Parks and Recreation
Recreation is a big part of life in Union County, as evidenced by the large number of athletic associations, ball fields, parks, tournaments, golf courses and pick-up games.
If you love the links, you have found the right place. Union County’s gently rolling wooded hills and mild climate make it a twelve-month golfers’ paradise. With six semi-private golf clubs, three public courses and two private country clubs, you can easily fit into your niche. Courses designed by Jack Nicklaus and Donald Ross await you.
If you’re a spectator, not a player, Wingate University competes in football, soccer, basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, golf and tennis. And you only have to drive a short way to Charlotte for semi-professional and professional games.
All areas of the county have recreational facilities, most with playgrounds and ball fields.
In Monroe, the Parks and Recreation Department provides programs, fitness classes, sports leagues and summer day camps. The city operates the Monroe Golf Course and Country Club on U.S. 601 South. That facility features an 18-hole golf course, picnic area and nature trail.
Monroe also operates the Monroe Aquatics and Fitness Center on Hanover Drive. Featuring a 25-yard indoor pool, basketball and racquetball courts, running/walking track and fitness equipment, the center also has a water park, whirlpool, sauna, steam room, massage and on-site child care to pamper you. Yoga, aerobics, martial arts and swim classes are available, as well as a wellness program.
The City of Monroe has purchased the 30-acre Union County Fairgrounds property on the city’s western edge. Within two years, the property will be transformed into the Parks Williams Athletic Complex. Plans call for soccer and softball trails, walking trails, a community park and a children’s playground.
Downtown Monroe, Inc. sponsors a variety of events in the historic downtown, including Music on the Plaza luncheon concerts on Fridays in May and October, as well as collaborating with the Monroe Jaycees for a summer evening concert series Main Street Live from May to October.
The county’s largest recreation facility is Cane Creek Park, a family-oriented venue on 1,050 acres of land including a 350-acre trophy bass lake in southern Union County. This is one of three Trophy Bass Lakes in the State.
Water is the key to Cane Creek, including fishing, swimming and boating. The lake is home to some of the best largemouth bass fishing in the state as well as bluegill, crappie and catfish. A boat ramp allows you the opportunity to bring your own boat and pick your favorite fishing spot, or you may rent a canoe or rowboat when you arrive at the Park. Large covered picnic shelters with power, water, grill and picnic tables invites visitors enjoy just-caught fish or other savory items you may choose to bring with you. A concession stand is also available with a large listing of delicious items on their menu.
Park activities are not restricted to daytime. At the family camping area, you can relax at one of 108 family campsites overlooking the lake. The group camping area features 11 tent sites and six cabins to accommodate a maximum of six people each. Five horse campsites are available for horse enthusiasts who would like to bring their horse and camp overnight. Swimming, hiking, biking and horse trails also are available.
Union County is developing a second district park in the east, near Wingate. Jesse Helms Park, located on a 230-acre tract on Presson Road, spreads across gently rolling wooded land. Proposed development is long term and will begin within two years. Amenities include athletic fields, hiking trails, picnic areas and natural areas.
Union County is home to a large equestrian population and many private stables. In addition, the Charlotte Steeplechase holds its Queen’s Cup races the last Saturday in April, drawing crowds of 20,000.
The races are a combination of all-day tailgating and racing, which take equal prominence. The day’s festivities include Jack Russell Terrier races, hat contests, tailgate contests for the most elaborate, creative and whimsical tailgate spreads, as well as a raffle for various prizes.
The Monroe Channelcats baseball team belongs to the Southern Collegiate League that includes North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Players are on the major league scouts’ short list. The inaugural season begins in 2006, with play beginning in May. Games, held at Walter Bickett Stadium in Monroe, are free to the public.
If you’re looking for more, look up the road in Charlotte. The Carolina Panthers offer excitement for NFL fans. Don’t worry if you’re not a football fan, there are many more pro sports opportunities. Charlotte’s NBA basketball team, the Charlotte Hornets, plays at Time Warner Cable Arena in uptown Charlotte. The Charlotte Sting, a WNBA affiliate, holds the attention of basketball enthusiasts during the summer months.
The Charlotte Knights play in the AAA International League. They play at BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte. The Charlotte Checkers, who skate at Time Warner Cable Arena, are members of the East Coast Hockey League. Each spring and summer, the Charlotte Eagles and Lady Eagles keep the adrenalin of soccer fans pumping. In May and October, Charlotte Motor Speedway, off I-85 in Cabarrus County, comes alive with the best of NASCAR racing, including the Coca-Cola 600 and the UAW-GM Quality 500.
Want to Know More? For more information on Union County’s sports and recreation, check these web sites:
Cane Creek Park: www.waxhaw.com or www.co.union.nc.us
Monroe Aquatics & Fitness Center: www.monroeaquaticsandfitnesscenter.com
Siskey Family YMCA: www.ymcacharlotte.org/branches/siskey/sk.aspx
Wingate University: www.wingate.edu
Queenscup Steeplechase: www.queenscup.org
Carolina Panthers: www.panthers.com
Charlotte Hornets: www.nba.com/hornets
Charlotte Sting: www.wnba.com/sting
Charlotte Checkers: www.gocheckers.com
Charlotte Knights: www.milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t494.com
Charlotte Eagles: www.charlotteeagles.com
Charlotte Motor Speedway: www.charlottemotorspeedway.com
Nascar Hall of Fame: www.nascarhall.com/about