Lucas Robinson | Wisconsin State Journal
The Dane County Board on Thursday unanimously approved a study to explore what it would take to build an indoor sports facility that could attract national tournaments and give local businesses a boost.
The $15,000 feasibility study will look at what businesses and infrastructure are in place to accommodate such a facility, or if something like a baseball complex or smaller, multi-use facility could be a better fit. Officials don’t yet have a list of possible sites for the facility.
“We’ve seen some similar types of development in other parts of the state,” said board Chair Patrick Miles. “With the strong economy here, I hope it could support something like this and have more events and with it more economic activity.”
With an interesting mix of sports in Dane County — from disk golf and tug of war to bowling and baseball — an indoor sports complex could host weeklong tournaments and put the dollars of athletes and their families into hotels, restaurants and retail, said Rob Gard, a spokesperson for Destination Madison.
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The Madison Area Sports Commission, which was founded by Destination Madison, will commission the study and put out requests for proposals later this month.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Dane County had hosted events such as boxing tournaments, speedskating, regional rugby tournaments and the North American unicycle championship. In 2019, sports attracted to Dane County by the area sports commission raked in about $27 million in spending, Gard said.
“They’ll generate thousands of dollars over the course of a weekend, sometimes more,” Gard said. “If you add that up and you bring fifty of those events a year, you start to add up a real economic impact.”
While Dane County already has pickleball courts and ice arenas, it lacks facilities like sports complexes found as close as Wisconsin Dells.
“The end goal is we know we need more facilities and better facilities to remain competitive in this state,” Gard said.
County Board staff could not immediately say if the county would operate the facility or if the study will look at who should run the facility.
Art of the Everyday: A recap of April in photos from Wisconsin State Journal photographers
Dancers perform during the 2022 Madison College Spring Pow Wow presented by the college’s Native American Student Association on the campus in Madison, Wis. Saturday, April 23, 2022. This year’s event recognized the 30th anniversary of the association and honored the heritage and cultures of the Ho Chunk, Menominee, Munsee, Ojibwe, Oneida and Potawatomi nations. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Mary Frantz, third from right, who turns 99 on Sunday, is serenaded with “Happy Birthday” by friends she walks with weekly — from left, Kathy Converse, Barbara Chatterton Frye, Mary Somers, Deesa Pence and Nancy Schraufnagel — at Vilas Park in Madison, Wis., Wednesday, April 27, 2022. The group, all members of the Prairie Unitarian Universalist Society who started walking during the pandemic as a way to be together, had homemade blueberry muffins and a gift for Frantz before hitting the trail. …….