Last month’s NOBULL CrossFit Games was the event’s swansong in Madison, Wisconsin — which had hosted the international competition since 2017 and brought about 50,000 competitors and spectators to the state’s capital city each year.
“The CrossFit Games gives us an opportunity to engage with our existing community and also expose new people to CrossFit,” officials said in an exclusive statement to Morning Chalk Up, which covers the CrossFit community and the CrossFit Games. “Over time, our goal is to bring the Games to more regions around the world. We’ve had an incredible run in Madison and we’re so grateful to the city and local community. We will announce the location of the 2024 CrossFit Games shortly after the conclusion of this season.”
Back in 2017, when Madison landed what was then called the Reebok CrossFit Games — previously held in Carson, Calif. — organizers were looking for “a new template for the Games,” then-event director Dave Castro told this writer for Isthmus, Madison’s alternative weekly newspaper.
Madison had been named “America’s Fittest City” by Fitbit the previous year; what better place to crown the “Fittest on Earth”? Madison beat out more than 100 other destinations vying for the three-year hosting contract. The city’s 164-acre, multiple-building Alliant Energy Center complex — with plenty of room for a vendor village, athlete area, beer garden, spectator workout space, live demos and music — “made it a no-brainer” for the Games, Castro said at the time.
Since then, the Games have generated more than $75 million in economic impact for Dane County, according to Jamie Patrick, vice president of the Madison Area Sports Commission. (The CrossFit Games were canceled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.)
“We’ve seen over 350,000 people experience Madison, many of them for the first time,” he told SpectrumNews1.com in August. “We certainly didn’t expect the CrossFit Games to be here forever,” Patrick said. “We were hoping that next year was going to be our last year, but the way it worked out, this is going to be the last year.”
“I’m really appreciative of Madison and what it’s represented for the last several years for the CrossFit Games. It was our first home outside of California, and it’s been a significant location for the development of the sport and the direction we wanted to take it. Tons of memories here,” Castro, who recently was named leader of the CrossFit Sport Team, said in a video message filmed in Madison before this year’s competition began. “Can’t wait to do things a little differently in the future. … but Madison’s been wonderful.”
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 it decided against Birmingham. Yesterday, CrossFit announced that instead its games would move to Fort Worth, Texas. Whether it stays there... well, who knows?
The annual CrossFit Games began in 1997 in Aromas, Calif., with 70 athletes representing 250 CrossFit gyms. Interest quickly spread, and the Games moved to the larger StubHub Center in Carson, California, in 2010. Today, according to CrossFit Games officials, the event attracts participants from more than 120 countries.
All participating athletes compete in the worldwide Open field, which winnows the number of competitors down to the fittest 40 men, 40 women, 40 teams, 180 age-group athletes and 30 adaptive athletes.