Pits were great, venue was the pits...

Posted by Joe Johnson, Engineer on team #47, Chief Delphi, from Pontiac Central High School and Delphi Automotive Systems.

Posted on 4/26/99 8:25 PM MST

Hey folks,

While the complex that Disney constructs to host the Nationals is awesome and the pits in particular were truly fantastic, the venues were aweful.

To show you how bad it was, I LOVE this sport, yet I could barely bring myself to stand in that merciless sunshine on the chairs squinting my eyes in order to watch the final matches.

It was HOT!

It was hard to see!

It was hard on the knees!

It was not a spectator friendly sport at all.

The smallest regional had more people watching the finals than watched the National Finals!

It was the worst venue of any of the FIRST events I have ever attended.

In fact, as crazy as I am about this FIRST stuff, I am seriously recommending that our team skip the Nationals next year in favor of another regional if the venue is not significantly improved.

What do other team think?

Joe J.

Posted by Andrew Trax, Coach on team #180, S.P.A.M., from Southfork,Martin Co. High and UTC.

Posted on 4/27/99 3:29 AM MST

In Reply to: Pits were great, venue was the pits… posted by Joe Johnson on 4/26/99 8:25 PM MST:

Your are right. It was not easy on the knees. But I know it’s
going to get better. We heard that Disney is constructing a 40,000
seat arena. Air conditioning, seats, birds-eye-view!
Using Disney as the proverbial ‘carrot-on-the-stick’ to
interest volunteers and sponsors is priceless. I would not want
lose that edge.
And I would never have guessed that the pits could have been
improved so much after last year’s cramped conditions.

Mrs. T.
Team 180 - S.P.A.M.

Posted by Nate Smith, Student on team #74, Holland FIRST Robotics, from Holland High School and Haworth, Inc…

Posted on 4/27/99 1:17 PM MST

In Reply to: Re: Pits were great, venue was the pits… posted by Andrew Trax on 4/27/99 3:29 AM MST:

: And I would never have guessed that the pits could have been
: improved so much after last year’s cramped conditions.

DEFINITELY!
The aisles seemed to be slightly wider, allowing more traffic to make it through, and the BIG screens for on deck and the action from the stages kept everyone away from the doors like last year.

Also, thanks again to Raytheon Deep Thunder for the web station. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to let everyone know at home how we were doing…

Nate

Posted by Tom Wible, Coach on team #131, chaos, from central high school manchester and osram-sylvania.

Posted on 4/27/99 6:10 AM MST

In Reply to: Pits were great, venue was the pits… posted by Joe Johnson on 4/26/99 8:25 PM MST:

Boy Joe, that was a mouthful! But I have to agree, I love this thing too, and I did not see ONE match from the seats. I watched the rest of the finals from the screen in the pit. I still stand by my recommendation that the arena should look like a boxing venue, with the ‘ring’ in the middle. A catwalk to the field would be good to get the teams out there. I also noticed that there were way too many people (cameramen, photographers, refs) moving about in front of the stage. This is a big no-no. This was rampant in Hartford as well. My opinion on this is that the teams are the paying customers and deserve to see the match in all its’ glory, unobstructed.
Have you ever been to a show where the stage crew walked across in front of the show? The screen in the pits was awesome but I think a split screen with one continuous shot of the whole field is needed. The camera is always cutting to the drivers. Those shots are nice but not when we are all trying to see the robots in action. Team shots should be edited in to the video show later, not while the game is in play. Have you ever seen shots of the coach in the middle of a play in a football game?

'nuff sniveling for now.

Tom Wible
P.S. I am seriously considering not going to Florida next year as well for the same reasons you mentioned

Posted by Raul, Engineer on team #111, Wildstang, from Rolling Meadows & Wheeling HS and Motorola.

Posted on 4/27/99 6:37 AM MST

In Reply to: Pits were great, venue was the pits… posted by Joe Johnson on 4/26/99 8:25 PM MST:

Since you mentioned first, I don’t feel so bad about bad-mouthing my favorite event. I agree with Joe 100%. I could not see very well from the stands and it was somewhat unbearable to sit there for very long. They need to have some sections in the stands with shade. All the seats in the front on the ground were pretty much useless also. Why couldn’t they just have started the stands closer to the stage and have them go up from there like any other stadium/arena? I know they needed lots of seats for the awards ceremony, but they should have just made the stands deeper/taller.

I was up on stage during the finals and looked out into the crowd and was surprised to see almost all the seats empty!!! For the most part there were only the folks standing in the shade near the stage.
I hope FIRST noticed this. And if they did, they cannot be happy about it.

Raul

Posted by Frank of team #97, Psychedelics, from CRLS sponsored by MIT.

Posted on 4/27/99 11:01 AM MST

In Reply to: Very few watched the finals posted by Raul on 4/27/99 6:37 AM MST:

Since it was so hot outside in the sun, and since the view was much
better on the TV monitors in the pit, out team decided to watch the
finals from inside the nice air conditioned pit. There were quite a
few others camped under the big screens in the center of the pit
cheering on their favorite teams. There was no way everyone would last
in the stands to watch all the finals (from the octafinals on down) and
we wanted our students to see all the finals matches, so I think our
plan worked well. However, I know the feeling of standing on the stage
with tons of people cheering for your team. It must have been
disapointing for the teams on the stage not to have a full house
cheering like in previous years.

Finally, I just want to say… Great job WildStang!!! Your robot is
truely awesome this year!

Frank Bentley
Team 97 - MIT/CRLS '99
Team 111 - WlidStang - '96-'98

Posted by Elaine Anselm, Engineer on team #191, X-Cats, from Jos Wilson High School and Xerox.

Posted on 4/27/99 11:21 AM MST

In Reply to: Pits were great, venue was the pits… posted by Joe Johnson on 4/26/99 8:25 PM MST:

Joe - I couldn’t agree more. It was so sad to see all of the hard work that went into the competition and the celebration that is so deserving during the final rounds be met with empty stands. We wanted all of our team members there for the finals, but people were getting ill from being in the sun. I was very disappointed.
As far as being able to see, it was the worst I have ever seen it. We have been to Florida every year since 1995 (when it was back in the America’s Pavilion in EPCOT). With so much of the competition on the floor and not big and bright like with cherry red 42 in balls (not that I want to see a return to balls), plus the kneeling on the astro-turf with a raised stage were horrid. We had a few people with canes who were told they had to kneel or sit. People in the stage wanted the crowd pumped up, but the next minute, they were being told to sit down.
The heat and direct sun combined with the long, long days was unbearable. The best time to watch the matches was Thursday night – you could see the screen and it was not unbearably hot.

The floor seating was a waste of time (except maybe during the awards ceremony). The Newton stage could have had the raised seating up near the stage and that would have helped a lot. I don’t think more than 10% of the bleachers there were ever used.
Disney does not advertise FIRST at all that I saw, so wat is the big deal about moving it to some place that is less noticeable.
We too have talked about skipping the nationals unless something major is done. With the dollars we spend to go to Florida, we all should expect a lot more from Disney and from FIRST.

Posted by Andy Grady, Coach on team #42, P.A.R.T.S, from Alvirne High School and Daniel Webster College.

Posted on 4/27/99 12:20 PM MST

In Reply to: Pits were great, venue was the pits… posted by Joe Johnson on 4/26/99 8:25 PM MST:

Hi all,
Ive always thought that the competition should be held in a basketball arena or similar venue. Maybe we could convince FIRST to hold the competition in the Orlando Arena, where the Orlando Magic play. It would definately be able to hold everyone. Disney could host all the teams at disney world and sponsor the event in a way. Either that or they could just basically construct another tent (air conditioned) very similar to what was used in the pit, and put stands in it. It would have the environment that everyone would like for the competition. In a nutshell disney does a great job in putting on the competition, however it is just becoming way to hard to view the competition, and even too unhealthy staying outside for it. Hopefully FIRST will consider this.
cya all,
Andy Grady, DWC/Alvirne HS

Posted by Austin Martus, Other on team #47 from son of pchs coach.

Posted on 4/27/99 1:48 PM MST

In Reply to: Venue Ideas posted by Andy Grady on 4/27/99 12:20 PM MST:

Why dont they put up a circus tent and use that for an arena and use the same tent now for
pits with the circus tent you have a veiw on all sides and would be out of the sun and for an intermission you could have a tight rope walker
but NO CLOWNS too many people are scared of them

Austin Martus

Posted by Chris, Coach on team #308, Walled Lake Monster, from Walled Lake Schools and TRW Automotive Electronics.

Posted on 4/28/99 11:01 AM MST

In Reply to: Re: Venue Ideas posted by Austin Martus on 4/27/99 1:48 PM MST:

No clowns? Does that mean guys like me aren’t allowed? On second thought, don’t answer that.

: Why dont they put up a circus tent and use that for an arena and use the same tent now for
: pits with the circus tent you have a veiw on all sides and would be out of the sun and for an intermission you could have a tight rope walker
: but NO CLOWNS too many people are scared of them

:
: Austin Martus

Posted by Dave, Student on team #308, Walled Lake Monster, from Walled Lake Schools and TRW.

Posted on 4/28/99 1:09 PM MST

In Reply to: NO CLOWNS!?!?!?!? posted by Chris on 4/28/99 11:01 AM MST:

Sorry Chris, you can’t go now :slight_smile:

Dave

:
: No clowns? Does that mean guys like me aren’t allowed? On second thought, don’t answer that.

:
: : Why dont they put up a circus tent and use that for an arena and use the same tent now for
: : pits with the circus tent you have a veiw on all sides and would be out of the sun and for an intermission you could have a tight rope walker
: : but NO CLOWNS too many people are scared of them

: :
: : Austin Martus

Posted by Joe Ross, Student on team #330, Beach Bot II, from Hope Chapel Academy and NASA/JPL, NASA ARC.

Posted on 4/27/99 1:45 PM MST

In Reply to: Pits were great, venue was the pits… posted by Joe Johnson on 4/26/99 8:25 PM MST:

I have to agree with everything Joe said. I was on the pit crew and the human player so I didn’t have a chance to see any rounds except for the finals, and after sitting in the stands for one round, I gave up and watched the rest from the pits. Not only was it hot outside but I couldn’t see a single thing from the stands.

I already told my team that I’m not going to the nationals next year unless things improve significantly. I had much more fun at the Ames regional than I think I could ever have at the nationals.

My suggestion for FIRST would be to get rid of the chairs and have the stands start right behind the place for team viewing. A higher contrast screen would also be better. I couldn’t see the screen from the stands, and sometimes that was the only to see the action.

The one thing that I liked was the estimated score that they used in the finals. I hope they continue to use that.

Joe Ross
Team 330

: Hey folks,

: While the complex that Disney constructs to host the Nationals is awesome and the pits in particular were truly fantastic, the venues were aweful.

: To show you how bad it was, I LOVE this sport, yet I could barely bring myself to stand in that merciless sunshine on the chairs squinting my eyes in order to watch the final matches.

: It was HOT!

: It was hard to see!

: It was hard on the knees!

: It was not a spectator friendly sport at all.

: The smallest regional had more people watching the finals than watched the National Finals!

: It was the worst venue of any of the FIRST events I have ever attended.

: In fact, as crazy as I am about this FIRST stuff, I am seriously recommending that our team skip the Nationals next year in favor of another regional if the venue is not significantly improved.

: What do other team think?

: Joe J.

Posted by Austin Martus, Other on team #47 from son of pchs coach.

Posted on 4/27/99 2:05 PM MST

In Reply to: Pits were great, venue was the pits… posted by Joe Johnson on 4/26/99 8:25 PM MST:

why didnt they position the stages so that the sun would go over the stages differently in stead of left to right like in the morning coming from the back of the stage to the back of the viewers instead of the left of the viewers to the right of the viewers
anyone get that or am i totally wrong

Austin Martus

Posted by Austin Martus, Other on team #47 from son of pchs coach.

Posted on 4/27/99 2:55 PM MST

In Reply to: position of stages posted by Austin Martus on 4/27/99 2:05 PM MST:

i was just informed by my dad that the reaseon that the stages are positioned like they were because of the mono rails BIG DEAL (sarcastic) the momo rail is going so fast you dont get to see much either form the front of the stage or the back you are going to get the same amt of people coming in that are non-first people in my opinin

Austin Martus

Posted by Nate Smith, Student on team #74, Holland FIRST Robotics, from Holland High School and Haworth, Inc…

Posted on 4/28/99 6:37 PM MST

In Reply to: Re: position of stages posted by Austin Martus on 4/27/99 2:55 PM MST:

: i was just informed by my dad that the reaseon that the stages are positioned like they were because of the mono rails BIG DEAL (sarcastic) the momo rail is going so fast you dont get to see much either form the front of the stage or the back you are going to get the same amt of people coming in that are non-first people in my opinin

:
: Austin Martus

actually, you’d think that they’d get MORE exposure from the monorails if they turned the stages 90 degrees…as it was, all you saw was the huge bleachers set up with a few big stages…you might actually be able to see the field if it was turned…

Posted by Nate Smith, Student on team #74, Holland FIRST Robotics, from Holland High School and Haworth, Inc…

Posted on 4/28/99 6:39 PM MST

In Reply to: Re: position of stages posted by Nate Smith on 4/28/99 6:37 PM MST:

: : i was just informed by my dad that the reaseon that the stages are positioned like they were because of the mono rails BIG DEAL (sarcastic) the momo rail is going so fast you dont get to see much either form the front of the stage or the back you are going to get the same amt of people coming in that are non-first people in my opinin

: :
: : Austin Martus

: actually, you’d think that they’d get MORE exposure from the monorails if they turned the stages 90 degrees…as it was, all you saw was the huge bleachers set up with a few big stages…you might actually be able to see the field if it was turned…

i just thought of a good example of this…watch the ESPN broadcast from last year…coming back from one commercial, they show a pan across one set of bleachers and stage that could have only come from the monorail…

Posted by Dale, Engineer on team #191, X-Cats`, from Wilson and Xerox.

Posted on 4/27/99 2:25 PM MST

In Reply to: Pits were great, venue was the pits… posted by Joe Johnson on 4/26/99 8:25 PM MST:

: Hey folks,

: While the complex that Disney constructs to host the Nationals is awesome and the pits in particular were truly fantastic, the venues were aweful.

: To show you how bad it was, I LOVE this sport, yet I could barely bring myself to stand in that merciless sunshine on the chairs squinting my eyes in order to watch the final matches.

: It was HOT!

: It was hard to see!

: It was hard on the knees!

: It was not a spectator friendly sport at all.

: The smallest regional had more people watching the finals than watched the National Finals!

: It was the worst venue of any of the FIRST events I have ever attended.

: In fact, as crazy as I am about this FIRST stuff, I am seriously recommending that our team skip the Nationals next year in favor of another regional if the venue is not significantly improved.

: What do other team think?

: Joe J.

I absolutely agree!! In fact, we had a similar discussion in thinking about doing another regional instead of the nationals for the same reason. Disney is very generous in their commitment, but we want our team to get into the game, and kneeling on the fake grass at 90+ degrees was as insane as trying to see a stage that was cast in darkness relative to the surrounding sunshine. Two serious disappointments in an otherwise excellent sport.

Posted by Ken Patton, Engineer on team #65, The Huskie Brigade, from Pontiac Northern High School and GM Powertrain.

Posted on 4/27/99 5:58 PM MST

In Reply to: Pits were great, venue was the pits… posted by Joe Johnson on 4/26/99 8:25 PM MST:

Wow. Everyone agrees on the problems at Disney. I know our team has been ripping on the venue in our feedback forms since 1997. I talked to a Disney rep for a while this year (she was at the last minute making us sign a ridiculously tight license agreement for our satellite broadcast - initially they weren’t going to allow us to make tapes to send to prospective teams - what a joke), and she was very proud of the pits improvements. I told her, yeah the pits are nice, but go to Chicago and Ypsi (IMO the best venues and production) and watch the show, thats the venue/atmosphere that Disney needs to replicate. She didn’t promise to go… You’d think Disney would be ahead of us on all this.

I watched the semis and finals while standing on a chair about ten rows back. It was a pretty good view, and I could usually see the puck. There was nobody behind me. A couple of times a Disney person told us to sit down…

I’d still take the team to Florida. Its a location that gets people’s attention. Maybe we need a bunch of regionals (one per weekend for six weeks) at a small WDW site to allow a whole bunch of teams to go to Florida, and a National Championship at some other location (maybe a traveling one, like NCAA’s). That might work for when we get a lot more teams.

Ken