After a 10-year absence, Conway and the University of Central Arkansas will again host the Arkansas High School Coaches Association's June All-Star games, which have been significantly expanded.
The Board of Directors of the Arkansas Activities Association, at its summer workshop Wednesday in North Little Rock, voted to award Conway the All-Star Week for the next five years. In addition, the annual Arkansas High School Coaches Association Clinic will be at various facilities at UCA, including the Brewer-Hegeman Center. When Conway last hosted the All-Stars 10 years ago, the clinic was held in North Little Rock.
Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas have hosted the games and clinic for the last 10 years. That contract expires this year when the games are held next week.
As part of the bid, the Conway Convention and Visitors Bureau has commited to a five-year sponsorship of $45,000 per year.
“Recruiting this event back to Conway was a team effort,” said Rachel Earls, Conway Area Chamber of Commerce director of destination marketing, said in a news release. “Conway has established itself as a premier location for youth sports. The All-Star games provide a great experience to high school athletes, and we are pleased that our team can take part in that experience.” UCA will serve as the host site for student housing, the coaches clinic, and the baseball, softball, volleyball, basketball and football games. Conway High School will host the soccer games. A number of city and community facilities will host practices throughout the week.
"It's an event that is now much larger than what it was when it left," said Jamie Gates, senior vice-president at the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce. "More sports, more participants. It's a big thing for us to be able to host again."
When Conway and UCA, the original hosts, last hosted the event in 2002, the All-Star Week consisted of girls and boys basketball games and a football game. Now, the week consists of baseball, softball, soccer, volleyball and dance and cheer events in addition to basketball and football. Various competitions will run Monday through Thursday on the third week in June.
A major aspect of Conway's bid was its central location with 110 of Arkansas' 239 school districts within 90 minutes.
UCA will host the softball, baseball, volleyball and basketball games. Soccer will be played at Conway High's Buzz Bolding Arena. In addition to UCA and Conway High facilities, Hendrix College, the Don Owen Sports Center and the Joe McGee Center will be used for practices. “Over the last decade, the All-Star activities have grown to include more sports and more athletes. We’re excited that Conway has also grown into a place that can host such a large and high-profile event,” said Conway mayor Tab Townsell.