Madison has most certainly earned its reputation as a sports destination: Big Ten college town. Growing pro team scene. High profile host history with repeat visits from world-class competitions. 

While it’s true that our passion for sports shines through from national TV and media mentions to athlete accolades, our capital city also wins on behind-the-scenes strengths. The ones that go beyond hotel rooms and how venues can flex to the unexpected specs that inspire organizers, athletes and fans to return again and again. 

Unexpected specs #1: The lake-city-lake landscape 

There’s nothing like that feeling when you reach your competitive best. In Madison, we aim to amplify those moments by ensuring they happen in amazing settings: on rolling hills. In sparkling lakes. Framed by majestic architecture. Amid scores of roaring fans. 

Having a downtown set between two lakes means we proudly provide visitors with natural beauty plus the perks of a city. Sports event attendees are always delighted to discover that Madison has hundreds of restaurants, shops and attractions within walking distance of the Capitol plus 25 downtown hotels. 

Who knew? Madison boasts more than 12,000 hotel rooms which means there’s plenty of room for family, friends and fans — we’ve hosted bigger events than you might think. 

Unexpected specs #2: The versatility of our facilities 

A 2023 facilities study determined that in addition to having the needed infrastructure, such as hotels and restaurants, Madison is in a strong position geographically to host large sporting events. As the Dane County community focuses on growing its facilities strategy, the Madison Area Sports Commission is already excelling when it comes to getting creative with existing venues

Sometimes that means reimagining facilities, like when the CrossFit Games came to town. Or forging new partnerships. Or figuring out how to host an event in less than four months, like the time the International Ice Hockey Federation’s U18 Women’s World Championship moved from Sweden to Madison. 

Who knew? There’s a new venue in town: the CXC Outdoor Community Center, featuring 13 kilometers of trails and a pump track that are a cross-country skier's and mountain biker's paradise. There’s no other facility like it where you can “get lost” in a wooded setting while being inside the heart of a city. 

Unexpected specs #3: Going green is part of the scene 

If you want to tap into the green scene when it comes to events, there’s no better place to do it than in Madison. Environmental pioneers like Aldo Leopold and Gaylord Nelson, the founder of Earth Day, once called Madison home and their legacy lives on in Madison’s green meetings and events.  

From the Platinum LEED-Certified Monona Terrace, which hosts IRONMAN Wisconsin every September to Lake Mendota, which hosted the 100th Anniversary ESCOW National Championships, to the 200+ miles of biking and hiking trails to the 270 parks that dot Dane County, there’s a stunning and sustainable setting for every event. 

Who knew? On Earth Day 2024, Destination Madison and the Madison Area Sports Commission launched a voluntourism portal aimed at helping event attendees leave the planet better than they found it while traveling. Check out all the drop-in, visitor-friendly volunteer opportunities!