#travelforward spotlight: Sports

In 2022 alone, sports tournaments and events in the Fox Cities generated an estimated $9.8 million dollars in direct visitor spending

This massive economic impact to hotels, restaurants, retailers, and other businesses in the community would not be possible without the groups and individuals that partner with the Fox Cities CVB to host their events. From youth tournaments to world championships, the stories below are a testament to a few of the many that have done their part in helping the CVB move travel and our local economy forward.

World Axe & Knife Throwing Championships

December 1-4, 2022 (Fox Cities Exhibition Center)

The World Axe & Knife Throwing Leagues (WATL & WKTL respectively) began the search in 2021 for the next host city of their 5th annual World Championships. Following a thorough bid process that highlighted the Fox Cities Exhibition Center, the Hilton Appleton Paper Valley Hotel, Downtown Appleton, Appleton Axe, and Appleton International Airport, the Fox Cities were awarded hosting rights to the prestigious 2022 event.

Throughout the planning process, the Fox Cities CVB worked with the WATL and WKTL teams to create a customized event experience unlike anything done before. Passion and support for the event was evident all throughout the Fox Cities community with one example being three local breweries uniting to create a "championship lager" made specifically for the event.

The World Axe and Knife Throwing Championships led to an estimated 850 hotel room nights and roughly $500,000 of direct visitor spending. Hosting this event was a large-scale team effort and the economic benefit was spread all throughout the community. The Championships were also broadcast on the ESPN family of networks multiple times creating additional advertising and marketing value for the Fox Cities. 

Fox Cities leaders are already planning a proposal to bring this event back to Appleton and the CVB is looking forward to the growth and success WATL and WKTL are positioned to experience in the years to come. 

Matt Blair - Appleton Area Hockey Association (AAHA)

When the Community First Champion Center was just a blueprint, Matt Blair and AAHA leadership had already entered discussions on how to bring new tournaments to the Fox Cities. The Champion Center opened its doors in 2019 and by 2020, AAHA hosted two new tournaments at the facility in addition to their annual Girl's Tournament and Monsters on Ice.

AAHA continued to add events over the course of the next few years and hosted six hockey tournaments in the 2022-2023 season. The high quality of events hosted by Blair and his committee along with the draw of the Champion Center have led to most of the AAHA tournaments being sold out.

AAHA tournaments in the 2022-2023 season will bring an estimated 1,500 hotel room nights and over $500,000 in direct visitor spending to businesses in the Fox Cities. Matt Blair and the AAHA board continue to be great partners in helping grow tournaments and the sport of hockey in the community.

Chris Fitzgerald - Prep Dig

The Community First Champion Center is recognized as one of the best volleyball venues in the country, providing a perfect location for Chris Fitzgerald to expand the lineup of Prep Dig tournaments. Creating a partnership with the Fox Cities CVB and Champion Center staff, Fitzgerald has been creating new club volleyball tournaments in the Fox Cities since 2019.

Fitzgerald started with two tournaments in 2020 and has now grown the lineup to six in 2022. Teams from across the state and the Midwest participate in these tournaments and Prep Dig events in 2022 brought in an estimated 1,440 hotel room nights and over $500,000 in direct visitor spending.

Proving to be a true advocate of the Fox Cities and the Champion Center, Fitzgerald has extended his reach beyond volleyball, helping to bring an additional seven Prep Network basketball tournaments annually to the Champion Center.

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