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2015-03 Monthly Message

From NASPAWiki

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The 2016 North American SCRABBLE Championship will take place on August 6-10, 2016, at the Grand Wayne Convention Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana. This webpage will be updated regularly as additional details became available.

Your NASPA Social Media Committee, in collaboration with Visit Fort Wayne, has put together a short presentation to introduce you to Indiana’s second largest city, a hidden gem that will serve as a wonderful host city for the crown jewel of our tournament calendar. You can view the presentation in video form here.

If you would like to view an interactive version with clickable links, you can view that here.

Fort Wayne is the Northern, central location that provided the most attractive combination of criteria for our marquee SCRABBLE event. It is within driving distance of numerous Midwest cities, it has a beautiful, state of the art convention space, the weather averages predict relatively pleasant conditions, there are copious food options within walking distance, including some at an award-winning minor league baseball park, there are local attractions for visiting non-players, reasonable hotel rates of $99-112, and the staff from Visit Fort Wayne, the Grand Wayne Convention Center, and our host hotels are all eager and enthusiastic to welcome us to their town. For location information prepared especially for us, please visit this link.

John Chew and Chris Cree told the folks at Hasbro at a January meeting where the 2016 NASC would be held. The reaction was predictable. Chris said, “Well, pal, throw us $200,000 and we will be in Chicago with the ghost of Frank Sinatra singing 'My Kind of Town.' By the way, the North American School SCRABBLE Championship, hosted by a multi-billion dollar global entity will be held in...Paw...what – it, Rhode Island?"

How Site Selection Works

The process of site selection for a Championship begins about two years before NASC Director Dallas Johnson surveys the competitors and says, “You may begin.” In a previous Monthly Message to the membership, Chris Cree outlined some of the myriad steps required in the production of an NSC (now NASC): the first two steps in that 30+ item list were finding adequate space and analyzing numerous offers from various cities and properties. The factors that the Championship Committee must take into account when choosing a city and venue include:

  • venue cost
  • accommodation cost
  • likely number of players booking each category of accommodation
  • weather
  • hotel availability
  • hotel quality
  • number of active players within driving distance
  • airport access
  • air carriers serving airport and direct flights to other airports
  • parking rates on site and off site
  • proximity to restaurants and entertainment
  • notable nearby tourist attractions
  • proximity to medical and courier services
  • the eagerness of the venue to welcome our group
  • and more

The location in the country is narrowed down for us based on the decision to rotate through six regions of the country, to try to give each region a chance to have a relatively local event. The 2014 Buffalo NSC was in the Northeast, the 2015 Reno NASC is in the Northwest, and the 2016 NASC will be in the Northern central part of the country. The following cities provided NASPA with proposals or hosted one or more members of the Executive Committee for a site visit, sometimes with the input and support of local club and tournament directors: St. Louis, Kansas City, Wichita, Louisville, Cincinnati/Northern KY, Columbus, Akron, Cleveland, Dayton, Minneapolis, South Bend, Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Sioux Falls, Detroit, Chicago, Madison, and Milwaukee.

In many cases, local Visitor Bureaus, hotels and venues start room rates at $159 or higher, or charge a substantial fee for the playing space without offering any offsets based on room night commitments. The harder ones to rule out are the ones that offer what looks like a good deal on paper, necessitating an on-site visit. In person it can become obvious that there are poor sight-lines in the playing space due to an inexplicably large number of supporting columns, that the breakout rooms can't be accessed from the main playing space by players in wheelchairs, that the entire hotel smells of mold or is otherwise unsuitable, or that what seemed like a reasonable walk from the hotel to the nearest restaurant district doesn't look safe.

Read more about the production of a National SCRABBLE Championship in the 2013-05 Monthly Message.

Looking Ahead

Now that the venue has been selected, we look forward to putting together the rest of the details that make this event so special in the eyes of our players. We hope that our members continue to enthusiastically offer their support to make this event happen, as much relies on volunteers and staff: in the planning stages, at the event, or through membership on the Championship Committee. Though we do a lot of planning in advance, we will be doing so with the wishes of the members at the forefront. The Championship Committee plans to solicit feedback from both attendees and non-attendee NASPA members after the 2015 NASC, specifically including feedback about the format. In order to maximize member input into the process, we have asked the new Social Media Committee to solicit interested individuals to help craft the language for that feedback form. We will publish the results of the feedback to the membership, and will rely heavily on the opinion of the membership as to the relative merits of the format alternatives in establishing the format for the 2016 NASC. In addition, the Championship Committee will provide advance notice of the format tentatively selected for the 2016 NASC to the membership prior to opening registration for next year’s tournament, so that members will have an additional opportunity to have input into the process before the format is established.

We look forward to seeing you in Reno this year, in Fort Wayne next year, and at many events in between. Any feedback regarding the NSC can be sent to nsc@scrabbleplayers.org.