ACL operates more than 30,000 tournaments annually through its own national staff and a network of 350 ACL-certified managers. They also built a technical platform with automated bracketing, arranging and registration, as well as establishing equipment norms and standards.
“Without a strong governing body, you can just be a game, not a sport,” Moore says.
Headquartered in the emerging Knowledge Park area of Rock Hill, between Old Town and University of Winthrop, ACL is not just about running ACL’s business. Cornhole fans gather here to play on 13 indoor boards available for general use. Like bowling, players rent a lane and bags (or bring their bags) to play for as long as they like. Tournaments are held five nights a week. Players pay an entry fee, are paired up with partners to draw a blind, and then play as a team on the pot.
ACL HQ also features a full-service bar that sells snacks (guests can bring their own), music, state-of-the-art LED screens for watching sports, and a broadcast studio for broadcasting tournament events.
In August, the Asian Champions League (ACL) will host the seven-day World Championships at the adjacent Rock Hill Sports & Event Center. Competitors must “play in” through validated regional tournaments to win a place in the desired competition. About 2,000 players are expected to compete on 128 combinations of boards for prize money in excess of $250,000. The highlight will be when 256 ACL Pro players compete on ESPN for a shot at the World Championship starting at 1pm on August 7.
The Rock Hill Sports and Events Center was a major factor in establishing ACL for their Rock Hill headquarters. Housed in a former textile mill of more than 126,000 square feet, the $28 million center opened in late 2019 and has become a magnet for amateur sports, travel teams, tournaments and summer sports camps.
The facility contains eight basketball courts, which convert into 16 volleyball courts, and a 1,300-seat championship court that houses an additional basketball or volleyball court, with broadcast capabilities.
Beginning July 7, high school players from across the country will compete while showcasing their talents to NCAA college coaches and scouts, as well as fans, in the Adidas 3SSB Basketball Tournament.
Pick-up basketball and volleyball are available for a small fee, and the walking trail is available for free.
Rock Hill is also the home of the United States Championship Golf Course (USDGC). Disc golf is played by throwing a frisbee-like plastic disc toward a target, and is scored similarly to golf. It is one of the fastest growing sports in the country, with more than 6,500 golf courses in the United States.
The USDGC program is held for five days of golf events and programs, October 6-10. There will also be a Throw Pink women’s disc golf tournament, doubles competitions, and distance competitions, as well as a village tournament featuring food, retail, clinics and a spectator pitch.
With nearly $100,000 and more than 3,500 spectators expected, USDGC looks like a professional golf tournament.
“You’re out, it’s a beautiful place, you bring your family,” says Jonathan Ball, co-founder and event manager at USDGC. “Think of it as the equivalent of disc golf at The Masters in Augusta.”
Another popular Rock Hill sport is cycling, thanks to the Rock Hill Velodrome, which opened in 2012 and features the southeast’s only 250-meter outdoor concrete oval track with lined canyons and corners. It hosts rider development programs, certification courses, race events and open riding opportunities, although riders must be certified prior to riding on the track.
For road cyclists, the Rock Hill Standards Course is a 1.1-mile paved trail that is closed to vehicular traffic, allowing cyclists of all skill levels to ride safely, whether for recreation or competitive training.
And for the adrenaline junkies, the Rock Hill BMX Supercross Track opened in 2014 and has become a darling on the BMX Supercross circuit. It offers open bike training, new cyclist orientation, clinics, women-only open homes, summer camps, local races, and high-profile races including the USA BMX Carolina Nationals every March and the UCI BMX Racing World Championship, and a return to Rock Hill in 2024.
NFL football may not be coming to Rock Hill anytime soon, but there are plenty of other ways to get your sports fix in this city where healthy competition is a winner.
if you go
Rock Hill, South Carolina, is located 235 km northeast of Atlanta via I-85 north to SC Hwy. 5 east.
What do I do
Headquarters of the American Cornhole League. $20 per hour per stadium, $10 per person to play the tournament. Opens 4pm Monday through Friday, Saturday noon. Tournaments 7pm Monday through Friday. 300 Technology Center Way, Suite 205. 704-301-8982, www.iplaycornhole.com/hq.
Rock Hill Velodrome. $5 pass, $200 annual (certified riders only); There are no fees for spectators. 1000 Riverwalk Parkway. 803-326-2453, www.rockhillvelodrome.com.
Rock Hill Standards Course. free. Daily from dawn to dusk. 1307 Riverwalk Parkway. 803-326-2441, www.bikerockhill.com.
Rock Hill BMX Supercross Track. $5 for open clinic, $10 for clinics. Bicycle and helmet rentals are $5 each. 1307 Riverwalk Parkway. 803-326-2441, www.rockhillscbmx.com.
Adidas 3SSB Basketball Championship. 6-12 July. $20. Rock Hill Sports & Event Center, 326 Technology Center Way. 803-329-5675, www.rockhilleventcenter.com, www.3ssbcircuit.com.
World Championship 2022 AFC Champions League. August 1-7. Rock Hill Sports & Events Center. $10 – $50. iplaycornhole.com/event/21-22/national/world.
USA Golf Championship. Opening ceremonies October 5, Golf October 6-10. $20 and $60 VIP for four days. Winthrop Coliseum, 1162 Eden Terrace. 803-366-5028, www.usdgc.com.
where to stay
Cambria Rock Hill Hotel. Upscale chain hotel in Knowledge Park. $129 and up. 354 Technology Center Road. 803-324-0004, www.choicehotels.com/south-carolina/rock-hill/cambria-hotels/sc579.
East Maine Guesthouse. Charming bed and breakfast in the historic East Town district. $149 and up, including breakfast. 600 E. Main Street 803-366-1161, www.eastmainguesthouse.com.
where do you eat
Old Town Kitchen and Cocktails. A reimagined nostalgia menu in the heart of the Garden of Knowledge. $18 – $32 for entrees. 300 Technology Center Way, Suite 203. 803-980-6852, www.oldtownrockhill.com.
Flipside Restaurant. Comfort food is served in a relaxed neighborhood atmosphere. $18 – $28 for appetizers. 129 Caldwell Street 803-324-3547, www.theflipsiderestaurant.com.
enumerate. An eccentric kitchen with a historical background. $15 – $29 for entrees. 135 AH. Main Street 803-328-7333, www.kounterdining.com.
Rock Hill Visitor Center / York County. 130 AH. Main Street 803-329-5200. www.visityorkcounty.com.