Arizona FRC History - or - The Rise and Fall of Teams

I’ve always been interested in how FRC teams form and disband. With such a significant cost of entry and resources required to compete, creating a team requires a significant effort from a community and/or a school. Personally, I started LAUNCH TEAM 6352 because I felt the West Valley of Arizona was underserved and in need of the opportunities FIRST provided.

I wanted to learn about the history of FRC in my home state, and to see if there were any notable trends. I went through the data I could find from The Blue Alliance and the FIRST website to create this graph detailing the start and end year of every FRC team in the history of Arizona:

For the purposes of this report, a team is considered active in a year if they competed in an official FIRST event. Each color band represents a series of 1000 teams: Red represents 0-999, Orange the 1000’s, Yellow the 2000’s, Green the 3000’s, etc. This matches with the map of Arizona FRC teams that I and the students of LAUNCH TEAM maintain at

We can also see from this data the distribution of a team’s lifespan:

This data is going to be skewed to the left, however, because rookie teams have only had one chance to compete, first year veteran teams have only had two years, and so on.

The full spreadsheet and an analysis of team lifespan is available in this document:
AZFRC Team Analysis.pdf (395.3 KB)

I think you can draw some interesting conclusions from this. For example, we can see that 2017 had the most rookie teams started since 2008, but more than a third of them had disbanded in two years. We can also see that the 5000’s teams seem to be declining the most of any group, with only 3 of the original 10 teams still competing. Additionally, of first thousand teams, none of them have disbanded since 2011.

Overall, I think this is an interesting display of how teams rise and fall, especially since we’re wrapping up FIRST’s 30th anniversary and getting ready for INFINITE RECHARGE. Maybe people from other states and regions could make similar graphs to see if there are global trends (e.g. a major rookie grant is introduced or a company stops sponsoring teams)? I’d also like to learn more about team 39, which seems to have competed from 2006-2010 despite being a double digit team, and about teams 1150 and 1181, whose names I can’t find.

*Please note that this is just a casual project and not an official document representing AZFirst. It is possible errors are present in this data. I’m very sorry if I have misrepresented your team and will do my best to correct any mistakes.


I really like how you tracked team birth and death in your first plot, it does a really good job of visualizing what years saw the most growth and what teams have ceased to exist. Could it be colored by year each team began and sorted by team #? I think that could aid in visualising how much growth was seen, and in what ways, each year.

Does the lifespan graph include both existing teams, and those that have closed their doors? I’d be interested to see those separated to visualize what years teams are most likely to close, and which years have seen the best sustainability.

Overall, great read and great work!

That negative trend from 2017 to 2019 is sobering. Any idea what caused so many teams to fold in that period?

Also, I second the notion that these should be color coded by rookie year.

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I’ll link to an old post of mine on the history of 64 (and later 39) since I’m an old guy who remembers some of it:

Will be interested to read through your analysis later Stephen, looks well done.

Here’s an updated version color coded by the team’s rookie year. I’ll work on making an updated version of the bar chart later.


How did you set that graph up / what program did you make it in?

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I figured it out :slight_smile: - This is the data on Turkey

How did you go about pulling team history data from TBA and FIRST? Looking over the analysis teams that split may not be showing correctly, I noticed this for team 1013 which I was curious about since they are part of the 64 split I mentioned in my earlier post. The analysis shows them starting in 2003 but they would not have formed until 2006 when team 64 disbanded (the same year that 39 started). What’s interesting is TBA and the FIRST data set both reflect this inconsistency, you can see the rookie year listed as 2003 but no events listed prior to 2006:
(from having attended all of those early AZ regionals I can confirm 1013 did not exist until 2006)

Teams with gap years also show as competing when they did not. 2478 originally folded after 2 years and then restarted in 2014 under the same team number:

The graph is a really nice visual. A few notes from it:

  • Spike in 2003 when the first Regional in Arizona is held.
  • Not sure what caused the big rush of teams in 2008. If I recall that was a few years before the JCPenney influx of grants, which is probably responsible for the growth in 2012.
  • 2017 would have been the start of the AZFirst rookie grants, but it can’t explain all the growth as only 5 teams were awarded it. Unless that many teams formed hoping to get the grant and still managed to compete for a year or two.
  • Arizona expanded to two Regionals in 2015. Interestingly that did not seem to contribute to any sudden growth in teams formed. I wonder if the clustered population centers of the state limit the impact of adding events anywhere else. The second Regional has been in Flagstaff since 2016, and team 2486 has been the only team that can attend that event without a hotel stay.

AZ North actually brought back some capacity that was lost in moving the Arizona Regional {later AZ West} from Hamilton High (50 teams) to GCU (42ish teams after the first year when more of the basketball floor storage was moved into the back hallway increasing pit space)