By Danielle Lehmann
After much anticipation, the US Quidditch Cup location has been finalized, and those regions without a set regional championship location now have one. While we waited all summer for these announcements, this year’s bidding process started back in December 2014. With months of critique and evaluation, there’s much more to the bidding process and selection than the final announcement.
The bidding process itself is detailed and written out in USQ’s Event’s Bid Manual. Bidding opens in December and closes in April, giving cities five months to get their best package together. The package in question consists of some basic necessities, such as fields with electricity, services during the tournaments, financial support, and site visits by USQ volunteers. The requirements vary depending on which tournament the city is applying to host. For example, the regional championship fields must have space for four to six quidditch pitches, whereas the national cup field has to have adequate space for ten quidditch pitches.
These basic requirements, as well as additional bonus material – such as proximity to major airports or boasting good weather for the time period when the tournament would take place – are available for anyone to read. The quidditch community may implicitly understand these requirements from reading the manual or from firsthand experience, but many cities are unfamiliar with this opportunity and with quidditch as a sport. Joe Pickett is one of the many people who talk to cities about the bidding process and the benefits the city are expected to receive when hosting a tournament.
“I first met Joe Pickett [USQ Location Coordinator] with USQ at the National Association of Sports Commission’s Annual Symposium in Milwaukee this spring,” said Brian Chung, the Sports and Events Sales Manager at Travel Salem in Oregon. “He discussed the bidding process for next year’s regional championships and said there was a little bit of time left for interested cities to submit a bid to host.”
While cities give the quidditch community fields to play on, services like restrooms and EMTs, and financial support, the cities also receive an influx of players who will be staying, eating, and exploring locally.
“Hosting a USQ regional championship would be a great boost for [Salem] in several ways,” said Chung. “Economically, we would host the championship during a slower time of the year so hotels, shops, and restaurants will get an extra spike of business it would not have had otherwise. From a marketing perspective, hosting such a unique event will generate overwhelmingly positive media attention showcasing our community.”
USQ has a Stay & Play policy which mandates that any team traveling to the designated city from 100 miles or more outside of it must make a reservation at one of the approved properties for that tournament, such as local hotels, homes, and condos. This is a huge economic boost for hotels, who will book those empty rooms; for teams, who will receive the best rate for those rooms; and for USQ, who collects commissions on the rooms booked for those players attending the tournament.
“Many organizations that build bids are paid by the city but also, and more prominently, by the hotels in the city,” said Kym Couch, USQ Northwest Regional Coordinator. “I know that Boise’s conference-organizing group is. So if the hotels and the city don’t see tangible benefits, they’re not going to be likely to bid.”
Since this bidding process is still in its early stages of development and implementation, some cities are still hesitant to apply because there’s not a lot of data from previous years.
“The bidding process was pretty easy to follow for the most part,” said Chung. “The one thing that would’ve been helpful was a better estimate for room nights for a Northwest Regional Championship. I think 2015 was the first year so there is limited information available, but the estimates on the bidding manual reflected larger event expectations.”
With quidditch gaining popularity and more media coverage to show interested cities, it might become easier to explain the sport and a tournament’s needs to those who are doubtful.
“Most of the [bidding] process is pretty straightforward,” said Alex Scheer, Great Lakes Regional Coordinator. “If anything were to be changed, I think the dates for submissions should be earlier, and if a host city is interested, it should be invited to that current year’s regional championships to get a better idea of what it would be hosting.”
Once a city submits a bid package, USQ evaluates the bid and determines the two finalists per region and for the US Quidditch Cup as well.* USQ volunteers participate in site visits in order to make sure facilities are what USQ is looking for and to help narrow down choices for the eventual tournament locations. USQ has between May – when finalists are announced – to the end of the summer to decide where the rest of the regional championships and US Quidditch Cup will be held.
“Lots of cities, and even individuals in cities, are much more receptive to the idea of quidditch than we realize,” said Scheer. “I think it’s all about the approach. I think it would be a lot neater for people living in those cities to reach out to the area. It worked pretty well for MLQ, for which I was able to secure a field location and other items for the championship event rather quickly because I was able to meet with the people who would help plan the event almost at any moment’s notice.”
So if you’re disappointed with the location of this year’s tournaments, get your city involved for next year. Answer questions about quidditch, get city officials talking to Joe Pickett. Maybe next year one of these events will be in your own city.
* This year, the Great Lakes, Northeast, Northwest, and Southwest Regions did not have two finalists.