What does it take to run an off season?

Hello Chief Delphi,

I was just seeing if it would be any feasible running an off season, and making it any decent so teams return the next year, if we host it :slight_smile:

So far I had this primitive list… Anyone with experience running one, mind letting me know what’s really needed and is missing from the list?

  • Pit area
  • The Field
  • Concessions Stands
  • Awards
  • Music & Announcing
  • Webcasting/Video Recording


  • Queuers
  • Pit Admins
  • Referees

Thank you,

A display for scores is always nice, but definitely not a necessity.

One other thing is that in the pits, the teams like to have power, so you’ll probably need lots of extension cables, and power strips.

A paper titled “How to IRI” was published by Chris Fultz and Andy Baker for teams who wanted to learn how to host an offseason.


Hope that helps.

Check CD-Media for hints. Chris Fultz and Andy Baker wrote an amazing white paperthat we used as a bible in setting up CAGE Match last year. I also wrote my mostly non-technical thoughts on hosting a smaller event. If you have any questions please feel free to PM or email me - I’m sure AB and CF would be more than willing to help as well.
Take a look at the andymark.biz website - they will serve as the warehouse for the official FIRST field in the offseason. If you want the official Lunacy field, you’ll probably have to go through them.
Good luck!

I’ve helped with organizing 2 off-season events (in DC and in Baltimore), and worked at a few others.
All the resources referenced above are very useful. Duel on the Delaware has also shared their handbook with us.
Other suggestions:

  1. Decide why you are having. As a team builder? As a Fundraiser? To help with awareness of FIRST teams in your area? These are just a few. Once your organizing committee decides it will help drive many of the decisions you will have to make about cost to teams, number of teams, when to have.
  2. Find a sponsor in the community willing to give a donation up front to help cover expenses.
  3. Figure out the date early. January is good time to decide when in the offseason the event will be held. See #1.
  4. What field are you going to use? If using a FIRST field, will have to lock this in early. See #3.
  5. Keep documentation on everything you do.

Hope this helps.

there is a little basic stuff in the RINOS Manual for Mentors at www.firstrinos.org

Probably the biggest challenge you will have is getting enough teams to come to it to make the event worthwhile.

WC :cool:

I’d just like to take a moment here to thank Wayne publicly. A few years ago, I realized that we need some off-seasons in Texas - or out-this-away, in general. I didn’t have a clue as to how to go about it so I started traveling. I contacted the folks at IRI and asked about it and they said, ‘come on up here and see for yourself!’ I contacted Arefin Bari at Mission Mayhem in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and he said, ‘come on over here and see for yourself!’ I contacted Mr. C at Brunswick Eruption out in New Jersey, and he said, ‘come on out here and help us make Evil Sundaes… mwahahahaha.’ Ok, I’m exaggerating a little bit, he only said, ‘mwahahaha.’ :slight_smile:

On top of that, Wayne talked to me via private messages and gave me an overview for a one day event and shared some of the information regarding lay-out, side events like the Evil Sundae competition, fees, volunteers, the technical aspects and the field stuff - things like that. That was after BE6, I think, and I attended BE7 this past fall. It was wonderful.

The IRI guys, Chris Fultz and Andy Baker, were very helpful as well, and they also directed me to the information they have posted and continue to update here in Chief Delphi. Mission Mayhem is another wonderful event and is one of the off-seasons in Florida that showcases the power and talent in the Floridian teams.

All of these event planners have been outstanding in offering support and in sharing wisdom and experience in this area. Mr. C, however, is the only mentor who offered to let me just dig in up to my elbows in goo. It was great.

Texas is, indeed, planning an off-season this summer and NI is hosting it during NI Week here in Austin. I’m happy about it and am available to help in any way I can. I wouldn’t feel this confidence in offering help and support if I had not traveled and learned from the best. I’m not finished yet, I plan to travel to many more off-seasons and learn more, experience more, and have a blast.

One lesson learned from pascack Panda-monium last year is this: Have a LOT of people who are dedicated to making sure their small part of the event is planned, set up and run properly. The event core team was able to focus on the dozens of small problems that came up, since all of the major areas were being handled well.

Planning takes about a year, but this can be compressed into 6 months.

If you want teams to return, make the event easy for them - easy weekend (no SAT or other major event that day!), easy load in, plenty of power in the pits, easy for spectators to get in out, good parking, a score display, experienced volunteers (get with the local regional planning committee about that) especially announcers, fun for those attending… In short, imagine what the ‘perfect’ event would be for a team, and try to do that.

Jane’s advice on visiting other off-season events is essential. You’ll find people are happy to share.

Oh, yes - you’ll need a place that can handle a full field plus pits. A full field is about the size of a basketball court, plus you need room at the edges for equipment, judges, etc.



Many others have great resources for you to use. If you find that you still would like more info on other off-seasons, please e-mail me and I will send you our materials we use for the Duel on the Delaware every year. These include action item lists for the planning committee, volunteer lists, and documentation that we send out to attending teams and volunteers.

As you have already heard from others, know WHY you are doing this and then make sure you have enough committed volunteers to put on a smoothly-run event. Also, this year, one key point is where you plan to get your playing field - from FIRST (you will need to arrange and pay shipping charges) or some other supplier (mid-Atlantic teams tend to use NASA Goddard field developed by Mike Wade and currently managed by Rob Thate at NASA. Getting Reglolith material and orbit balls is another factor you will need to consider.

If you don’t plan on doing this for another year, I would recommend you connect up with someone who has a history of putting on off-seasons and sit in with their planning team when they meet (hopefully, over the phone). You will learn so much by doing this.

Good luck!

I’m sure if Eden Praire decides to host an off-season regional just let us know in Bloomington and we will be glad to help! Send me a PM.

This is a really silly thing to think about right now amidst all the planning that should be going on (they are going on)… but I think we’ll name it EPiC. It stands for Eden Prairie in Coopetition.


(not final, however)

It takes a lot to run an off-season competition…a lot.

The resources already recommended here are a great place to start.

Make sure you have a core group of people dedicated to getting the event organized. There are tons and tons of miniscule details that must be taken care of that are easy to pass over.

Theres also a lot of logistically difficult things to get done. Securing the field, then setting up the field, then making sure the field works, fixing the field when it breaks, setting up a video screen (not necessarily needed), sound system, DJ, lighting (if needed), robot drop off and pickup, pit organization, traffic flow…these are just a few of the things that popped up off the top of my head. It is no easy task…

However, do not let that stop you from pursuing it. Mr. C stated it correctly when saying the hardest part will be making sure enough teams come to make it worth while. Put some feelers out there and see if you’ll be able to get 24 teams (what i would consider a minimum for hosting an event).

Good Luck!


Keehun, I’ve been watching your questions all over CD – it’s great to see the gears turning to get an off-season event off the ground! I have no wonderful insight or answers, but I have one thought in terms of timing.

A late school-year or summer event continues the “glow” of the official season: people are still riding high off their competitions and want one last blast before summer, and for seniors, before they go to college. There are problems with end-of-school calendar conflicts, finals and graduations, etc. Summer might be better but it’s tough when you don’t have school and teachers to help.

A fall event, after school starts and settles in, I’d like you to consider. September thru December there isn’t much on with FRC except preparing for January. You get new students come in and wonder what it’s all about, but it’s tough to say “just wait until January”. You have the after-school robotics “club”, some building, learning the control system, drive the old robots around, fundraisers, and all the rest, but the new kids don’t see the action, the excitement – the end result at the competitions.

Putting on a fall event shows everyone what to look forward to. And I have to add the new parents, too. “Until you have been to a competition, you don’t know what you’re missing.” How many times do you say that? Parents have told me they can’t believe the excitement and energy thats generated at a competition, and would have helped out more if they had known how “big” this really is. It’s not “just” an after-school robot club, after all!

This may cut out rookie teams – no robot. Maybe you can do a price break for teams that bring a second robot, or double up vet and rookie teams and split the rounds with all-rookie matches vs all-vet matches. Or even invite schools without a robot team to come drive. (You might want to do a blanket invite to all schools in your area in case they may be considering a robotics club or even an FRC team.)

Whatever you do, I wish you luck!