Addressing Chaos During Morning Entry at Champs

For those that haven’t seen it, the “A-Z Guide To Championships” is here.

There’s some good information in here that is different than from past years.

Noticeably absent is any mention of an orderly process for teams queuing up to enter the venue in the morning. Frank mentioned in his blog that there would be changes for 2014. I am unable to find any

Problems include:

  • No indication of which doors will be opening, causing teams to spread across all possible entry doors and then make a mad rush for whichever small subset of doors end up opening.

  • No form of crowd control present early enough to matter (1.5+ hours before doors open). 1 or 2 rent a cops are present to yell at people for standing on the not colored portion of the sidewalk (seriously), but not to enforce any kind of orderly assembly.

  • No barriers to prevent people who show up 20 minutes before doors open from cutting in front of teams that have been there for 2 hours. This results in tempers flaring and lots of pushing and shoving

  • Some unwise person from FIRST who likes to come out with a megaphone and count down until the doors open, virtually assuring a stampede will occur

  • Numerous instances of pushing/shoving/trampling/minor injuries/hurt feelings between teams

Proposed Solutions:

  • Clearly label which doors will be opening, so that teams can assemble in front of them instead of running for the open doors once they figure out they’re in front of the wrong doors

  • Do what was done in 2011 (maybe 2012 too?) where team members wanting to go into the pits line up in front of the pits, instead of everyone lining up in front of the dome. This should relieve congestion at the main doors to the dome as well as eliminate the sprint from the dome doors down the hallway to the pit doors.

  • Get a few more event security staff to actually enforce an orderly queue outside the doors instead of doing nothing besides watching like hawks for anyone with a foot hanging over into the sidewalk area.

  • Form an actual queue with some crowd control barriers for the first 30 minutes of entry. This should be really easy. Hell, I’d be willing to help out with it and I’m sure the other teams that get there really early would be too. This would solve 90% of the problem.

  • Stop counting down “5-4-3-2-1” to entry…It should be obvious that this is a bad idea.

  • Investigate the possibility of letting teams into the dome concourse early so that they can form queues in front of their division, in the concourse. This reduces congestion and potential for stampedes by 75%, as well as gets teams as close as possible to the seats with no need to run. This may be difficult due to contractual issues of when people can enter the venue. Certainly there must be multiple points of entry to the actual dome from the street though. If there could be another opened on the other side that would reduce traffic by 50% and keep teams from running as much, as they would have to go half as far

Obviously this is the wrong place to compile suggestions. I plan on emailing FIRST with mine, because I think this is a serious problem. Anyone else who has witnessed the chaos during the first 15-20 minutes of entry who agrees should express their opinion as well, or nothing will be done.

I 100 % agree with everything you said.
I had a moment last week to speak one on one with a member of the FIRST staff and I mentioned this as one of the biggest safety concerns at Worlds. I assure you I will also be writing to them about it as well.

I did find this (page 11):
“FRC Divisional Team Viewing: In an attempt to improve match viewing for teams, we are piloting a new process at this year’s Championship. During matches, a designated viewing area will be available for the 6 teams in the current match. We ask that teams leave the viewing area promptly following their matches in a gracious manner, to allow the next set of teams to view. Please note: the viewing area will be monitored by event staff and

Which I thought was semi along the same lines. Maybe by limiting seating they are hoping to solve the rush in the morning?

To elaborate on my earlier comments, my proposed entry plan can be found here

Pit entry would occur at the Washington entrance, well away from the Dome. This would be allowed before doors open (1.5-2 hrs early, ideally) and team members would queue outside the pit entry doors in the blue oval. This separates a large portion of people away from the dome entries, substantially reducing issues off the bat.

Dome entry would ideally occur through Entry A, B, C, and D, but I can see how manpower would be a problem for that.

Alternatively Entry A can continue to be used, along with Entry C. Team ideally are also let into the second level of the dome 1.5-2 hours early to queue in the green ovals on the level 2 diagram in the concourse outside of their division.

If its not possible to let teams into the dome early, at the bare minimum if entry C is employed there should be 50% as many, or fewer, teams in line at entry point A as there were last year. Probably more like 1/3 as many, as I imagine roughly 1/3 want to go to the pits immediately. Combine this with some crowd barriers and effective crowd control and problems should be nearly eliminated.

If there are no signs, everyone must line up in front of one door and not go in till the door is opened. If its the wrong door so be it! When no one is in pits or competition field, the volunteers will realize and bring sign to the door!

Would Curie and Archimedes utilize Entry C and Newton/Galileo Entry A in this plan? Or is it different?

Great plan. As a member of a team who rarely goes to championship I was slightly shocked last year when I witnessed the “great smart people stampede” as a team member described it. I think if implemented this could set a great model for other events with a similar problem (Orlando cough cough).

Having an entrance for people going to the pits would benefit small teams like mine who generally met in the pit and don’t care about seats anyway as we are only in the stands for scouting and watching our matches. Due to the seemingly large number of teams who do the same, this could cut down on the number of people at the front by a large margin.

I’m totally with you Cory.

Entry into CMP is one of the most dangerous things that occurs at a FIRST event, anywhere.

We chastise and hunt people down for not wearing safety glasses first thing in the morning on the way into the pit areas at regionals- yet, we initialize a stampede every morning at the entrance to the Dome.

I see no reason many of the suggestions you have provided couldn’t be implemented.


I agree that measures need to be taken to ensure entry is smooth and safe for everyone… but at the same time, I think it’s a bit early to be calling out FIRST for not doing anything this year - we’re still a week out from the event! It’s entirely possible they have plans in place for additional measures to make things more orderly, and simply didn’t include them in the A-Z guide.

While the guide is great and contains a lot of good information, I don’t think it covers anything near 100% of the information you accumulate in just the first day of being at champs and figuring out how things work.

I can tell you one thing - half of all teams don’t read e-mails pertaining to the events their attending, and even less check websites for information about those events. I know we get hammered with questions from team leaders leading up to every regional, when the information they’re asking for was included in an e-mail blast and is on our local website.

This isn’t a team whining about a rule, or an inspection issue. He has reasonable and valid complaints about safety.

This is a big enough issue that a “wait and see” approach is not appropriate.

I can only hope they are just delaying the plan until they get it all firmed up. I hope the only solution isn’t the “special seating” because if they think that’s the magic bullet… well… good luck.

I really wish the doors across the volunteer lot were opened.

Perception counts for a lot. Asking what FIRST is doing this year to improve the situation or talking about possible solutions is great. It’s constructive. It helps the community and FIRST reach an acceptable plan to address the situation.

Starting the thread with “FIRST fails to address…” Is not constructive. It gives a negative image on something that, simply put, we don’t know yet. We don’t know what FIRST has done to improve things over last year. All we have is a single document that doesn’t list any more information that it did last year.

I’m not advocating a “wait and see” approach - discuss the possible solutions and contact FIRST to let them know of your concrns and what you would like to see done to address them. That’s not “wait and see”. However, before we start heaping blame on FIRST, we should actually know that they are deserving of blame. And at this point in time, we simply don’t know what FIRST has done to address the situation.

If this isn’t talked about before the event and plans are not in place for queueing to change, then we spend another year dealing with a dangerous situation that’s easy to solve when we could be fixing it. I think the risk of asking FIRST to do something it’s already doing is far less than the risk of not saying enough when something needs to be said.

I can tell you one thing - half of all teams don’t read e-mails pertaining to the events their attending, and even less check websites for information about those events. I know we get hammered with questions from team leaders leading up to every regional, when the information they’re asking for was included in an e-mail blast and is on our local website.

This proposal doesn’t necessarily require any advance knowledge at all. A leaflet could be distributed to teams Wednesday night, simple signage could help direct traffic Thursday morning… Nothing about this seems infeasible or requires teams to constantly check Chief Delphi.

That’s my point exactly! This thread is blaming FIRST for not doing anything (just look at the thread title…), specifically because nothing has been communicated yet. It’s blame before the fact, not after the event.

When is the appropriate time to post then?

The event is in a week. If he waited until Friday, or Monday, FIRSTs wouldn’t really have any time to respond to any request or prods for information.

Likely, never. Because if you do it before the event you are just complaining about things you don’t know. And if you do it after “they are just volunteers”. So, best form seems to just not criticize at all and just continue to thank your lucky stars you can continue to pay thousands of dollars to recreate black friday stampedes with smart kids.

I think this thread is warranted. FIRST has been REALLY good about telling us when things are changing. The fact that they haven’t told us this process has changed concerns me because it is an injury waiting to happen.

Cory, I really hope FIRST replies to your concerns soon.

Perhaps the title of the thread could have been better, but I think we can all cut Cory some slack… This is a big problem that he and many others have brought up with FIRST over the past few years. So far, just 1 week away from the event, no details of a solution have been communicated, so he’s taking the initiative to make sure it happens. I think he’s allowed to be a bit frustrated when it’s taken all these years and it still doesn’t seem close to happening… And he goes on to spend the vast majority of his post discussing the problem and possible solutions.

I have not been to St. Louis since 2011. Can someone fill me on the back story of the change last year?

I don’t recall much of a wait in 2011. Also I remember there was rain, looks like its been raining in St. Louis and may rain during load from the forecast. Were people sheltered in 2013? I remember running into the hallway next to the pits to get out of the rain but I am not sure when that happened in 2011.

2011 had way fewer teams than 2012 and 2013. Also, in 2011, there were two fields on the America’s Center floor and two in the dome, whereas all four fields are now in the dome.

I’m not blaming anyone. I just want to see a solution. I’ve changed the thread title…can we just focus on the problem now (as my post clearly did)?

For those who were not there, in 2012 and 2013 instead of having two separate entrances there was one entrance in the plaza in the front of the dome. This was for all four fields and the pits. There was no signage indicating which doors would open, so people spread across all the doors to be sure they would get into an open door and then as soon as doors opened, everyone collapsed on the 2-3 (out of 20) doors that were open and caused a stampede.

There was zero crowd control, causing teams showing up 30 min before doors open to be able to shove in with the teams that had been waiting 2+ hours. There was no line or any kind of security. Just one yellow jacket event security person who quickly realized they had zero effective authority when there were 1000+ amped up teenagers in a massive blob with no kind of queue formed.

There was a guy from FIRST who clearly thought he was being entertaining and showed up with a megaphone moments before the doors opened, counted down “5-4-3-2-1” and then opened the doors, further inciting the stampede.

Once you squeezed through the door you had to either get up a flight of stairs and onto the Dome concource, or up a set of escalators, at which point everyone flat out sprinted to their division to try and get the best seats. This lead to more pushing/shoving/trampling and reports of fights.

To get to the pits you had to go all the way down the main hallway, which meant another mad sprint about 200 yards or so.

2011 was much better because you could line up outside the pit doors, inside the main hallway, eliminating the sprint (for the most part…there were still the pit fields). This left way fewer people trying to go through Entry A