Isaac wrote:No one's addressed my idea of reserving spots for local teams. I'd like to hear what people think of it.
Just reserving spots won't by itself induce local schools to decide to attend, as Reinstein pointed out above. If there aren't already academic teams of some kind at the local schools, you'll probably be dependent on some kindhearted teacher taking a personal risk to round up students and gamble that this new activity will be worth a valuable day off. Even if there is AcDec or some TV team, they may still not be able to get the cost covered, depending on the school and the district, since this is a new experience for them. Or they may just have always played in a bad quizbowl league and are skeptical of anything new, especially something that costs $$.
You have to let new teams (local or far away) like this play for free or a pittance if you want to shift the cost-benefit equation for those teams to get them into good quizbowl. The goal, of course, is to build up real teams that will keep coming back to your tournaments in the future and benefit quizbowl as a whole, but the idea of making the barriers to entry as low as possible financially hasn't taken off around much of quizbowl because few TDs (and question writers who usually won't waive mirror fees for new teams) seem to be willing to take a relatively small short-term hit in the hopes of growing the circuit long term.
Even if you get new local teams interested, you want to make sure they have a good time at the tournament so this doesn't just become a one-off thing. The last thing you want is a 24-team tournament with 22 teams in the Morlan Top 200 beating up on the 2 local teams that you generously reserved space for until they leave at lunch after being destroyed by 400 points each round. Make sure to focus on getting them to easier tournaments or bigger tournaments where they'll have lots of other less-experienced teams around .
It is often true that new teams (who are often "local" non-circuit teams) tend to wait too late to sign up for tournaments. This is why local teams ought to be the focus of long-term collaborations, not just occasional tournament invites. There are plenty of opportunities for partnering with those schools to help coach them, help them host (or have them help you host), etc. that teams should be exploring beyond having them come to tournaments (though that's a fine start).
Isaac wrote:public transit
I have only seen one high school team use public transit to get all the way to the tournament site in all my years of quizbowl and they had to wake up at some ungodly early hour to go maybe 10 miles using the San Diego bus system, arriving at the tournament site exhausted and stressed from multiple transfers at their first-ever pyramidal tournament (where they proceeded to lose every game). I would not recommend that experience to anyone else. Even in Philadelphia, the public transit system doesn't run early enough to many areas to get teams to tournaments in time and you still often have to coordinate a pick-up at a train station, which is again a logistical pain.