Three Reasons to Get Excited for the Granite Games
The Granite Games take place June 4-6 in Eagan, MN, pitting athletes against each other at Viking Lakes. The Semifinal event offers several reasons for the fans to get excited, a list that includes visiting an NFL facility and meeting a five-time CrossFit Games champion. However, the nighttime events under the lights serve as a big draw.
Remind me: The Granite Games spent multiple years at St. Cloud, MN, before making the move to the heart of the Twin Cities. The reason for the switch had nothing to do with issues at the original host site. Instead, Loud and Live Sports wanted to focus on giving athletes and fans easier access to a major airport, and the company used the opportunity to lock up a future at the Minnesota Vikings training facility.
- “There’s a huge legacy that’s been developed in St. Cloud,” said Dylan Malitsky, vice president of Loud and Live Sports. “I’ve been there many, many years. And it is a really great, great city. It’s a great venue.”
- “The fact that we’re able to bring it right in the heart of the city in a brand new venue, world-class, that still had some semblance of what St. Cloud brought. The football field, even though it’s not a college campus, it is an NFL campus they use throughout the year. We thought it was very fitting, and it was almost like graduating to the next stage — going from community college to now this professional venue.”
Friday Night Lights: Located on the 200-acre Viking Lakes complex is TCO Stadium. This 7,500-capacity football venue features artificial turf and serves as the site of several sporting and non-sporting events. This list includes three days of intense CrossFit competition that will send the top individuals and teams to the CrossFit Games. And it all kicks off under the lights on Friday.
- “You are going to see the heavy thrusters and run event, which is now 3.0,” Malitsky said. “That event and they always have some sort of a one-rep max or a complex, which we did bring back as well on Friday.”
- “I’m just visualizing the lights on at nighttime, pitch black. I think about football, high school football, and these guys and girls sprinting down and forth back on the field. It gets me — even as the organizer — excited, and I’m starting to get goosebumps thinking about how I think that’s gonna play out.”
The facility: The Granite Games will be fully outside this year and the programming seeks to make great use of the NFL facility.
- “The rest of the weekend really does a good job of making sure to leverage the assets that we have, primarily the football field, to the fullest extent and the ability to progress down the field and tell a great cohesive story,” Malitsky said. “The Granite Games did have the indoor and the outdoor. Just for this year, it’s going to be all outdoors on the football field, which I think has some fun to it as well.”
- “The thruster and run [event] was one we knew would play out well. And so it’s a little bit of like high school, Friday Night Lights. Then also going back to the thought of being in the StubHub Center in the tennis stadium on Friday or Saturday night. We want to create that electricity in the venue.”
- “We’re announcing the team workout where the first part is a heavy snatch and a heavy clean and jerk,” said Kristen Chandler, Loud and Live’s Media Director. “And then straight into two minutes rest right into what will visually be a really cool relay of pushing and pulling the sled down the length of the field. It’s broken up in different ways.”
Fan interactions: The action on the state-of-the-art football field will be a draw for fans of CrossFit, as will the opportunities for them to get involved. Loud and Live has multiple things planned for the weekend, including the limited return of Vendor Village, workouts with five-time CrossFit Games champion Mat Fraser, and other special moments.
- “We are planning a lot of on-field interactions and activation things to interact with the MCs and get people down on the floor doing stuff,” said Chandler. “If you have been to Regionals, there are some good chunks of time in between events, so we’re trying to keep everybody entertained.”
- “Fraser’s going to be doing some form of a spectator interactive workout on the mornings on the football field,” Malitsky added. “So that will be open to folks. I think it’s gonna be first dibs to HWPO members.”
- “Beyond that, how cool would it be even if you’re not competing? You can at least get a workout out on the Vikings training facility field with some of your favorite CrossFit athletes in the world.”
Whether or not the fans take part in workouts, they will still have the opportunity to rub elbows with some big names in CrossFit. For example, Dan Bailey also announced that he will be at Viking Lakes for the weekend. There will likely be many other big names on hand to watch the competition, providing fans several opportunities to get some selfies or take part in quick conversations.
- “It just it feels really special and like camp or something,” Chandler said. “But you get to see the same people over and over in the hotel at breakfast. You see the athletes, you see the same spectators. It just creates a whole really cool experience for the spectators and for the athletes themselves.”
Bottom line: The Granite Games offers several reasons for fans to be excited. The Semifinals event features standout athletes competing in grueling workouts with the goal of reaching the CrossFit Games. Apart from the show on the field, the weekend will highlight the best of Minnesota, as well as a state-of-the-art training facility. The opportunity to rub elbows with Fraser and Bailey among others just serves as a bonus.