and Hampton, both historically black institutions, compete in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. ODU joined Conference USA, an FBS football conference, as a full FBS member in 2015. The area also has two Division III programs, one in each subregionthe Virginia Wesleyan Marlins on the border of Virginia Beach and Norfolk, and the Christopher Newport University Captains in Newport News. The Captains sponsor fourteen sports and currently compete in the USA South Athletic Conference, but will move to the Capital Athletic Conference in July 2013.
The Hampton Coliseum, seating 10,761 to 13,800 festival seating, hosts the annual Virginia Duals wrestling events, and the annual Hampton Jazz Festival. The arena opened in 1970 and has previously hosted Hampton University basketball along with NBA and NHL preseason exhibition games.
Virginia Beach serves as home to two soccer teams, the Hampton Roads Piranhas, a men’s team in the USL Premier Development League, and a women’s team by the same name in the W-League. The Piranhas play at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex. The Virginia Beach Sportsplex, seating 11,541 and opened in 1999, contains the central training site for the U.S. women’s national field hockey team. The Sportsplex will be expanded to accommodate the Virginia Destroyers, an expansion franchise in the United Football League for the 2011 UFL season. The North American Sand Soccer Championships, a beach soccer tournament, is held annually on the beach in Virginia Beach.
Virginia Beach is also home to the East Coast Surfing Championships, an annual contest of more than 100 of the world’s top professional surfers and an estimated 400 amateur surfers. This is North America’s oldest surfing contest, and features combined cash prizes of $40,000.
Langley Speedway in Hampton, seating 6,500, hosts stock car races every weekend during Spring, Summer, and early Fall.
The Kingsmill Championship, an event on the LPGA Tour, is contested annually on Mother’s Day weekend at Kingsmill Resort near Williamsburg.
The Norfolk Nighthawks were a charter member of the Arena Football League’s minor league, af2. They ceased operations in 2003 after their fourth season. Also, the Virginia Beach Mariners of soccer’s USL First Division were active from 1994 until 2006.
Hampton Roads has hosted many professional wrestling events throughout the years. The Norfolk Scope has served as the site of these events, including Total Nonstop Action Wrestling’s Destination X, World Championship Wrestling’s Starrcade and World War 3, and WWF/WWE’s The Great American Bash and the 2011 Slammy Awards. Norfolk Scope was also the site of an infamous episode of WCW Monday Nitro, where several members of the World Wrestling Federation stable D-Generation X literally drove a tank to the entryway of the Scope, thus “invading” the competition. The Hampton Coliseum has also hosted many events, including RAW, in April 1998, August 2005, May 2007, January 2008, and July 2011, as well as SmackDown! and for ECW on Sci Fi on December 2006. In January 2008, WWE broadcast its first television show taped in high definition from Hampton, VA.
The Hampton Roads area is also home to at least one professional wrestling promotion, Vanguard Championship Wrestling, which holds events throughout the region, and has a weekly television show on the local Fox affiliate.
In 1997, Norfolk presented a proposal to bring an expansion hockey team to Hampton Roads. But that initiative failed. The team was going to be called the Hampton Roads Rhinos.
In 2002, Norfolk presented a proposal to bring the Charlotte Hornets basketball team to southeastern Virginia, but New Orleans won the bid for the team, renaming it the New Orleans Hornets.
In 2004, Norfolk presented a proposal to bring the Montreal Expos baseball team to the metro area, but Washington, D.C. won the bid for the team, renaming it the Washington Nationals.
In 1998, 2001, 2006, and 2010 Hampton Roads was hosting the AAU Junior Olympics.
In 2012, there were talks of the Sacramento Kings of the NBA moving to a proposed new arena in Virginia Beach near the Oceanfront.
Hampton Roads is 130 miles (210km) from the nearest major sports teams in Washington, D.C. and Raleigh, North Carolina. Another significant issue with the area as a sports market is internal transportation. The metropolitan area is split into two distinct parts by its eponymous harbor; as of 2012, the harbor has only three widely separated road crossings (the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel, and James River Bridge), each with two lanes of traffic in each direction. In addition, the area has two other major tunnels, plus several drawbridges on key highway corridors.
Hampton Roads previously hosted a successful franchise in the American Basketball Association, although it was never a full-time home for that team. Its highest-ranking teams as of 2012 are the Virginia Destroyers of the UFL, the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL, and the Norfolk Tides of the IL. Virginia is also the most populous state without a major team playing within its borders, though its northern reaches are served by the Washington clubstwo of which, the NHL’s Capitals and NFL’s Redskins, have their operational headquarters and practice facilities in Virginia. Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, through a separate company, owns two radio stations, WXTG and WXTG-FM, in the Norfolk market. The Hampton Roads television market is ranked 42nd in the U.S.
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