Ideal Host Cities for a Nationals Event

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TheScientists
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Ideal Host Cities for a Nationals Event

Post by TheScientists »

I've spitballed ideas on Discord for ideal host cities for a Nationals-level tournament (HSNCT, NSC, NHBB, etc.).
While the events mentioned above all have set plans for future hosts, I feel we can find more places that could potentially be used by these organizations. The first iteration of this list will be a list of cities in Pacific or Mountain Time, Central and East Coast cities will be listed soon.
  • San Francisco
    - Nearby Airports include SFO (hub for Alaska and United), OAK (a focus city for Southwest and Allegiant), SJC
    - Part of the surging and very large NorCal QB circuit
    - Driving distance for SoCal-area teams
  • Los Angeles
    - Nearby Airports include LAX (hub for Alaska, American, Delta, and United), ONT, LGB (focus city for JetBlue), SNA (focus city for Southwest)
    - Part of a healthy SoCal QB circuit
    - Driving distance for NorCal, Arizona, and Vegas area teams
  • Seattle
    - Nearby Airports include SEA (hub for Alaska, Delta), PAE
    - Part of a growing Pacific Northwest Circuit
  • Las Vegas
    - Nearby Airports include LAS (focus city for Allegiant, Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, Sun Country)
    - Part of the LVQB circuit
    - Driving distance for SoCal and Arizona area teams
  • Phoenix
    - Nearby Airports include PHX (hub for American, focus for Southwest) and AZA (focus for Allegiant)
    - Part of the Arizona circuit
    - Driving distance for SoCal and Vegas are teams
  • Denver
    - Nearby Airports are DEN (hub for United, Frontier; focus for Southwest)
    - Part of a small Colorado circuit
  • Salt Lake City
    - Nearby Airports are SLC (hub for Delta)
    - Part of a small Utah circuit
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Re: Ideal Host Cities for a Nationals Event

Post by a named reaction »

hosting national tournaments on the west coast is a bad idea because then it will be substantially more expensive to get there for the majority of teams, which are not on the west coast.
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Re: Ideal Host Cities for a Nationals Event

Post by jonah »

Have you read NAQT's notes on nationals site selection? Not all of them apply to every conceivable national championship (e.g., NASAT doesn't need an HSNCT-sized site), but many of the sites you mention are extremely expensive, practically devoid of local staff and/or teams. And smaller events tend to be unappealing to hotels for other reasons (poor ratio of meeting-space usage to sleeping-room usage, little to no attendee spending on food and beverage).
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Re: Ideal Host Cities for a Nationals Event

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

Yeah, this is a very air infrastructure focused analysis and unfortunately there are significantly more factors to consider than just how easy it is to fly somewhere or even how many teams are nearby. I've only been tangentially involved in planning large, Nationals-size tournaments (mostly ACF Nationals) but a few notes I would add:

1. You'd likely be surprised how many people drive to a nationals tournament, even if the tournament is held in a major airline hub like Chicago or Atlanta. Some people prefer to drive, some can't afford to fly, and many simply don't live near a major airport even if the tournament is near a major airport.

2. Hotels can be really expensive, more expensive than flights. In some cities, hotels are just really expensive for whatever reason, and this doesn't always correlate in an obvious way with city size. People may refuse to attend your event if they find out they would have to pay $200/night for a decent hotel room near the tournament site.

3. Cars need to be parked somewhere. Cambridge, MA is in many ways an ideal place to host a large quizbowl tournament, but good luck finding a parking spot near Harvard or MIT (that thing about being able to park on the yard is a myth). When ACF Nationals was hosted in New York City I believe many teams parked in a different state (New Jersey) and took a train into Manhattan.

4. Somebody has to let you host your tournament. If you are one of the largest quizbowl organizations like NAQT or NHBB you can work with a hotel (and also you don't need this guide because you already have years of experience picking tournament sites). If you are anyone else, you are probably going to be relying on a school of some kind to let you host, and you need to factor in things like "which schools are willing to give me space" and also "how reliably can those schools guarantee room reservations". You don't want your tournament to be shut down by the campus police or the tournament to unexpectedly have to move to another building during a thunderstorm, both of which are things that actually happened to tournaments I attended, the latter at an NAQT national championship.
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Re: Ideal Host Cities for a Nationals Event

Post by AKKOLADE »

There were 23 teams at last year’s NASAT. Only one was a west coast team. There were 29 teams teams at the previous NASAT. Two were west coast teams, three if you count China. Specifically for NASAT, the west coast is not a feasible option at this point due to a lack of teams.
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Re: Ideal Host Cities for a Nationals Event

Post by cchiego »

The best thing that quizbowlers on the West Coast who want national tournaments out there can do is work to develop more quizbowl teams and staff on the West Coast. There are 50-60 million people between CA, OR, WA, NV, and AZ and, despite some recent successful outreach efforts, there is a ton of untapped potential in pretty much every region. A strong push to build the game up at a wider variety of schools and locales could get to the point where there are enough West Coast schools and staffers to make it worth a national's time (and $$). This can be done, but will require more organized outreach over a longer period of time.

Dwight Wynne and I once had the idea of some kind of West Coast Invitational that would act as a mini-nationals for the West Coast, but there simply weren't enough schools playing at the time to make it worthwhile. Maybe today there would be more teams interested, but it would take a decent amount of planning to make it work (which someone would have to take up the mantle to organize) and it might be tough to find an appropriate venue.

In the meantime, it might be nice if there was some kind of nationals discount for schools who inevitably have to fly regardless, but given the still-precarious shape of most quizbowl orgs' finances on nationals that's probably not going to happen either.
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Re: Ideal Host Cities for a Nationals Event

Post by alexdz »

Another consideration to be accounted for, although not impacting a large number of the options, is that some states restrict quizbowl activities in a way that national tournaments cannot be held in that state on certain dates, or at all. There was some mild disgruntlement among the powers-that-be in MIssouri when MSNCT overlapped with the dates of the state HS tournament, for example, even though MSNCT was held out of state. And because of sanctioning rules that apply certain Missouri policies to out-of-state teams playing quizbowl in the state, it is more difficult for a nationals to be held there thanks to the red tape.

The big picture here is, air travel is expensive, and QB orgs seem to be doing what they can to minimize it for the largest number of teams, keeping in mind the other factors that folks have mentioned in this thread.
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Re: Ideal Host Cities for a Nationals Event

Post by jonpin »

On top of the previous points, you also need to get staff to be present, and the more staff you can have drive or take ground transportation, that saves a lot compared to people flying in.

But in terms of getting teams to show up, to my memory the last major national held on the west coast was an ICT that had so many teams decline attendance, they had to essentially offer Division II amnesty to the last bunch of teams they invited.
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Re: Ideal Host Cities for a Nationals Event

Post by Steeve Ho You Fat »

Given quizbowl team's need for access and limited budgets, there's four regions that make sense: the Midwest, the Southeast, Texas, and the DC area.

In the Midwest, Chicago is clearly the best option, which is why it's so popular. Minneapolis has been done successfully and could be used again, but it's needlessly increasing the distance for teams from Ohio, Michigan, etc, who can get to Chicago much more easily. Detroit would be a good option - it's a major air hub, within driving distance of several pretty active states, and generally affordable, but its challenge is that its airport is kind of isolated and hard to get to without renting a car or a longish Uber. Cincinnati has the same advantages, and is more convenient to Southern teams, but has the same trouble with airport access. Indianapolis, Columbus, Cleveland, or Louisville are intriguing options, but they don't have as many direct flight options.

The cultural, economic, and transportation capital of the Southeast is Atlanta, so HSNCT has seemingly taken up a permanent residency here. Charlotte has similar advantages to Atlanta, and would be more driveable for the VA/MD teams - this seems an option worth pursuing. Nashville is also an affordable city with plenty of conference hotels and a major university; I think NASAT was here in ~2010 and another tournament could probably pull it off now. Miami and the other Florida cities are too isolated; Savannah, Raleigh-Durham, and the secondary cities in Tennessee probably don't have enough air access.

Personally, I enjoyed the HSNCT that was in Dallas a few years ago and I'm surprised no organization has tried that area again. There's enough teams in Texas that any of the four cities in the Texas triangle are reasonable options, although of course Dallas, Houston, and Austin will have the most flights, in that order. Austin has the advantage of being a big convention hotspot and having a close airport, but it may be tough to get a good hotel quote there since it's such a big wedding/bachelorette destination. Dallas has rail access from both airports to downtown; Houston doesn't. Unfortunately, most teams and staffers not located in Texas would have to fly to any of these.

Metro DC is a good option, and PACE and NHBB have successfully hosted several events in the Northern Virginia suburbs recently. DC itself is quite expensive, but Baltimore (not College Park) may be workable. This is convenient to all the Northeast and mid-Atlantic teams, and easily accessible via air.

In total, the cities that I've identified that seem like good candidates that aren't already in common use are in rough order Charlotte, Detroit, Nashville, Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, Austin, and Cincinnati.
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Re: Ideal Host Cities for a Nationals Event

Post by vathreya »

Milhouse wrote: Wed Feb 19, 2020 7:42 am hosting national tournaments on the west coast is a bad idea because then it will be substantially more expensive to get there for the majority of teams, which are not on the west coast.
In my opinion this is somewhat of a Catch-22, because the current situation regarding nationals makes it prohibitively expensive for a vast majority of West Coast/Western teams to attend nationals. Hosting a national tournament on the West Coast would, of course, make it more expensive for teams on the East Coast, but at the same time, would enable more West Coast teams to attend (somewhat compensating for the loss of various teams on the east coast). Chicago and Dallas are, of course, very neutral locations in this regard, but I find that hosting nationals in cities such as Atlanta is just about as fair to West Coast teams as hosting nationals in, say, the Bay Area would be to East Coast teams. Granted, there are a lot more east coast teams, but it should be nearly impossible not to ignore a circuit that hosts 100 team tournaments.

Given the humongous circuit in NorCal, as well as the growing circuits in the Pacific Northwest, SoCal, the Southwest, and in the Mountain West, I'd say that while a west coast/western nationals may not be a possibility now, they're definitely something to consider for the future.
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Re: Ideal Host Cities for a Nationals Event

Post by Carlos Be »

AKKOLADE wrote: Wed Feb 19, 2020 12:11 pm There were 23 teams at last year’s NASAT. Only one was a west coast team. There were 29 teams teams at the previous NASAT. Two were west coast teams, three if you count China. Specifically for NASAT, the west coast is not a feasible option at this point due to a lack of teams.
The primary reason west coast teams don't go is because the tournament is so far. In 2017 California had 4 teams signed up for NASAT but nearly all dropped, largely due to travel expenses.
vathreya wrote: Fri Feb 21, 2020 2:07 am hosting national tournaments on the west coast is a bad idea because then it will be substantially more expensive to get there for the majority of teams, which are not on the west coast.
The majority of teams are not on the west coast, so the majority of national tournaments should not be on the west coast. However, every national tournament happens in the east coast or the midwest, even though there are many teams that are not in those regions.
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