Information on Hosting Needed

We have had requests for information on hosting an offseason/invitational event. Since we do not actually do one ourselves we were hoping someone out there could help us with this. Basically we need information on planning and running an offseason event or invitational. If you have any documentation on such a thing please let us know. Thank you.

I wish I had written a whitepaper on organizing an off-season event so it would be helpful to you. I organize the Mayhem (last year it was Mayhem @ the Museum, and this year it was Mission Mayhem) in South Florida. I do have few suggestions for you.

       -	Organize a **planning committee**, who meet often, we had 7 people in the committee. (Also divide up the work between the committee members).

       -	Make sure you got a **sponsor/sponsors** (try to hit up a college, because it is helpful to them from a marketing point of view) who is willing to provide you with shipping cost of the field. (Have a group of people work with the money and figure out how to spend it and keep all the teams happy.) 

       -	Venue is something you also you want to look at before you **contact FIRST**. My suggestion would be not to choose a venue that’s outside and under a tent (Trust me, I have experience with this, Mayhem will be inside from now on).

       -	Get in touch with FIRST and ask them if there is a field available for the dates you are looking at for your event.

       -	One very important aspect of an off-season is getting **volunteers** for the event. You will need around 50 volunteers (this past year at Mission Mayhem we had 40 dedicated volunteers who were very dedicated).

       -	FIRST **doesn’t provide a carpet** with the playing field, you will need a carpet.

       -	**Food** at the venue is also very important on the list.

       -	Plan out a **floor plan ** beforehand.

       -	Start **contacting teams ** at least 3 months before the event.

       -	Also think about how can this event **inspire the public**, if you are letting public walk in and just watch.

       -	Lastly, you want to make sure you got a **Mike Walker and Billfred ** at your event so the field runs very smoothly throughout the day. 

I am very new to this and this was only my second year organizing a FIRST event. I have got my gurus like **John Burke ** (who organizes the Mayhem with me), also **Chris Fultz, Andy Baker, and Libby Ritchie ** (they organize IRI every year which is known as the best off-season event); you might want to get in touch with them so they can give you more advice. If you need any more information, feel free to contact me. I will help you out anyways possible. Good luck.

Hi Kymber,

I can’t stress enough how important it is the point Arefin made about a planning committee. An off season event takes an incredible amount of work, and without a small group of folks sitting together talking about everything, you will go nuts very quickly.

I would say the most important part of beginning an off season’s planning process is:

Location, Date, playing field, and teams.

Lacking one and you won’t be able to have your event. It took us a month to select a venue and date for Cal Games, and we are still in the process of completing out playing field and recruiting teams. You can have your event in a High School gym, a community college, or a university. You will have to avoid important dates such as holidays and SAT test dates. You can also contact FIRST about using their field and the cost of shipping it to and from the venue, and you have to find enough interested teams to participate in your event.

Then come your kickoff meeting, where you are officially announcing the venue and the date, and gather support for your event.

For Cal Games, our kickoff event was held on June 28th. We just had our 4th planning meeting, the volunteer recruitment meeting. Our 2nd planning meeting was used deciding what kind of event we want, while our 3rd meeting was for working out logistic and **registration ** issue.

In the coming two months, we will be visiting Pioneer High School to complete our floor plans, showing exactly where we are going to lay down floor protection, carpets, where we are putting the playing field, **side event ** and **displays ** at, and how the **pit area ** is going to look like. All at the same time we have to determine if there’s enough **power ** in the pit area for the teams to use their tools, where the extension cords and power outlets are in the main gym for the field and scoring table, and what kind of A/V setup we want to have.

All at the same time, there will be meetings with teams and volunteers to go over the setup plan and jobs that need to be done during the event. The volunteers will have to be trained for their jobs, and provided enough information to show up at the right time and the right place.

It’s a complicated job planning an off season event. Chances are you won’t get a lot of these things right the first time. It’s the 6th years for Cal Games, and we are still learning new lessons as we dive into the planning process.

I don’t want to flood you with too much information here, so, why don’t you PM me your e-mail, and I can send you some files from the Cal Games planning handbook.

In the mean time, keep asking those questions on Chief Delphi and talk to as many people as you can. You are going to need a lot of help.

-Ken L
06’ Cal Games Manager

I really don’t think myself worthy of the boldface; while Mike’s fingers controlled the match (and fumbled fewer times in the day than the average FRC event this season), all I did was write things down.

That said, don’t be afraid to meddle with the game a bit to fit your needs and desires. Those crazy Floridians (plus one) created Aim, well, Kinda High out of necessity–had we attempted play with the standard field the next day, Mission Mayhem would’ve been a total washout. BattleCry@WPI historically does their twist to improve the game as well, although I’m sure that theirs are a little more well-planned than ours were. Just make sure that you keep the potential teams in mind; if we had a dedicated ramp-camper in the field at Mission Mayhem, they would’ve been horribly ineffective at AwKH.

One thing that you’ll want to keep in the back of your head is dealing with no-show teams. If you’re using the standard software (and it doesn’t crash, as it did with us), you could create the match lists after everyone checks in, but that’s going to require a copier nearby that you’ve got the code for. Mission Mayhem manually created the listings for the 2v2 rounds in Excel, which precluded any real ability to change it once 1592 decided to drop out after the rainout. We essentially told their alliance partners for the qualification rounds to pick a partner, any team who’d agree to do it. The rule worked beautifully–teams were running back-to-back matches (and I mean back-to-back; they might switch a battery before pushing the robots back to the starting position, but that’s it).

As for food, encourage one of the host teams (or a nearby one, if it’s an external group hosting) to set up and run the stands. 1345 ran it at Mayhem, and they did a good job of keeping things fresh, stocked, and moving fast. Just make sure that there’s grub for the volunteers as well, either in a separate room or in the form of a meal ticket (and perhaps an express line for key jobs) for the concession line.

Finally, I’m going to underline Arefin’s comments about tents. Tempting as they may be, DON’T DO IT! Even if we had played two full days under the tent, the sloped nature of the parking lot made the playing surface less than optimal. Find a gym, a college PE center, anywhere but a tent!

**Thank you all this has been very informative, sounds a lot like planning a regional. I know what the budget for a regional is, how does an offseason event compare? Is it much cheaper or is it about the same? I think it will be a bit cheaper since you can get the venue donated, especially if you use a school, but do you have to run electric. Do you do your own scoring or do you have to rent this from FIRST as well? I’m just full of questions I know, I just want to have as much knowledge to pass on as I can. I like to know what I’m talking about when presenting to someone and I try not to pull the, can I get back to you on that if I can avoid it. I’m sure there will be questions I haven’t thought of but that always happens, people like to know different things. We don’t really have to worry about the tent thing, here in Texas you’d have to be out of your mind to do anything in a tent, if it’s not hot and humid it’s raining for the most part. Again Thank Y’all, ok I had to get one in, I’ve already corrected my grammar a few times :o **

FIRST, apparently, isn’t sending out the ball counting system for off-seasons. You can do the clickers like the backup system they used during the later regionals and Championship, or you can go with a computerized system. (Talk to Mike Walker, miketwalker on here, if you’re interested in the latter. His system kicked butt at Mayhem, and just required sacrificing a keyboard and a little bit of soldering.)

From my experience, an offseason event is definitely much cheaper than a regional competition. In the past Cal Game’s venue is free to use, except for some minimal custodial fee, and we never went for any fancy lighting setup.

You do have to run electrical, but depending on your venue, it’s usually not a big deal. Worse come the worst, you can limit teams on the use of tools in the pit area, because if you don’t, you may blow a circuit breaker or two in some cases.

If you are experienced with regional planning, then you know a lot about planning for an off season already. The only difference is, the budget is a lot smaller, and you are counting on a lot more volunteer support than in a regional, where you have money to hire professionals for a lot of the jobs. In an offseason event, if you want to save as much money as possible, virtually all jobs are filled by volunteers. Depending on how many teams are participating, you may that very easy or very hard to do.

As for the field/scoring system, it is of course best to get it from FIRST. You would have to talk to the Engineering department about that since they are in charged of the fields, but the only limitation there is how much fund you have to ship and field/scoring system to and from New Hampshire.

I think it would be great if someone compiled all this into a white paper. I’d like to publish it on NEMO then as well…

Agree. If I am not so busy figuring things out for Cal Games, I would work on that. Tell you what, once the event is over, I will take a look at the Cal Games Handbook and compile everything from the 06’ event in there, and put together a little something.

Hopefully folks won’t have to keep relearning lessons as we move forward.

-Ken L

This would be awesome as a white paper. It would make my effort to get an offseason even here in the QCA a bit easier. We have the perfect place at Sherrard with 3 fullsize gyms, there’s hotels within 20 minutes although it’s a rural school, and I think 648 could muster up the man power to run it. I just need a formal way to present it to my team most definitely don’t have the time right now. I would be utterly indebt to the person that made the white paper. :smiley: