New sports-focused division seeks to drive economic impact to Milwaukee by bringing in more sports events of all kinds 

VISIT Milwaukee has announced today the official launch of Sports Milwaukee, a new division of the company marketing Milwaukee as the ideal destination for sports events, thereby driving more economic impact to the region.  

Sports Milwaukee’s vision is to be Milwaukee County’s premier sports organization for events and an advocate for health and wellness in the community. The new division is led by Director of Sports Development Marissa Werner, STS, a former Division I athlete, and a committee of area sports industry leaders.   

“Milwaukee has established itself as an amazing host destination for a wide variety of sports events and we believe there are ample opportunities to expand this market,” Werner says. In March and April alone this year, youth volleyball and basketball tournaments brought roughly 35,000 attendees to Milwaukee and a badly needed economic boost to the Wisconsin Center, along with the center's surrounding hotels, restaurants, and attractions.

Sports Milwaukee also has the support of planners who’ve hosted their sports events here.  

“USA Fencing has had the pleasure of holding successful events in Milwaukee over multiple years,” says Christine Simmons, senior director of Sports Operations for USA Fencing, whose 2019 North American Cup at the Wisconsin Center brought $2.4 million in economic impact to the community. “We have partnered with various community groups to provide an opportunity for Milwaukee residents to experience the sport of fencing and the success of our competitions is due to the valuable long-term partnership between VISIT Milwaukee and USA Fencing.” 

Upcoming events, like those listed below, illustrate the power of sports to the Greater Milwaukee area’s economy. Many of these events will also generate significant national and even international media coverage, which enhances Milwaukee’s profile among travelers and other sports event planners. 

  • The 2021 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits is expected to bring 12,000 room nights and roughly $70 million in estimated economic impact to the Milwaukee area. 
  • The 2021 and 2022 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships, which will take place in parks along Milwaukee’s lakefront, are expected to generate 5,000 room nights each year and an estimated $12 million in combined economic impact.
  • The 2022 US Speedskating’s US Olympic Long Track Team Trials, taking place at the Pettit National Ice Center, will bring 650 room nights and a $1 million estimated economic impact.
  • The 2022 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball first and second rounds, taking place at Fiserv Forum, will bring an estimated $6.4 million in economic impact.
  • In addition to these, Milwaukee will welcome the return of auto racing this year with events like the ARCA Midwest Tour at the Milwaukee Mile, NASCAR Cup Series at Road America, and the Superstar Racing Experience at Slinger Speedway.  

“As a home team supporter, I‘ve witnessed how sports attract fanatical support, promote community pride, and provides economic and social benefits,” says Katina Shaw, vice president of community relations for the Milwaukee Brewers and a member of the Sports Milwaukee committee. “It’s a great asset to have Sports Milwaukee available to help promote sporting events to draw visitors to our flourishing city."

Nationally, the impact of sports events cannot be understated. Combining data from Tourism Economics, Longwoods International, and U.S. government research, as well as valuable information culled from its members, Sports ETA, with the support of the Northstar Meetings Group, commissioned what is believed to be the most comprehensive research ever conducted about the sports tourism and sports-related travel industries. The end result: In 2019, sports-related travel accounted for more than $45 billion in direct spending, generating an estimated 69 million room nights across amateur sports and collegiate championship events.  

The city itself will continue to be a major draw, both on and off the court, Simmons says. “Our athletes, staff, parents, officials, and spectators enjoy the unique downtown restaurants, attractions, and the close proximity of the hotels and the competition venue.” 

Local sports fans will have another opportunity to get in on the action this summer with USA Triathlon’s Age Group National Championships (Aug. 7-8), which is seeking to fill 700 volunteer positions to have the most successful event possible. If you’re interested in volunteering, you can learn more and sign up here. 

To learn more about Sports Milwaukee, athletic event facilities, and other volunteer and sponsorship opportunities, visit the Sports Milwaukee website here

About VISIT Milwaukee  

VISIT Milwaukee is a community asset that markets the destination as a top choice for business, convention, and leisure travel to national and international visitors to increase the economic impact of tourism in the region. VISIT Milwaukee has over 700 members, including hotels/motels, restaurants, attractions, services, and area businesses. The Wisconsin Center District, which is undergoing a large-scale expansion slated for completion in 2024, and Potawatomi Hotel & Casino are strategic partners with VISIT Milwaukee, providing funding support for conventions and tourism programs. For more information call (800) 554-1448 or visit