The Future of Nationals

There was some discussion at the team forum about how to do Nationals in the future. I would be curious to hear what everyone thinks. The concern from FIRST was that Disney is running out of space and resources (ie. already have biggest temporary ampatheater and tent ever constructed by them) and the competition will grow, how do we continue to do nationals? Some suggestions were:

  1. Based on last years performance you get selected to go to nationals this year.
  2. Qualification for nationals from how you did this year.
  3. Leave it open as in years past and let Disney deal with it.
    Obviously there are pros and cons to each. What are additional thoughts as well as your pros and cons on the above?

I’d like to sewe what Disney has planned, I think possibly a multi-park event would work. Also somthing sorta like the olympics where we take over a town would be kool.

Andrew

Well, really, the biggest concern is where to put finals. I mean, there’s plenty of room to put up more tents or set up more playing fields if need be and fairly easy as well. But, it really comes down to where they will put everyone for finals. It is very difficult to set up a bigger theatre for finals. As far as making it a multi-park event, it would be a pain to transport robots from one park to the next for finals. And you wouldn’t get to see how any of the other divisions are doing. Plus, EPCOT’s parking lot is definitely big enough to set up more tents. And even with multi-park events, we still have the same problem of where to put everyone for the finals.

Well, those are just my thoughts.

~Christina ºoº

Perhaps abandoning the amphitheater style setup and going with something like a stadium layout? Instead of a 160 - 180 degree viewing angle, you can have a complete 360 degree wraparound seating arrangement, with the field centered at the middle. With a large enough field area, you could even have the division fields in the center, with passageways radiating out to separate tents for each division.

Viewers get to see all the matches. Teams have more personal space in their division tent, yet still have easy access to the central staging area.

…I personally think that finals is merely a transportation problem for FIRST/EPCOT, and not a capacity issue. If future finals are anything like this years, they will be rather sparse.

The capacity issue comes into play during the awards. Transportation is an issue here, too…but by then you’d only be transporting people…by that time you could have all the non-finals crates packed up, and Mears is doing a great job already with people-moving.

You know, I just had a thought (stand back, it may be strange)…maybe Disney is the thing holding us back with this “competition in the round” type deal. It may not be an issue of bleacher space at all, it may just be that there is no space to put all the stuff that goes WITH the stage, such as all the electronics, the production trailer, and the “Disney Entertainment” trailer, not to mention the catwalks and the VIP area, without blocking any more viewer vision.

Maybe the answer to this is…how has “competition in the round” been settled at regionals, and how can that be adapted to Nationals?

Plus, please dont reply with your gripes about how the stage is set up, and why theres so much space for the media & the VIPs…lets work towards a solution this time.

I still think what I like best is an idea brought up at the NH forum (by the T157 folks I believe):

Do a ‘National’ on each coast… afterall, we’re not utilizing the fact that ‘Disneyland’ is on the other coast and could maybe use a little popularization by a mass attendence of people.

Two nationals would slightly regionalize the pack… but the option could still exist to go to either and ways to prioritize who gets to go where could all be figured in. This would all us to cut the attendence at each event to half of what it is at Disney currently, giving us the room to double the # of teams before running into this sort of problem again.

It also somewhat brings up the stress that Nationals aren’t about “going to Disneyworld” (though it’s fun) and start to take the ‘stress’ of nationals. This way, we could get to what FIRST sees as the future… when regionals are the Place-to-be and nationals, if they still exist, and be restricted entrance by performace because everyone will have equal access to regionals.

… and on the 2 nationals… the winner of each meet at a place specified by FIRST to play it out… i think it’s about time FIRST go back to the WasingtonDC and strut our stuff… why not have the “World Series” of FIRST at a world capital.

I think it’s the best idea I’ve heard since slicing bread and I think qualifying for nationals can’t really happen until a few years down the road.

As for the multi-park competition… a couple of dislikes… if that is the case, why waste the cash on Disney and just hold 4 ‘mini-nationals’ around the country… at least divisions as they stand are in a single place and anyone can easily access and see other teams in other divisions… (my two old teams where both in different divisions from myself… and I wouldn’t have been able to see either of them)… and then sure, play the finals on one field… but when you are trying to focus on winning a National, who wants to be trying to repack then unpack all there stuff for transport from MGM to Epcot…

I mean, I hate having to get on the bus and get from one park to another… never mind trying to pack my pit, my 'bot, my spirit stuff, and my team and get them there and reset-up!

my thoughts :slight_smile:

I think the two nationals is crazy. I was at that forum in NH and saw the reaction from both the FIRST members and the forum members.

I think Disney has to give us more lean-way. They want us to stop growing and we all know that Dean and the Board of Directors would never let that happen. We have to negotiate with Disney and find something that is mutually benefitial for both of us. I mean, I crunched some rough numbers and I figured the three days the competition happens, we make Disney at least $6,000,000 (6 millions dollars) gross profit. Probably more. If we continue to increase in size, we continue to line their pockets with more and more money. I’m sure a settlement can be reached, but it’s only we both sides come to the table with clear thoughts and will listen to the other side. We’re benefitial to each other, we just have to listen.

OK, that’s enough of my speal. Go onto your lives (if you have one).

when regionals are the Place-to-be and nationals, if they still exist, and be restricted entrance by performace because everyone will have equal access to regionals.

The problem with that is trying to make hotel reservations for nationals. It’s tough enough trying to make reservatios in January. Try making them 2 weeks before because you don’t know if you’re going or not.

Exactly!!!

*Originally posted by EddieMcD *
**
The problem with that is trying to make hotel reservations for nationals. It’s tough enough trying to make reservatios in January. Try making them 2 weeks before because you don’t know if you’re going or not. **

About having two different Nationals, and having the finals in someplace like Washinton DC… I think that’s a great idea, and it can be done.

Making travel reservations would not be that tough… the harder thing would be to get the students out of school for the additional time of a National Finals in someplace like Washington DC.

For this option there real choice would be when the have the DC Finals.

It could take place two weeks after the Disney-Nationals. Teams can do the travel planning… if you think they can’t, ask all of those Little Leaguers in Williamsport PA next week. And none of them are sponsored by corporations, just by parents and communities.

Getting the students out of class for another 3-4 days would be tougher than the money.

A better solution would be to wait until school is out for the DC Finals. This extra time would provide these things:

  1. Gives teams a chance to plan their trips
  2. Gives FIRST staff a chance to breathe after the Disney-Nationals.
  3. Gives more attention to the teams who are going to the finals (community and Nationwide).

Andy B.

The problem with too long of a delay is that people will loose interest. If you want to do finals like that, it needs to happen a very short amount of time afterwards. Actually, 4v0 could benefit this as there’s no need for the teams to be in the same location.

Matt

Yes, but didn’t FIRST say it was going to be a competition this year?

It could take place two weeks after the Disney-Nationals. Teams can do the travel planning… if you think they can’t, ask all of those Little Leaguers in Williamsport PA next week. And none of them are sponsored by corporations, just by parents and communities.

That might be true, but you have to remember that the hotels in Disney and other places nearby are going to be populated during the nationals not only by FIRSTers, but people wanting to go to Disney (and that’s a lot). Williamsport hotels probably will populated only by people who are going to see the World Series.

On the side, a little league team from upstate RI plays tonight for the trip to Williamsport. :slight_smile:

*Originally posted by Matt Leese *
**The problem with too long of a delay is that people will loose interest. If you want to do finals like that, it needs to happen a very short amount of time afterwards. Actually, 4v0 could benefit this as there’s no need for the teams to be in the same location.

Matt **

who are you saying that will loose interest? i certainly won’t. i feel that it would pump me up even more

Ok, here goes. I’m gonna try to respond to what everyone has posted and add my $0.02.
Andrew said to multi park the event, not gonna happen well. Moving the teams, robots, tools, and other pit stuff isn’t gonna work. The teams will be unprepared for their matches due to the inability to scout, this year is supposed to be competition again. The idea of taking over a town like the Olympics would be great. One problem, what town? FIRST isn’t as big as the Olympics so what town would allow us to take over? It would have to be near FIRST HQ, which many people have said they don’t want to be up north for nationals.
Adrian, I’m liking the 360 idea. That makes sense to me, I wondered why they didn’t do that last year when I saw the setup, I was a rookie so I didn’t realize that’s how it’s been forever.
Jessica’s comment about Disney holding us back is really accurate. There are ways for Disney to setup all their stuff without it being in the way. They could lay fake flooring over wires onthe ground and duct tape them down under that. Setup a booth behind the stands, like a sky box at a pro game.
Colleen, I’m thinking that having events at both Disney parks would be like multi parking in Orlando, except that this would put a definate riff betweeen the 2 coasts. Sorta like splitting between AFC and NFC. There would be a split that would defeat the purpose of getting everyone together at nationals.
Leon brought up that Disney wants us to stop growing, yet our homework assignment this year was to increase the number of college teams. Go figure. I cannot believe that we are a financial burden on Disney as was pointed out be Leon’s figures; 6 million in their pockets is about the profits of a movie, not so bad for 3 days versus a year.
Eddie’s point about hotels is huge. We can all go and fill up the Disney hotels if there is vacancy but they would most likely be filled anyway. Which is better, having plans of these roome being filled by FIRSTers and counting on the money or speculation? Personally, I’d bet on the sure thing.
Andy suggested finals in DC. This is a possibility but I personally would not want to be in a prime target area with diplomats everywhere. I used to live there, there are many places you don’t wanna be. Before people start telling me that that is the situation in most cities I’ll say this: it’s not isolated parts of the city that are bad it’s every street corner. Any street you cross you have to hope that a diplomat doesn’t wanna run the red light and execise his diplomatic imunity. You will get run over in DC if you’re not exceptionally carefull. DC is really not the best place to have a competition like that with a large volume of people. Don’t get me wrong I love the city, I miss living there sometimes. Then I think about the crap and it makes me glad I don’t live there anymore.
Matt, teams wouldn’t loose interest in the competition but any hopes of media coverage would be shot. The delay would force media to schedule for multiple events which could put thestrain on thecoverage. It would be very little coverage and nothing good.
As for my thoughts, I’ll try to be brief. I think we need to figure out a way to have the competition with everyone there. Suggestions have been made to buy an old football stadium. Sounds good to me, especially if the city has hosted a Super Bowl. This would mean plenty of hotel space and capacity to hold everyone. I am not pushing the idea of dopping Disney but if they are unwilling to suport our growth how can we stay with them? It is possible for Disney to work with us a bit more than they seem to be. Mybe it’s time to get out of the parking lot and move into something a bit more permanent. There is another discusion about this going on in the national competition forum, I recomend reading that too. Sorry for writing a novel but I hope this covers everything.

Well a couple things-

Despite what everyone thinks- Disney doesn’t need us, the exact hassle, or the exact groups of kids annoying other patrons to stay afloat or anything. We come during a very busy season for them and I’m sure if we picked a less popular season to hold our competition, nothing would be as big of a deal.

But we do it in April. And doing it in April, this is what we have.

Basically, at this point there are a couple options… all of which involve ditching the ‘everybody get together’ at Nationals concept. Because I just don’t see the multi-park as happen because it would be such a huge nuisance to get those teams moved and resettled just for the final matches. It seems rather ridiculous… and I think we’re better to play those last matches elsewhere.

As for planning in two weeks: well, I gotta go with Andy B there and say that planning travel for WashingtonDC or something wouldn’t be very hard. And FIRST could even reserve Xrooms for each team that would be attending and the teams could just pay FIRST for them. Then the online thing to worry about is airfare… and well, travelling to Orlando is totally different than going to most places… it’s a hopping destination no matter when…

And I totally agree… 2 week planning and reservation for Disney would be nearly impossible… and that is why regionals can’t be qualifiers for Nationals… cause that logistic just wouldn’t work… and teams at earlier regionals would have a major advantage.

I think no matter what happens… nationals won’t work as this big, happy, ‘let’s get together’ social event… but it can still be big, happy, beneficial, and fun for all those who have the opportunity to participate.

And everyone should have that opportunity.

I think the idea of DisneyWorld and a DisneyLand Nationals is awesome. There might be cons to it, but think of the pros, it certainly gives Disney World some breathing room, and i don’t think it would be like a multi-park event.
To have two nationals, one at the east coast and one at the west coast, would utilize the fact that FIRST stretches all over the US, and if FIRST keeps growing by leaps and bounds, such as it has been, then FIRST is going to run into problems, because then DISNEY is definitely going to say no, because they won’t have the personnel or the man strength to handle the size of the Nats, and i don’t think Dean or anyone at FIRST HQ would like to limit Nats, i would think they would want it to grow, and having two big nationals would definitely show that it has grown.
Also, think of a National Finals in (i think somebody said DC) that would be even greater. A competition in our nations capital would be sure to catch some attention.
I realize i have only been in the program a couple of years, but i think someone is going to have to come up with a solution of FIRST’s popularity and growth, so no one gets shut out of something like Nats because we are to big, that would be horrible. It’s just my opinion that this way of nationals would be a cool alternative.

That’s my opinion, i would like to hear what people think.
MIke

*Originally posted by colleen-t190 *
**
As for planning in two weeks: well, I gotta go with Andy B there and say that planning travel for WashingtonDC or something wouldn’t be very hard. And FIRST could even reserve Xrooms for each team that would be attending and the teams could just pay FIRST for them. Then the online thing to worry about is airfare… and well, travelling to Orlando is totally different than going to most places… it’s a hopping destination no matter when…
**

DC wouldn’t be exactly the best place to hold nationals (or finals or whatever). We’ll start first with the fact that there isn’t any arenas or sports stadiums inside of DC. There are also no large buildings (no building can be higher than the capital) which cuts down on hotels. A good portion of DC isn’t the nicest area because of crime. So that basically leaves you outside of the city if you want to be in the area. And I don’t even want to get started on traffic. Let’s just say I made the mistake of driving in DC rush hour traffic once and I don’t intend to do it again.

Matt

Okay…first thing to get out of the way.

Disneyland can not support a National Competition, or half of one, or anything remotely close. Land in Anaheim is at a premium, and DL is landlocked (The reason that the WDW property is 47 sq. mi.) . . . California Adventure sits in Disneyland’s former parking lot. There’s no room there. Nada.

A stadium or theater in the round arrangement for the finals seems to be the easiest and most realistic alternative. Perhaps FIRST can design a game with this in mind? The competition from the past few years doesn’t really allow for any sort of spectator viewings from the ends. . .maybe a round or octagonal field?

There’s one big hurdle in that plan. . . cover. Having a centrally located stage makes setting up the A/V and lighting systems hard enough. But, don’t forget. . .the Main Stage needs to be covered from the rain! I think everyone’s overlooking that. So, that means someone’s got to erect some sort of roof over the stage, but that roof has to be high enough so that everyone can see under it. Can you see how things get a bit hairy now? That roof is a big deal.

So… with that in mind, does anyone have any suggestions?

If I get really bored at work today, maybe I’ll do some research into the convention facilities at the Contemporary Resort. They’re huge. . .I know that much. Perhaps we can be housed there? It’s only a short walking distance from the Magic Kingdom (and the backstage entrance to Tomorrowland)

I totally agree with you on this one, Michael; I think you clarified what I said in an earlier post.

Yes, what can be done? Come on, we’re all engineers here (in some way or form :wink: )

After re-reading all the posts, it seems that people aren’t talking about what was stated in the original post. To all those people that are talking about how the stage is setup or where the competition could be located in WDW, that isn’t the problem. The problem is that FIRST and the nationals are getting way to big and Disney doesn’t have enough man power to handle FIRST, I think someone else mentioned the fact that we hold nationals in April which is a very busy time for Disney, which is also very true.

I think the problem that should be concerning everyone is how can we make it so that everyone that wants to attend nationals can and not limit nationals because we are too big. Someone, I think Scott, mentioned some possibilities such as, based on last years or this years performance. I think that is very opposite of what FIRST is trying to do, its limiting teams based on their robot performance, and in my opinion if your team builds a robot and its able to move an inch then you deserve to be in nationals just as much as anyone else, and that’s what first is all about, learning and having fun, not to go out and win win win.

Also, so people mentioned the possible amount of money Disney profited, The Disney Corporation in general makes hundreds of millions if not maybe billions a day from their customers, I don’t think $6 million is that much to them.

This is my opinion.
Mike