After 17 years of sled pushing, kettlebell jerking, mountain biking, and sandbag squatting in California and Wisconsin, the annual CrossFit Games are coming to North Texas.
The 2024 CrossFit Games will be held next August 8-11 at Fort Worth’s Dickies Arena—named by Billboard as the No. 2 top-grossing venue on earth for arenas of its size.
CrossFit’s annual world championship offers “the ultimate proving grounds” for the title of Fittest Man and Fittest Woman on Earth, and has featured athletes from over 120 countries. The event has been streamed online and featured in broadcasts on CBS, ESPN, and a wide range of international broadcasts. Next year, that global attention will zero in on North Texas.
“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.”
Hosting the CrossFit Games in a new venue and city will allow the event to continue to grow, said CrossFit General Manager of Sport and Education Dave Castro.
“The move to Fort Worth is the first step for where we want to take the CrossFit Games,” Castro said in a statement. “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.”
Every event is a surprise waiting to happen—for the athletes themselves
Unlike Olympic events and track-and-field championships—where athletes know exactly what they’ll be doing years in advance—the CrossFit Games keep athletes guessing.
Athletes from around the world are tested each year against a variety of unannounced events—each with different movements, equipment, and time domains. “Competitors must train for the unknown,” CrossFit says, and be prepared to perform across scores of events. They could include distance swims, obstacle courses, 1-rep-max lifts, handstand walking, sled pushes, rope climbs, odd-object carries, and more.
Fort Worth’s chief of strategy and innovation: ‘It’s the cowboy and the crossfitter’
Carlo Capua, chief of strategy and innovation for the city of Fort Worth, tells Dallas Innovates that his city practically sold itself when it worked to land the annual event.
“We’d heard CrossFit put out an RFP for their 2024 games,” Capua told us. “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. We rolled out the welcome wagon, but really, all credit goes to the Jason Sands and the Fort Worth Sports Commission, because they did an incredible job of getting them to come to the city. And I think once people come to the city, the city sells itself.”
Sands, executive director of the Fort Worth Sports Commission, said in a statement that snagging the CrossFit Games for the the city “has truly been a collaborative citywide effort,” and said his organization is “excited to work with the CrossFit Games team to provide an experience worthy of the world-class CrossFit athletes and fans.”
Economic impact could be in double-digit millions
Capua said the CrossFit Games’ most recent annual events in Madison, Wisconsin, created “about $12 million” in economic impact each year, and hosting next year in Fort Worth could deliver a host of other benefits, too.
“I think number one, it can increase our global footprint, because CrossFit has some 6 million people doing CrossFit all around the world,” he said. “So people both abroad and within the U.S. who’ve maybe never been to Fort Worth will get a chance to experience it through something they love.”
“It will help support our small businesses,” he added. “It’ll create jobs and it will continue to brand Fort Worth as a place where innovative, forward-thinking folks like to spend quality time staying fit, staying healthy.”
A “loyal CrossFitter” himself, Capua said the fitness brand has “become its own culture.”
“Whenever I travel to another city or another country, I always find a CrossFit gym that I can drop into. As soon as you walk in, you feel welcome and feel like you’re at home. And that’s exactly how we try to make people feel when they come to Fort Worth. They may have never been here before. They may not know anything about the culture, but when they arrive, they feel welcomed like they’re family.”
Fort Worth’s fast growth, DFW AIrport, and Dickies Arena helped seal the deal
So what sealed the deal to snag the CrossFit Games?
“We have so many world-class amenities here,” Capua said, ticking off a list he’s proud of. “It’s so easy to get here from anywhere in the world, thanks to our Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, which is the second busiest airport in the world now. And there’s so much momentum in being the fastest-growing large city in the country. It just makes sense to partner with what’s been one of the fastest-growing sports in the world for the better part of the last two decades.”
The venue itself spoke loudest, though, Capua said.
“As soon as the leadership of CrossFit walked into Dickies Arena, they were blown away. Dickies Arena sealed the deal,” he said. “You can be as welcoming and kind and hospitable as you want, but you still need the goods. If you don’t have a world-class venue for fans to experience and for athletes to perform in, you’re only halfway there. We had both. We have a world-class city with amazing hospitality and a world-class venue.”
Economic boost will have added x-factor of local affiliates
In addition to the economic impact the CrossFit Games have on host cities, CrossFit said it’s also committed “to supporting local affiliates, coaches, and community members leading up to the annual world championship.”
Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker welcomes the economic boost—and the visibility the games will attract to the Panther City.
“Fort Worth is proud to be the host city to welcome the CrossFit Games to Texas for the very first time,” Parker said in a statement. “We look forward to introducing CrossFit athletes to the unexpected art, culture, music, and food that makes Fort Worth so special, along with the world-class event experience at Dickies Arena.”
Athletes after the event will be in a ‘physical health tech’ zone
Capua sees synergies between Fort Worth landing the CrossFit Games and its growing physical health tech community, including HSC and the TechStars Physical Health Fort Worth Accelerator.
“I think it makes sense that you have such a physically demanding sports that now will make its home in a city with world-class physical health companies and resources. It’s hand in glove in many ways,” Capua said. “And I see there’s a lot of potential partnerships between our physical health, biotech, and Techstars communities with sports like CrossFit or soccer when we have the World Cup coming with FIFA.”
Dallas Innovates has shown why The Future of Sports Is in North Texas, and Capua wants Fort Worth to be an even bigger part of that. He envisions Dallas, Fort Worth, and Arlington being known as “three mighty cities that are the sports entertainment capital of the world”—with Frisco claiming its place as another marquee sports city in the region, boasting the Cowboys HQ at The Star, FC Dallas, and the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
Aiming to attract other fast-growing sports to Fort Worth
“You look at a city like Cincinnati. It has [a population of just over 300,000], and they have two professional sports teams,” Capua said. “I think Fort Worth is hungry to have multiple professional sports teams, even if they’re not the Big Three—baseball, football, basketball. We’re a fast-growing city. It makes sense that we have some of the fastest-growing sports that look at Fort Worth as a natural fit.”
Details for the entire 2024 CrossFit Games season—including registration info for the CrossFit Open, the season’s first stage—will be announced at a later date, the organization said.
Get on the list.
Dallas Innovates, every day.
Sign up to keep your eye on what’s new and next in Dallas-Fort Worth, every day.