East Carolina University is no stranger to large club and intramural sporting events, especially large sports tournaments that bring teams from all over the United States to participate at our four recreational sports facilities.
In the past seven years our department entertained USA Rugby, NIRSA Region 2 Soccer, NIRSA Regional Basketball, Aztec Sports Soccer, NC Senior Games, NC Youth Soccer and countless other multi-team events. Although we are constantly improving and striving to be a world-class host, we hit a few bumps in the road along the way. Snowstorms, hurricanes, double bookings and even a wildfire have yet to derail our desire to keep players of all ages coming back to Greenville, North Carolina.
Get in the Live Streaming Game
Our newest addition to events is two portable Spiideo cameras for live streaming. These AI-enabled cameras allow for live-streaming footage of games with rather simplistic setup and no need for a camera operator. Our Sport Programs team live-streamed intramural championships for the first time this semester, and our club sports clamor to show their games to an ever-expanding audience of alumni, friends and family each weekend. The ability to broadcast tournament matchups is the next evolution in hosting high-quality events and our department’s entrance into this field is essential to attracting new reservations. The ability to monetize streaming in the near future will allow our club sports to add an additional revenue source in our efforts to ensure financial sustainability.
Don’t Forget Officials
The ability or inability to attract officials to your facilities based on proximity and population is a huge hurdle when scheduling large-scale events. Our institution is in a region with limited exposure to lacrosse, so hosting a multi-field event requires paying travel costs for officials. We are fortunate to have strong relationships with an assignor in Raleigh, North Carolina, but are still on the hook for increased fees. Your tournament cannot run successfully without high-quality officiating. You must pay special attention to how you recruit officials and how you can afford to pay their fees. A break-even analysis based on officials’ costs may force you to greatly increase entrance fees and could possibly force you to reevaluate the logistical challenges of hosting.
Prep Your Campus and Community Early
Prior to booking any large-scale sporting event, it’s essential to work with your local convention and visitors bureau or sports commission to determine what other large events are occurring and what hotels are available. The size of our town, and limited hotel rooms, precludes our teams from hosting on home football gamedays, or when other large community events may limit availability. We also pay special attention to reservations on our campus, especially those that revolve around admissions or student recruiting. Limits on emergency resources — police, fire, EMS — athletic training coverage, parking, etc. can put a damper on your participant experience. Plan early and involve as many campus and community partners as possible.
We are all in a budget crunch with declining enrollments, the inability to raise student fees and inflationary pressures. Hosting a big event, especially one that involves high-priced facility rental or entry fees, is not the time to pinch pennies and limit personnel. Event staffing, especially those dedicated to operations, is essential to the participant and fan experience. Overflowing trash cans, restroom stalls without toilet paper or empty water coolers for athletes hamper your ability to create a quality event. When an incident occurs, it’s great to have multiple staff members to handle an EMS arrival, the transportation of a fan in a golf cart to a cooling zone or to direct traffic to auxiliary parking when double the cars you expected arrive at once.
Put on Your Rain Boots
Having a weather plan is great, but sometimes you must put on your rain boots and break out the waterproof pants. Simply canceling events for bad weather is not always an option, especially for those that are qualifiers for national championships. You must work diligently with your turf manager to determine what level of saturation your fields can handle, and the feasibility of rotating to different fields when available. Your weather plan always needs to include a point person to work with tournament organizers to determine playability, the threshold for canceling, and the ability to reschedule or postpone. Player safety is always paramount, but grass will grow back and your socks will eventually be dry.
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