Atlanta - activities/ammenities I'd like to see

With the help of any ideas you have, those of us who live in and near Atlanta can prepare for the Championships by collecting and sharing knowledge and planning, whether it be something like organizing teams and planning out an Ultimate Frisbee tournament during lunch or after closing ceremonies one day in Centennial Park, measuring the distance and grade of the terrain between the GWCC and the field inside the Dome, or scouting out good restaurants for a stressful lunch or a celebratory dinner, we’ll be happy to help.
I encourage you to start a thread about any idea you have for activities so everyone can contribute their thoughts on it and I’l try to organize several more of the locals to help with this.
pauluffel
Student on #1127


As an adult mentor/chaperone, I was looking forward to going to Disney. I was not pleased with Houston, but that was my first Championship…

This is what I hope the Atlanta planners can achieve:
*A space at the competition venue where teams can gather during “downtime” - in between matches, for example, where you can lay in the sun, catch a frisbee or give “group hugs” to other teams as they walk by
*some kind of board/wall/sheet where teams can post their buttons or write messages, etc. expressing team spirit
*High quality and variety of food options with FIRST package (PLEASE have your vendors provide ingredient lists for all foods! We have food allergies on our team and I couldn’t get any answers at Houston!) both in the competition venue AND in the hotels
*Moderately-priced souvenirs - of FIRST or of Atlanta
*Moderately-priced “snack” food at the competition venue
*Be more handicap-friendly. Having to take someone in a wheelchair to another building just so she could get lunch wasn’t easy.
*Clean, attractive hotels that will actually welcome teenagers (our hotel in Houston hired a security person and was not exactly welcoming)
*A meeting room in each hotel where the students can hang out with other teams would be great - and allow us to bring in refreshments from outside.
*provide something for everyone to do each evening/organize team events/provide list of activities in the area

Anyone and any local teams who want to get in on the planning and execution of all the requests we are bound to get here, let us know. Let’s show FIRST our southern hospitality so they forget all about all their worries. :]

While Houston did an overwhelming poor job at impressing me, I sincerely hope that the time we have before our time in Atlanta will allow FIRST and the people at the Georgia World Congress Center to make our experience there worthwhile, exciting and special.

I’m talking pie-in-the-sky, ideal world stuff here, but given the chance, this is how I’d do things.

Overall

  • The entirety of both venues, the Georgia World Conference Center and the Georgia Dome, should be decorated to reflect FIRST’s presence and its unique approach to learning and inspiration. This means that vacant areas of either venue, closed areas, areas in use by other groups, or areas otherwise not appropriate for our use be sufficiently covered from view. Such areas might include unused upper-tier seating, the stadium floor, unused conference center space, closed concessions, universal lobbies, etc.

The point is that Epcot’s event village was made for us, special order style, and it really felt like we were wanted and meant to be there. Every tent had a purpose and every seat would be filled. Houston’s event felt overwhelmingly empty and unfulfilling. The myriad of empty seats in both the Astrodome and Reliant Park was depressing. The unfinished, unsightly concrete walls, pillars and floors further reminded me that we’d been shoe-horned to the venue without given any special consideration of our needs, goals or accomplishments.

On the whole, I’m not thrilled at all with being in a sports stadium. Epcot’s event village showed what we were capable of doing. It showed that FIRST was influential, effective and important enough to warrant the attention of a company such as Disney and that we earned the right to have our own venue. Competing and meeting in these structures that are built for sports stars is something that seems to go against the grain of what we’re trying to accomplish. While one may argue that FIRST has finally moved into the big time with that move, I think it’s just trying to fill the shoes of the people and events it still hopes to emulate. It’s not there yet.

  • The walk from the pit to the venue should be as short as possible, should be attractive, and should be arranged and situated in such a way as to attract the public’s attention.

For the sake of those people wheeling around huge carts, we all want to see that walk made a little shorter. While Houston did manage to replicate the tented walkway to the stages, once the participants moved back indoors, the magic was gone. Again, this stems from being in a space that’s far too big for us. I recall seeing unused equipment hidden behind cursory barriers, as well as regular ‘stadium work’ of loading and unloading inventory taking place as we walked by. In addition, volunteers and staff say were positioned all over the place at entrances and openings through which we weren’t allowed to pass. That is bad show and very unprofessional. At Disney, one never sees “backstage.” While FIRST events have two levels of backstage – that of the public and that of the teams – both should be adequately shielded from view.

If FIRST hopes to grow up and fill the big kids’ shoes, they need to attract the attention of the passerby. In Disney, we had the benefit of being surrounded by hundreds of thousands of folks who were on vacation. In metropolitan areas, there are far fewer people with no place to go, so we need make a greater effort at pulling them in.

For that, I’d like to suggest turning the walkway between the venues into a “red carpet” for teams. this would mean keeping it covered by a high-level tent to shield participants from the elements, but still provide a good view of the people. On the street side of the walkway, it would remain roped off, but open. On the opposite side, erect bleachers for people to sit, eat, and wave at and cheer for their favorite teams. Make it a place that people who’re touring downtown Atlanta can stop for a bit and relax and maybe see some neat robots in the process.

That’ll draw them inside to see the pits and the game. But, it has to start somewhere.

  • Create a three day long exposition in Centennial “FIRST” Park for the event that is complete with food vendors, educational exhibits (maybe past FIRST robots, other robots, the Delphi car, etc.) an open lawn, and a stage with bleacher seating. Bring in a small variety of carnival rides catering toward different age groups. These might include one spectacular ride such as Conklin Shows’ Doppel Looping (the largest traveling coaster in North America) or Cumberland Valley Shows’ Space Roller (the only traveling Top Scan in North America) or something equivalent. Beyond those rides that really grab someone’s attention, include smaller, more common rides to entertain both FIRST participants (free of charge with a package) and the public (for a nominal fee).

On the stage, book musical acts and comedy troupes for scheduled performances throughout the event. During the opening and closing ceremonies, use this stage and seating, along with video equipment, to broadcast the ceremonies outside.

All of this is geared toward making FIRST a presence in the city of Atlanta, not just another convention.

Daily Itineraries
Wednesday Evening

  • Early Check-In - upon arrival at their hotel, teams are given informational packets about the event, including pit maps, schedules, dining and entertainment recommendations, discounts, etc.
  • Welcome Dinner - each FIRST package hotel will hold a welcome dinner, attended by someone from FIRST, that will formally begin the event’s festivities and give teams a chance to learn who they’ll be staying with. These dinners should be accessible by teams booking outside a package by paying a small fee.

Thursday

  • Entertainment - in the park, entertainment, rides and food is available all day long.

Friday

  • Entertainment - see above.
  • CNN - CNN does a live on-air spot about FIRST during the qualifying matches. This occurs right before we break for lunch. During lunch, CNN does a round-table discussion with students, teachers, engineers and FIRST personnel. This can be done in-the-round, with CNN visitors allowed to ask questions about FIRST to the participants.
  • Party - at the end of the day, the event moves outside to the Park where a headlining performer gives a concert. This is followed by fireworks and access to the World of Coca-Cola, the nearby museum, and Underground Atlanta.

Saturday

  • Entertainment - Again, see above.
  • Party - After closing ceremonies, teams are bussed to Six Flags over Georgia in nearby Austell, Ga. There, the park is closed to the public, and FIRST students are given exclusive access to the park for a period of four (4) hours. Busses with leave from the Georgia World Congress Center but will return to the varied hotels in the FIRST package. At Six Flags over Georgia, all rides will remain open to FIRST participants. The park will make an effort maintain short queues by running their rides at the best possible capacity as well decorate the park to represent our presence. Disney event catering goes a long way toward turning Epcot into an exciting, special place. I expect nothing less – especially from people who are bidding
    to have me come to their city.

Again, this is pie-in-the-sky. I really enjoy putting on a show, and I really enjoy when people take the time and energy to put on a show for me.

Houston, in my opinion, did nothing of the sort. Walt Disney World, on the other hand, made a great effort at making FIRST feel welcome. I sure hope that Atlanta and its three year commitment are a lot closer to the service and excitement Disney provided than what Houston happened to have on hand.

Wow… those are some great ideas. It would be amazing if we could make all of those happen. I definitely agree, though, that the “welcome” feeling Disney provided was far greater than Houston. While I didn’t think Houston was bad, it just didn’t have that same feel Epcot did.

It’s too bad that Nationals are before the end of the Spring semester at Georgia Tech. Once all the students leave there’s a lot of dorm space available. Many groups use the dorms for Summer camp activities and such. They could definitely handle a bunch of high school students.

I would like to see packages also offered for ‘RVers’. Four years I have been involved in FIRST… and they continue to push the advantages of pushing their packages why not make them camper friendly too? They deffinately had opportunities at Disney and Houston to offer packages of nearby campgrounds and at Disney their own. I understand that the majority travels as a team; however, I bet many families would take advantage of this opportunity, and many campgrounds have on-site unit rentals that have much lower costs than a hotel.

*Originally posted by Vincent Chan *
**Anyone and any local teams who want to get in on the planning and execution of all the requests we are bound to get here, let us know. Let’s show FIRST our southern hospitality so they forget all about all their worries. :] **

Vincent…great minds think alike :slight_smile:

We at Tech have been working on this and many of the issues KathieK and others have brought up have already been taken into account.

I will be sending an email out to all the GA teams soon asking for help to create this resource for all visiting teams. We would like everyones input so we can create a repository of information for all the other teams with downtime activities etc. Not to steal your thunder or anything Vincent, but since we already have the ball rolling lets combine efforts to make this a huge success.

<edit>
M. I love your vision for the Championship. Hopefully some of these ideas can be incorporated.
</edit>

*Originally posted by skyman9000 *
**<edit>
M. I love your vision for the Championship. Hopefully some of these ideas can be incorporated.
</edit> **

Thank you.

Making memories is something I’ve aspired to do my entire life so I’ve given a lot of thought to stuff like that. It’s what I live for, practically.

Consider yourself lucky you didn’t get, like concept renderings :wink:

I’d love to see all of those things implemented, but I understand how difficult they may be. If I can ever be of help, though, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d love a shot at being involved.

i shall show this post to some one who can auctlly do sumthing with it when they get back in town…

You ppl must go to the varsity though…

I hate it when ppl demand that I must help them out like im sum 24/7 tech support via remote assistance I need to start chargeing ppl… bbl of to fix sum other werid omg I cant fix this plz help me plea from a friend… BBL

*Originally posted by skyman9000 *
Not to steal your thunder or anything Vincent, but since we already have the ball rolling lets combine efforts to make this a huge success.

It’s Pauluffel’s thunder; I just like to add some noise to go with it. I can’t take much credit for anything that I’ve done, because I owe it all to Paul. And I’d figured you guys would have started so as to avoid the things you college students really need to be doing. :smiley:

[quote]*Originally posted by M. Krass *
**While Houston did an overwhelming poor job at impressing me, I sincerely hope that the time we have before our time in Atlanta will allow FIRST and the people at the Georgia World Congress Center to make our experience there worthwhile, exciting and special.

I’m talking pie-in-the-sky, ideal world stuff here, but given the chance, this is how I’d do things.

Wow, excellent Ideas and event planning- I hope someone from the FIRST Companionship Planning Committee see these great suggestion.
:)**[/quote]

I really like the idea of the signing wall. After thinking on this idea further, I’d like to have several posters for special signing along with a couple of pieces of plywood painted white for anyone to add anything too.

#1 At each of the fields have one large poster that had the schedule of all the qualifying matches that would be played on that field, and just before each match, the human player/drivers/mentor would sign by their team name and match number to show who were the humans that represented each team for each match. This would make a great piece of FIRST memorobilia and at future Championships the past year’s qualifying schedules could be displayed along with the current years. When it was time for the elimination matches, a bracket-type poster could be put up near the entrance to the Dome so that teams could easily see the progress of other teams in the elimination matches and again, the human participants in each match would sign by their match and team name.

#2 Have a large map of the pits on one of the walls of the GWCC with each team’s number and full name in their space and have enough room for the team to attach one or two of their pins next to their number so their logo would also be displayed.

#3 Three or four sheets of 4x8’ plywood painted white that would be fair game for any sort of message or picture or chunk of a robot that fell off during a match.

Now off to spark some lightning so I can make some more thunder…

[edit] I really shouldn’t have wished for that thunder. Just after I posted I went to a robotics meeting where we almost have our robot moving again and lightning struck about 50 feet from the shed we were working in…[/edit]

Since Coca Cola has a museum there it’d be nice for some of their sponsorship… as in, free drinks.

Also, I agree with Maddie that a CNN crew should definitely do some national coverage.

Yeah… I went to Atlanta last summer and it was cool.

*Originally posted by monsieurcoffee *
**Since Coca Cola has a museum there it’d be nice for some of their sponsorship… as in, free drinks.

Also, I agree with Maddie that a CNN crew should definitely do some national coverage.

Yeah… I went to Atlanta last summer and it was cool. **

Unfortunately, the Georgia World Congress Center and the Georgiadome will have existing contracts for vendors. There’s probably very little FIRST can do about soft drinks and food because the GWCC and dome are obligated to use their contracted vendors.

I’ve looked a bit at the World of Coca Cola website and I’m not exceptionally impressed by what it has to offer. It looks like nothing more than a few exhibits, a food court, and a place to test Coca Cola’s international product line. Still, access to it, particularly for food during the day, is probably a good thing.

The idea of larger signage is a good one. I think the largest difficulty you’ll find in implementing that is that, often, the match lists aren’t finalized until the last minute – such that getting larger posters formatted and made may be impossible. If they showed up midday Friday, though, I doubt anyone participating would mind the absence, though visitors may not understand the reason for its late arrival. Again, it’s all about putting on a good show.

Signing walls could be cool, too. Maybe something a bit more dimensional than simple plywood? I’ll write more later.

I’ve been thinking more about some of the things I posted previously and I have some specific ideas about how to make the venue feel a bit more intimate. I’ll share those ideas again later when I’ve developed them further.

*Originally posted by M. Krass *
**Unfortunately, the Georgia World Congress Center and the Georgiadome will have existing contracts for vendors. There’s probably very little FIRST can do about soft drinks and food because the GWCC and dome are obligated to use their contracted vendors.
**

not necessarily true…

Hey if anyone would like to help me out, ill make out some large posters, i have access finally to multiple ploter printers and things and i have the FIRST Vector image so i can resize it. I will be working on some mock up designs and things and post them and things, if you all would like to, we can add different designs and things before its printed and it can be placed some wheres at the event for everyone to have access to, and then can organize a place later for it to be displayed at after the event…
~Mike

My contact infos on my profile and my email is [email protected]

*Originally posted by M. Krass *
**I’ve looked a bit at the World of Coca Cola website and I’m not exceptionally impressed by what it has to offer. It looks like nothing more than a few exhibits, a food court, and a place to test Coca Cola’s international product line. Still, access to it, particularly for food during the day, is probably a good thing.
**

Your impression of the World of Coke (I love that name… sounds like a 1950’s newsreel) seems to be pretty accurate. Its kinda neat, but at the same time its more or less an incredibly large advertisement for Coke that you pay for. The part at the end where you drink coke from around the world is by far the best part. Overall its something that’s kind of neat (and kinda cool that you can say you’ve been to see it) but nothing to get incredibly excited over.

~Tom~

Being the sports fan that I am i know that stadiums give tours. If anyone feels like touring the GA Dome, it would be nice to know if there are any forseen ramps or other obstructions that would make travel to the playing fields or pit more difficult then it has to be.

I’ve looked a bit at the World of Coca Cola website and I’m not exceptionally impressed by what it has to offer. It looks like nothing more than a few exhibits, a food court, and a place to test Coca Cola’s international product line. Still, access to it, particularly for food during the day, is probably a good thing.

Didn’t they have something exactly like that at Epcot??? It was a giant igloo and you got to test some differnt foreign drinks.

Hey if anyone would like to help me out, ill make out some large posters, i have access finally to multiple ploter printers and things and i have the FIRST Vector image so i can resize it. I will be working on some mock up designs and things and post them and things, if you all would like to, we can add different designs and things before its printed and it can be placed some wheres at the event for everyone to have access to, and then can organize a place later for it to be displayed at after the event…

Hmmmmm… If 564 goes to nationals I would probably bring some neon signs to nationals. Then again I must just start dressing up my teamates in this stuff depending on how cool it works. Heheh I come up with the wackiest of ideas. http://www.elamusainc.com/

*Originally posted by Adam Y. *
**Didn’t they have something exactly like that at Epcot??? It was a giant igloo and you got to test some differnt foreign drinks.
**

I was thinking the same thing adam… Thats where some of our team-mates and myself had a snowball fight while in Epcot. Man good times that was!
~Mike