Wisconsin invented tailgating in 20-below weather at Green Bay Packer football games, the "Jump Around" tradition at University of Wisconsin-Madison Badger home games and Sausage Races at Milwaukee Brewers baseball games. With that kind of gusto for watching sports, it's no wonder that hosting amateur sports events would become all the rage around the state too. Wisconsin Dells has a leg up on the competition in that arena, parlaying its popularity as a family vacation spot to grow its fan base for tournaments.
Sports Facilities Have Popped Up All Over Town
A few years back, the JustAgame Fieldhouse was built as a place for area teams to get some extra court time and a new venue for tournament organizers to consider. Coaches liked the facility, especially the wood floor, and parents and kids loved the location in Wisconsin Dells. It didn't take long for the Fieldhouse to fill up its schedule with basketball, wrestling, gymnastics and volleyball tournaments. At last count, they've been averaging 70 tournaments a year.
Then in 2007 came the Woodside Wisconsin Dells Center, a 90,000 square foot sports facility under a bubble that's ideal for volleyball, gymnastics, indoor soccer and more. They're so serious about what they do that last year they even bought an entire field's worth of artificial turf from the Indianapolis Colts, making them the Midwest's first professional-level indoor sports stadium for indoor football, soccer, lacrosse, rugby and other turf-season sports. The bubble, with its column-free design, can accommodate four indoor soccer fields. Woodside Sports Complex is the largest all turf facility in the Midwest. It's Mauston location features 4 baseball and 4 softball fields, while the Wisconsin Dells location features 6 synthetic turf multi-purpose fields & 4 synthetic turf baseball & softball fields.
In the meantime, the Poppy Waterman Ice Arena started bringing in its share of hockey tournaments and figure skating competitions, both a big deal in northern climates.
Outdoors, a number of parks and the local high school fields support youth softball, baseball and soccer tournaments.
Jump Around, Then Jump In
"We understand that for many parents with school-age children, attending a sports tournament is their family vacation, so having the largest concentration of waterpark resorts in the world makes the whole experience a winner," said Romy Snyder, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau. "Our sports facilities are new and have been designed with today's young athletes in mind, so coaches and players are onboard when they learn a tournament is planned for the Dells."
The community, known as "The Waterpark Capital of the World!®", has more than 20 indoor and outdoor waterparks where players can take a break on the racing slides, massive tube rides and water roller coasters. There are indoor amusements parks too including the Kalahari Indoor Theme Park at Kalahari Resorts & Conventions -- a 110,000 square foot behemoth with a dizzying array of activities and rides including a six-story Ferris wheel, laser tag, a ropes course, go-karts, mini-golf, golf simulators, 24 lanes of bowling, DJ booth and dance floor, and arcade. A walkway connects the indoor theme park to the rest of the resort complex. At the Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort, there are two indoor, 3-D, black-light mini-golf courses. The first is called The Wild Abyss and features aquariums with live eels, jelly fish, sea horses and sharks. There's even a stingray touch tank. The second course is pirate-themed and is appropriately called Wild Buccaneer.
In all, tournament attendees can fill up their downtime by checking out 90+ attractions, 100+ restaurants, a handful of great golf courses and a slew of shops lining the downtown. The community has over 8,000 hotel rooms, more than any other spot in the state.