2017 Smoky Mountains Regional

Team 48 is Looking Forward to competing at the Smoky Mountains Regional in Knoxville Week 4. This will be our first time back to the event since its inaugural year in 2011.

We haven’t been to Thompson-Boling Arena before. What should we expect?

I see that parking requires permits and fees during the week. Is parking a hassle or no big deal here?

We’ve yet to see a pit or venue layout - should we expect the traditional arena layout - pits on the same floor as the playing field, separated by a curtain?

What kind of practice facility, if any, can we expect?

How is concessions availability and pricing? It’s an arena - I expect some level of blar with food costs but was curious to know how much they like to gouge you. :slight_smile:

Thanks in advance for any information, and good luck to all competitors!

Hi Travis,

Thompson Boling Arena is a pretty great place to have a robotics tournament with a couple of caveats. First, parking is not pretty. Right in the middle of a land grant university campus while classes are ongoing is not a recipe for convenience. However, there are multiple food offerings around the campus that give much more choice than just arena food (although they have that, too). The arena is divided 1/3 playing field and 2/3 pit area, divided by a curtain, etc. Unfortunately, the field is set back a little far from the bleachers in terms of crown noise, but having said that, for scouters it is ideal. You can see the full field from almost everywhere in the building. It’s a bit like an ant farm, but you can see all 6 ants. It’s pretty great. We competed at Palmetto Regional week 1, and I noticed that the sightlines for this game are not so good. The boilers were at the the front of the field facing away from the stands and that cut the viewing area for most of the spectators. Even if the field configuration is the same (and I hope it is rotated), we should have pretty good sightlines for the competition. The pitch of the seating is nearly as steep as the upper deck of the Edward Jones Dome. Looking forward to seeing your team at the competition, and I hope to see Team 48 at the Team Social on Friday evening! It’s going to be a lot of fun (and right next door to the Arena).

Parking was certainly an issue last year. The lot teams were directed to park in filled quickly and there wasn’t much knowledge of the event on the part of the campus parking staff. I usually arrive pretty early for these things, and pulled in just as the designated garage filled. Some parking attendants were not accepting the vouchers from my students in the designated area. Look over the parking map for the outer lots and try to minimize the number of vehicles you bring to the arena if possible. I am hoping they’re better prepared for the added traffic volume this time. Last year was the first time at Thompson-Boling.

The venue is great for field visibility. About half the arena floor is dedicated to pit space, separated from the competition field with a curtain. Match broadcast in the pit area was great. It was easy to get around the venue. There wasn’t a correct pit map available prior to the event last year, so I’m not sure I’d expect one before Wednesday. I recall the last year’s practice field setup being pretty similar in size to what was at the Miami Valley Regional this year.

I’ll take this thread as an opportunity to promote that our students will be hosting a Business Meet-Up again this year in room 146 on Thursday from 3-5pm.

We’ll talk about how teams can improve on their fundraising, branding, social media, and more. For those of you interested and that attend our full-scale conference Business Summit, we will be opening up topic submissions this year for anyone interested in presenting this fall.

We’re excited to compete again in Knoxville this year, and to meet all the attending teams!

Team leads received new event details today via email, including a venue layout and pit map. I have attached these, valid as of 3/21.

There seems to be a pit map error, as I doubt 217 is attending. Counting the rest of the teams yields 48 teams, which is the current team count shown here:


2017 Smoky Mountains Regional Venue Layout.pdf (109 KB)
2017 Smoky Mountains Regional Pit Map.pdf (977 KB)

2017 Smoky Mountains Regional Venue Layout.pdf (109 KB)
2017 Smoky Mountains Regional Pit Map.pdf (977 KB)

For those not at Miami Valley, could you elaborate on this?

I’m very excited to see team 48 in Knoxville! This year is the first in a while that we’ve had double-digit teams attending. Thompson-Boling is a very different venue from the Convention Center it was in, with some advantages and disadvantages.

As mentioned, parking is terrible. It may be quicker and simpler to just bite the bullet and pay to park in one of the public lots depending on how many cars you have and when you get there. However, because it’s near a college campus in the middle of downtown, there are tons of food options nearby. The concession stands in the arena are pretty standard; they’re overpriced but not any worse than other arenas built to feed 21,678 people. Also, there is an extra area with a Domino’s and some other fast food that serves fast food with a moderate price hike. Depending on where your pit is, the jumbotron may be very convenient to glance up at and watch matches and scores on. But if you’re directly under it, it’s useless.
Since the arena is designed for much larger crowds, there is ample seating. However, that means that teams were spread out across a pretty big area, so that stands are very quiet compared to every other competition I’ve been to. While that is nice for the people trying to concentrate, it’s very difficult for excitement to build over, well, anything when everyone is pretty out. Also, I remember the lighting being very bright on the floor with the pits and the field, but the stands were actually quite dim.
As mentioned, the higher stands give scouts a much better view of the field than what they might be used to. However, as you can see from the floor plan, all of the seating is on three sides of the field. Since the field is asymmetrical, I don’t know if the Boiler side or the loading side of the field will be facing the audience.
As for the practice field, I’m honestly not sure. If I had to guess, I’d say they’ll have a single wooden Airship with at least one spot to climb on, and one wooden Boiler. They may just have a frame to climb on, instead of an actual Airship.

Carpet without a defined field perimeter with some wooden field elements but not complete. The practice area is very close to pit and easy to access. There’s probably room for 2 or 3 teams to work comfortably. Practice field is less than half the full field size.

Any webcast of this event? Thanks

SMR has never really been good at webcasting and I believe it’s usually been fairly poor quality if there is one. I’d love to see one if possible but wouldn’t count on it.

So regarding the food on campus, the university has lots of retail locations that will be open during the week (and maybe the weekend, but the hours are not updated as of me posting this). The university has a long list of hours for these places on their site: http://dining.utk.edu/hours/
They also have this kind of terrible interactive map of all the locations, so I called UT dining and they gave me this pretty high-quality map which is attached. Also right there in the arena on the ground level outside on the north face is a door to this small cafeteria with a McAlister’s and a Pizza Hut Express.

Office_UTdiningMAp2016[4922].pdf (817 KB)

Office_UTdiningMAp2016[4922].pdf (817 KB)

Do yourself a favor and don’t go to the McAlister’s and Pizza Hut though. Every team tries to cram in there and you’ll wait about an hour before you get through the line, and they’ll be out of what you wanted to order.

Team 48 will be doing the Smoky Mountains webcast this year - I believe it is the first time we’ve done this for this competition. I know one webcast link that will work is http://live.delphielite.com. We will also add a link to The Blue Alliance’s Smoky Mountains event page at Smoky Mountains Regional (2017) - The Blue Alliance.

The webcast link is also supposed to eventually appear on the TN FIRST website, http://tnfirst.org.

Thank you team 48! As a mentor who now lives an ocean away, this is very much appreciated!

Do you know if the livestream will be rewindable like youtube streams?

We use YouTube for streaming. I’ve been told we’ll be streaming in 1080p.

I believe the intent is that the matches will be parsed and uploaded as they are completed. We have done this before.

Videos should appear on https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPIXmDTjR680zGQSTY4L2aw/videos. I imagine they will (eventually) be linked to TBA, as well.

Just a warning to teams: Knoxville may be unusually packed this weekend. The Big Ears Festival is on this weekend and spread across different venues all over town. It won’t be crazy, but could cause problems finding places to eat and such. Luckily, most of it is on the other side of downtown. It starts tomorrow!

The Smoky Mountains Regional webcast video provided by Team 48 is up on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwUaxgE6dzvL5hvGBafBisUnCPjqSNet5. Most of the vids are also linked on The Blue Alliance. We know about the missing match videos from Friday and will manually parse through our master footage to get those up, hopefully early this week - stay tuned!

As for the event itself, I will wait and post my thoughts a bit later. Congratulations to all teams and individuals recognized at the event!

I’ll speak for Travis in saying congratulations to the finalist alliance of 4265, 3489, and 108. Also congrats to 337 for their 20th Industrial Safety Award. I know our safety team will be happy to finally get away from you guys at Seven Rivers ;). Thank you to our alliance partners 744 and 3140, as you guys made our second trip down to Knoxville as successful as our first trip there when we won in 2011. It was the first time that I can recall where the winning alliance had previously been an alliance in qualifications, match 69. Congratulations to 3824 on their first Chairman’s Award. From the video it certainly looks like you’ll have more coming your way. Lastly, thanks to the event volunteers who made this all possible.

Is there a site where participating teams are posting photos from the event? Would like to see some of those shots.

I would love to Thank Travis and team 48 for hosting the webcast. It made having to stay home bearable. I loved watching and screaming for all my friends. Congrats to everyone who won, to those who didn’t and to all the volunteers for running such a great event.