Six years after the CrossFit Games arrived in Madison, Wis., they are headed south to Fort Worth, Texas, for 2024. Next year’s four-day event will be held Aug. 8-11 at Dickies Arena, named earlier this year by Billboard as one of the best venues in the world.
“Fort Worth is a proven destination for high-profile events, and we’re excited to add to the growing number of sports and entertainment options at the state-of-the-art Dickies Arena,” CrossFit CEO Don Faul said in a statement. “Love of sport is in the DNA of most Texans, and we can’t think of a more enthusiastic audience for the Games.”
According to CrossFit, the facility will provide new opportunities for fans with three standard levels of seating — including additional hospitality and elevated viewing experiences from the 4-year-old building’s suite and loge box level. (The Alliant Energy in Center, which hosted the CrossFit Games in Madison from 2017 to 2023, was built in 1954 but underwent renovation in 1996. According to local sports tourism officials, five years of hosting the Games generated more than $75 million in economic impact for Dane County; the event was not held in 2020, thanks to COVID; the 2023 Games alone brought in $12 million in economic impact.)
“The move to Fort Worth is the first step for where we want to take the CrossFit Games,” noted Dave Castro, general manager of CrossFit’s Sport and Education. “Just as we expect our athletes to adjust during competition, we’ll need to do the same as we rethink our execution so that we can bring the Games to not only more cities in the United States but also consider expansion overseas.”
Indeed, Castro hinted at major changes in August during a press conference at the Madison CrossFit Games when he said “[a]s great as it’s been, having a new look, a new venue, a new city is the right move for the future of the sport. For where we want to take this, for what we want to do, staying in the same location is not the right strategy,” according to Morning Chalk Up, which covers the CrossFit community and the CrossFit Games.
In 2021, Morning Chalk Up reported that both Denver and Austin, Texas, were vying to host the Games in 2023, along with Madison. Earlier this year, after it was announced the CrossFit Games would relocate to Birmingham, Alabama, for the 2023 through 2027 Games, CrossFit reversed course and decided to remain in Madison for two more years — meaning that a new destination would host in 2025. It is not clear why Madison and the CrossFit Games severed ties in advance of 2024, nor why the CrossFit Games decided against Birmingham. And it’s not yet clear whether the event will stay in Fort Worth for multiple years, as it did in Madison.
Approximately 320,000 participants from more than 180 countries participated in a virtual open in 2023, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. They were whittled down via quarterfinal and semifinal events, and the top qualifiers at the semis competed in the 2023 CrossFit Games to be crowned “Fittest on Earth.”
The paper also noted that “Dickies Arena has been a game-changer when it comes to attracting sporting events to the city. The venue hosted first and second rounds of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in 2022, and will once again host the NCAA women’s gymnastics championships in April. The arena will also host the 2024 U.S. Olympic Gymnastic Championship, which will determine the National Team lineups for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in preparation for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris.”
“As we’ve brought different national governing bodies to Fort Worth, and they get a chance to look inside Dickies Arena, they’re just blown away,” Fort Worth Sports Commissioner Jason Sands said. CrossFit officials reportedly toured the venue prior to the pandemic and “fell in love” with it and the city.
“We’d heard CrossFit put out an RFP for their 2024 Games,” Carlo Capua, Fort Worth’s chief of strategy and innovation, told regional business magazine Dallas Innovates. “Every time they came to visit Fort Worth, we felt that there was a connection. The more they thought, it exemplified some of the same characteristics as a CrossFit athlete: It’s the cowboy, right? It’s the cowboy and the CrossFitter. It’s grit. It’s perseverance. It’s hard work. It’s believing in yourself. It’s taking care of your fellow men and women. A lot of those characteristics and qualities fit both the cowboy and the CrossFitter. … And I think once people come to the city, the city sells itself.”
Capua (a “loyal CrossFitter” himself) also indicated that he thinks hosting the CrossFit Games will “increase our global footprint,” because the sport has millions of participants around the world.