Though the same catfish logo still peeks out from a red "C," its barbels draping over the side, the Carolina Mudcats are part of a new era of minor-league baseball in North Carolina. Two years after the original franchise left for Pensacola, Florida, in 2010, a new team arrived in Zebulon to don the signature red jerseys. As the new Mudcats spawned, so too did new affiliations—the team is now the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the MLB's Cleveland Indians, and mascot Muddy the Mudcat now trolls the stands of Five County Stadium, where a 300-square-foot videoboard broadcasts instant replays of the outfielders' most breathtaking stretches.
Running off the infectious sonic fumes from his I Am Not a Human Being album and upcoming full-length Tha Carter IV, Lil Wayne lands his spaceship for a speaker-blowing stop on the extended leg of his summer tour. The Grammy winner touts an impressive curriculum vitae, punctuated by CEO status, unabashed genre-crossing, and standout lyrics woven together with sagacious metaphors. Although Tunechi fans can anticipate a high-octane performance rife with hit singles as well as mixtape favorites, the tour's white-hot opening acts acclimate concertgoers with equal parts R & B silk, rap grit, and synth-powered spunk. Frequent Lil Wayne collaborator and Miami boss Rick Ross partners with breakout diva Keri Hilson, club-bangers Far East Movement, and velvet-voiced Lloyd for a hard-hitting evening that rivals at-home puppet shows outfitted with homemade pyrotechnics.
Boy-band juggernaut and Nickelodeon sensation Big Time Rush shines like the sun’s sons as its hotly anticipated Big Time Summer Tour enraptures flocks of fans with pop bliss. The fab foursome, known as BTR to fans and preteen stenographers, first snatched the hearts of millions with its eponymous TV show, which is the most-watched live-action series in Nickelodeon’s history. On the group's choreographed carnival of a tour, expert hoofer and crooner Kendall Schmidt leads the affable cast of personalities, which includes James (the ladies' man), Carlos (the joker), and Logan (the smarty warty), through hits from its gold debut, BTR. Chart-topping sophomore album, Elevate, also sees its anthemic tunes represented, such as “Music Sounds Better With U” and “All Over Again.” Expect elastic dance moves from the dapper quadratic and possible numbers from the just-released Big Time Movie, in which BTR covers tunes by obscure boy band The Beatles. Australian wunderkind Cody Simpson starts the show with peppy rallies and aural morality plays about how love can be tough and why stealing your dad’s head to sneak into R-rated movies isn’t cool.
Beloved boy bands New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys rev the engines of adoration among droves of fans with their poptastic summer tour. New Kids on the Block has been plucking heartstrings and handcrafting harmonies since 1986, combining a collection of international hits such as "Hangin' Tough" and "Step by Step" with five-part choreography and fashionable duds. Following in their footsteps, the Backstreet Boys began blowing up charts in the '90s, producing a songbook replete with favorites such as "I Want It That Way," "All I Have to Give," and "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)." The NKOTBSB Tour brings both acts together for a songful extravaganza, forming the more perfect union prophesied nearly 50 years ago by the Constitution. The May 25 concert also includes the vocal virtuosity of special guest and American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, adding to an ear-pleasing stew of dulcet melodies sure to soothe the most savage beast or most irascible mail carrier.
South Main Speedway lets customers mix and match rounds of mini golf and go-kart racing to fashion a full day of family-friendly recreation. Clamber into a one- or two-seater speed machine to race friends, loved ones, and renegade Mario Kart characters for 15 ferocious laps around the Speedway’s sinuous track (a $6 value/race). Then, head to the outdoor putt-putt course (a $6 value/game) to send dimpled balls skittering past squat shrubs, plashing waterfalls, and nostalgic windmill operators into 18 waiting holes. The Groupon's eight games or races can be parceled out to multiple people on a single day, facilitating bonding within families or semipro hide-and-seek teams. Afterward, venture outside to browse The Factory's complex of shops, restaurants, and sports facilities.
A forest of punching bags dangles from the rafters at Sweat Functional Fitness Training, where athletes throw jabs and hooks as instructors motivate them to push to their limits during each workout. Modeled after boxing training, the workouts supplement floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee with strength training and kettlebell drills to light the path toward slimmer and stronger physiques. Patrons of all ages and fitness levels are welcome, and the goal of the fast-paced workouts is not to train championship fighters, but to inspire fit-seekers to whip into peak physical condition.
Like the plot of Rocky, Sweat Functional Fitness Training revolves around boxing, but has something for everybody. The trainers also lead fitness classes in TRX suspension training and kettlebell training, in addition to high-intensity indoor and outdoor boot camps.