The site contracts for Detroit and Houston end in 2020 and I suspect that FIRST HQ is negotiating new offers and contracts at places unknown. I hope that my proposal isn’t too late in the process, but that it might get consideration.
Instead of paying for two separate venues with two different setup and tear down costs, and the added stress of moving and housing staff in two locations in consecutive weeks, FIRST should stage the two championships on consecutive weekends in the same city. The cost savings, including staff travel, likely would pay for any additional facility rental costs (and there might even be savings there.)
Previous analyses posted on CD show that while having two sites benefits a small number of local teams, in general the travel distance and costs for the vast majority of teams are indifferent to the two locations, or in fact a range of other cities in the middle of the U.S. FIRST could target these cities with similar overall travel distance as Detroit and Houston. The city chosen should not have a winter/spring sport use of its large stadium venue (i.e., MLB/NBA) then. It should also be large enough to have sufficient hotel space, so >500,000 population. A prime example is Indianapolis (which is also home to the NCAA offices).
Along with cost savings, FIRST also gains flexibility in how it assigns teams to each Champs. It would no longer need to be a fix geographic basis. FIRST could mix up states/provinces, e.g., Michigan and California at one and Texas/Ontario at the other. It could focus on balance by selecting different districts and groups of regionals. It could focus on what types of awards are emphasized, e.g., all of the Chairman’s at one, and EI at the other. Or it could open up to either random assignment, or some sort of (non monetary) bid basis.
Teams could now open up to more experiences with a wider range of teams. As it stands, California teams will never encounter Michigan teams except in an odd off-season event with two Champs and California still using Regionals. And that can be said about other pairings. We all have joyful stories about meeting and befriending teams from other places that we will now not see under the current format. Let’s try to fix that and save money too!
(PS, I have to credit Glenn Lee with this original idea.)