Sunday, November 4, 2012

Pro Paintball: NPPL Rumor

While it's nice to see Pro Paintball (hopefully) making a comeback it would be nicer if that comeback featured accurate information. Or maybe it does and the problem is with the NPPL. Whatever, somebody doesn't know what's going on.
While one can (perhaps) reasonably debate the relative merits of various venues--and I'll get back to that in a minute--it's kinda important to get the few existing "facts" correct.
Fact is if the NPPL has contacted the Tampa Bay Sports Commission about once again using Raymond James grass parking lots for an event they are dealing with a powerless intermediary at best. You see it's the Tampa Sports Authority that manages Ray Jay and the surrounding city properties and any deal must be negotiated with the TSA. If the NPPL hasn't and the author is trying to enhance his speculation with factoids he simply doesn't know what he's talking about. Pick one.
As to the notion that somehow past and perhaps present (or future) NPPL venues are vastly superior and advance the game the brief history of the past decade begs to disagree. Where is the evidence that any venue--used by either league--has made any identifiable difference ever? Sure HB is a cool location and lots of peeps walk, bike, skate, surf past and so what? Is turf on sand a better playing surface that flat natural grass? What has a decade of HB events done that anyone can point to and say, competitive paintball is better because of HB!
What you can make a case for is that the locations of past NPPL events have generally been more appealing to the players. Even so it seems like most of those high appeal venues require game play compromises like carpet on asphalt. Maybe the real disconnect is in recognizing what's important and what isn't.


Anonymous said...

Artificial turf on asphalt is about as good as playing on a sheet of ice. Ask anyone who played at the NPPL's last event.

Anonymous said...

Spot on baca. Give me a number of how many people began playing paintball because they saw it in a parking lot and I'll buy into this. Heck, even give me a number of people who even pulled over to LOOK and I my buy into this, depending on the number.

Currently, visibility has 0 impact on the game. And to say that the psp has "under-delivered" is a rather retarded argument considering the uspl/nppl FAILED where the psp was at least able to weather the storm.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Turf on asphalt is the best possibly surface for paintball...... provided it's the right turf.

And, there in lies the rub ;)

Short grain carpet is too often passed off as artificial turf in paintball.

Anonymous said...

I think the quality of the grass at an event is very important. I'm not saying the grass was horrible I'm just saying I would like to see a very nice green grass playing field at the locations. I would also like to see stands where people are filling them up because I think it looks bad to have stands with not many people in them.

Anonymous said...

Natural grass is the best playing surface. If you can't find a field of grass to hold your event on, you're just not trying hard enough.

Missy Q said...

I think the venues makes a difference. I enjoy going to an event at an NPPL-type venue more than a PSP-type venue. I get the other differences, but it's easy to say the venues don't count when you're a PSP supporter and their venues aren't as nice...

If you're really into the playing of the paintball, then I understand why you want the grass and why, outside of the field and refs, it makes no difference what's on offer or where you are. However if you're in the industry, or are going to the event as a spectator/supporter, then the venue has more importance and value. 2 different perspectives, and honest people will see both.

Missy Q said...

PS - The Tampa venue was one of the cheapest to be at in the NPPL calendar. They also loved having paintball there, which was another big plus. 15 mins from the airport, 5-10 mins from hotels, I actually think Tampa was the best FL venue so far and certainly better than the WC venues. I would love to see the WC go there instead.

Anonymous said...

Baca's point, however, is that contrary to ProPB's assertion, "nicer" venues do not promote the sport. An event at Fantasy of Flight is no different than an event at a stadium as far visibility goes - there is no one there other than the paintball people either way.

The one exception is HB - and an argument can be made there that showing random members of the public tournament paintball is detrimental to promotion of the sport. If that's what someone thinks paintball is, does it increase or decrease the chances they'll go play paintball? HB also has the big drawback that it's a pretty expensive event for most to attend.

Regardless, the players have spoken, and most of them want grass. Makes sense, when you're spending thousands of dollars a year to compete, that the people willing to do that are more interested in quality of competition than quality of party after they get knocked out on Saturday.

It's great if the industry reps prefer locales like Vegas, but it's the players that pay everyone's bills.

Baca Loco said...

Don't disagree with differing perspectives but that wasn't the point being made, either in the ProPB piece or in my rebuttal.

As to whether the old RayJay parking lot venue would be a viable Cup venue I think it would. Now as to whether or not the city or county would make it as appealing to the league as Polk County does FoF--I couldn't say.

Baca Loco said...

Anon beat me to it.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Well, a "nicer" venue CAN be a great promotional tool for the sport.

However, none of the major leagues have a clue how to utilise it properly, once they get their hands on such a venue..... at least so far.

If the object of a venue with a lot of potential foot traffic is to promote the sport, the organiser needs to actually go the extra mile to make it happen, otherwise it is a completely pointless exercise.

For instance:
- a field accessible to the public to play (incl. equipment rental and paint sales)
- warning paintball vendors well in advance and making sure they bring product which is also interesting to non-paintballers
- have local non-paintball vendors attend at discounted prices
- have plenty of signs (on and off site) and local media coverage that ensures the local population knows it's free to take part
- information signs at fields that explains what is going on and what to look for
- raffles, competitions, tc.
- main field speaker that caters for the non-paintballing crowd
- etc. etc. etc.

Problem with all this is, that it costs a great deal more, than just putting up "normal" event... so why should the organiser do it? - when there is no real income stream to be had from it?

Would industry be willing to pay more for such venues, because of the long term effects?

Old Balls said...

Fuck it! Just bring back skyball!!! I was fourteen when that shit started popping off and it looked sweeet, then....boom, canceled. Now I'm married with kids and my shot at the thunderdome of paintball is gone. NNNOOOOOOOO!!!

George Kalkowsky said...

Why did they start their coverage in the off season? I waited all summer for some good coverage, but now I just don't care, they don't bring the juice anyway.

Missy Q said...

I still don't agree that nicer venues do nothing to promote the sport. Even in isolation I think that there are more people exposed to the sport (rather than the 'game') at a sports stadium venue rather than a field. No argumant can be made that a field in the middle of nowhere helps exposure, however, an event at Rayjay in Tampa does get considerable exposure. An event at a recognised venue also provides a lot of promotion and marketing potential - it's just a case of realising it. Radio ads letting locals know of an event at their local stadium are more likely to attract spectators than an ad telling people to drive 45 minutes out of town. This is obvious.
Also, it's easier to secure other attractions/sponsors to a recognised venue. Baca used to scoff at the live bands and acts that PP used to bring to NPPL events. The idea was to provide multiple reasons for people to attend the event, in the hope that those bodies would populate the grandstands, spend some money on merchandise at the vendors, and generally add to a festival feel.
This worked to a degree, and was free to do. It didn't provoke thousands of fans to attend, but festival events take 3-5 years to establish, and it wasn't given that long to succeed. Exposure was also realised through the promotion of B Real and his Stoned Assassins, and celebrity games throughout the season. Celebrity games that would not have been possible at an obscure country venue. All these things are sideshows, sure, and I think that some purist elements of the player-base thought it was a distraction from the game. But it wasn't one that cost money; just an investment of time and energy.

I've been to a lot of events this year, and one thing that's struck me is the amount of people saying that the events are 'not as good as they used to be'. When I ask why, they reference the above sideshows as something they miss, and the venues of 03-07. Why is this?
Another thing that PP always did was alert local media and have local TV and radio stations record skits from the event that were aired later that day on the local news. I don't think it can be argued that free airtime is a bad thing, or that it 'does not work'. Do these media outlets care to travel to obscure venues? No, they don't, and for the most part, won't.
That said, what's the argument that 'better venues do nothing to promote the sport'? Instead of asking for documented proof/evidence of the positive impact of superior venues, why not explain clearly why crappy venues offer an equal opportunity for marketing and exposure, and provide proof of that?
Not so much fun huh?

The guy above wants Skyball back. Do you think he'd be interested if Skyball was held at Cousins paintball? No. He remembers events that ran from '98-2001, the last event taking place 12 years ago, simply because it was an awesome venue.

Baca Loco said...

In thirty years you'll still be spouting the woulda coulda's but the truth is the PP model wasn't sustainable and while that extra cool stuff sounds swell--and even reasonable--there is zero evidence that any of it is true.
All national tournaments have the same "excitement" problem the old PP festivals had--the first few times they are exciting because they are new, once they aren't new anymore they need to do something else or more to retain the "excitement" of the returnees. And that starts with why everyone is there--to compete--every other priority or "extra" comes after making sure you're running a proper tournament.

As for Skyball guy he never went to one but he's sure he'd like it now when he can 'cus it seemed awesome at a remove when he was a kid.

Missy Q said...

I disagree. The elements I outlined are entirely sustainable, through the merit of them being free. The PSP's smaller, tighter infrastructure, and their more loyal player base would easily sustain an intelligent foray into better venues. There were flaws in the PP model, and moreso in the NPPL model, but to say it failed, or wasn't sustainable is 'throwing the baby out with the bathwater'. Many elements of the PP model could be used now and would benefit the events, especially at higher profile venues.

Again you ask for evidence.
There is no evidence that Romney would have won the election if he'd been nicer to Latino's, but we all know it was a factor and that with more latino voters he would have had a better result. There's no evidence that aggressive political ads sway votes one way or the other, but every available TV ad was bought and paid for nonetheless. Often promotion cannot deliver 'evidence of success' directly, which is why marketing guys hate CFO's the World over.

My point remains that I do believe that better venues make a difference in the way our sport is perceived. Maybe not in the goldfish bowl most of the players live in, but to the outside world. However - If no effort is made to capitalise on that improved perception, then sure, go back to the pasture, it's a waste of money to elevate to a better venue if you're not able to leverage it.

By the way, there's no evidence to suggest that the efforts of PBA and the (stellar) webcast are working either. Perhaps that should be scrapped? There's no evidence that the new stats, provided at great expense, are helping the sport in any tangible way, and don't even get me started on whether that's a sustainable enterprise....

raehl said...

Missy, you're delirious.

Have you ever been to a sports stadium when there wasn't a pro game or concert going on?

No, and neither has anyone else.

If there's one place you can GUARANTEE there isn't any member of the public who is going to see your paintball tournament, it's a sports stadium parking lot on a weekend when there isn't a Pro game (or concert or something else.)

Hell, even when NPPL ended up having the tournament the same day as a make-up college football game in San Diego that one year, *NOBODY* from the football game made it over to the part of the parking lot where the paintball event was. That was the same year NPPL had set up a stage with bands at the entrance to the event which had literally 9-12 people watching them play.

It simply makes no sense to compromise on the quality of competition to chase the attention of the zero people hanging around empty Pro stadium parking lots.

We tried. The stadiums don't work, no reason to keep repeating the mistake. (But hey, if stadiums with empty parking lots are particularly cheap to rent, more power to the league - but let's not fool ourselves into thinking there is some "promoting the sport" payoff.)

Nick Brockdorff said...

I find myself agreeing with Missy :O

Though, I also think he and Baca disagree fundamentally on what "better" means in this instance.

I have a feeling Baca means "better for the core customers" and Missy means "better for the sport in terms of generating outside interest" - and those two are very different things (at least at base level).

For the core customers, the main priorities are:

- Reffing
- Surface which is flat and holds up to weather
- Low wind conditions
- Cheap hotel and transportation

Those things can be had more or less anywhere.... and yes, I agree the league should not compromise any of those, for a more "upscale" venue.

However, if the league is into growing paintball, it would not hurt one bit, to try and find venues that both live up to the aforementioned criteria AND:

- Location in a densely populated or highly trafficed area
- Location in an interesting media market
- Location which allows for good socialising/nightlife
- Location which allows for creating a festival type feel

Raehl: Why do you think the choice is either a stadium parking lot or a cow patch in the middle of nowhere?

I would rather prefer an urban parking lot, or a concert venue - or something similar.

I think there are a lot of cities out there, that would welcome a visit from the PSP, and would do quite a bit to accomodate the league.... especially cities that are not home to a major sports franchise.

In Europe, we estimate the MS generates around $ 700 into the local economy, per attending person (staff/player/guest)... and I think there are a lot of cities out there that would welcome that addition to their local economy.

It just takes a bit of work to find them..... but luckily, the PSP have a very large network (the players)... and if the league put a call out for people to suggest 2013 venues, including a set of criteria, you might be surprised by what came up ;)

Baca Loco said...

No, Nick, my point is all sorts of nonsensical claims are made about the "better" venues but there is zip, zero, nada evidence any of that ever amounted to anything at all in terms of "growing the sport."

Nick Brockdorff said...

I agree with you on that.... but I don't think that has to do with the venues... I think that has to do with how leagues have failed to capitalise on opportunity :)

Anywhere in the developed world, there is a percentage of population which will find paintball interesting and can be motivated to take an interest in a major paintball event.

But, as long as leagues do not have a grasp of demographics and how to communicate with them..... you are right, the venue becomes irrelevant.

However, I still cling to hope that at least one of the major leagues, will finally hire a person that knows how to extract value from a venue which - logically - should generate added effect.

But, as earlier said... it won't happen until the major leagues either become more selfless - or industry is willing to pay more (as they are the ones ultimately gaining).... because without a clearly defined income stream, no league has a direct financial interest in doing the extra work.

Missy Q said...

I stand by my post. I don't feel particulartly delirious either. No-one has attempted to counter the points I made and so therefore I count those as points won.
If all the critics can do is knock what happened 5 years ago and re-adjust their blinkers, then perhaps the level of creativity that's needed to acheive low cost promotion for paintball through elevated venues just isn't currently available.
Clearly I'm not suggesting that anything be taken away from the current organisation, or that any core values be compromised. I'm not delirious enough to think that anything like that needs to happen in order to add some marketing value. Also, people need to decide why they think the PP model failed. It can't be because of 'everything they did'. That's obsurd. PP did a lot of things right and many of those things the PSP can also benefit from. If you guys seriously can't see that you're in the same goldfish bowl as the rest of the sheep.
I almost agree with Nicks post above, not entirely, but at least he doesn't have his head buried in the sand...

Anonymous said...

PSP Phoenix 2012 compared to the other 8 events over the past 2 years

**Least attended event in 2 years
**Least amount of vendors in 2 years
**No additional local traffic despite increased radio and print ads
** No participation by local business despite increased effort
**Lowest vendor sales
**Highest priced venue for PSP
**Most challenging operational/logistical event because of policies in place with city/facility administration
**The only event that ran in the red for the last two season (excepting flood costs of Galveston)

8 events at paintball parks and/or in the middle of Polk County fared better than the one event at a named facility with immediate access to entertainment, close hotels, extra effort put into out reach programs within the local area, night life 2 blocks from the field, etc

How's that?

Anonymous said...

Another thought to add --
PSP went to an unknown uncelebrated paintball field in Galveston TX. The next year had 3 leagues, 2 affiliates, dozens of independent events, and a small boon in player participation happen in the eastern Texas area. The next years event in TX was the highest attended 1st event in PSP history.
PSP went to Phoenix for 4 years and played at the highest profile facility in the area. The one league that had operated there collapsed, two local fields shut down, and turnout was lower each and every year.
I'm aware that's not a completely "apples to apples" argument. But it's still very relevant to the discussion concerning merit of high profile venues.

Missy Q said...

Terrible effort, your context is way off. The second event of the season vs the World Cup? Come on dude. That's your comparison?
The World Cup is the premier event, with the best attendance. It was when it was in a cow pasture and it still was when it was at Disney. Spectator attendance was better when it was at Disney, and that's because the venue was more attractive. What the World Cup needs is a fitting venue as a stage for the spectacle. There is more potential for growth at the Cup than anywhere else, because its the easiest event to drive people to through creative marketing. What could the World Cup be if it's venue lived up to its name?

And in a way you're even proving my point. Pheonix is/was in my opinion the best venue in the PSP calendar. More could be done to promote the event and the venue, as good weather is guarenteed and the facilities are really nice. I feel that local news/media would be happy to attend that event and that additional vendors could have been encouraged.

Also, 'despite increased radio and print ads'? What ads? What 'increased effort' went in to attracting local businesses?? What 'extra outreach'?
How is it the most challenging logistical event? The crew tell me different. They love Phoenix because its such an easy event to set up and run. I'm not sure your 'facts' are adding up here. At least try to back up your claims.

Missy Q said...

Re your 2nd post. Wrong. The PSP marketed that event as 'Galveston Island, with all the Spring-break poontang the players could handle, crazy nightlife and a stunning environment on the water'. It was basically marketed as a premier venue in the middle of all the action, so you're actually helping me out here. Camille added some razzamatazz to the promotion of the event and it paid off. If it had been marketed as "an unknown uncelebrated paintball field in Galveston TX" I would not expect it would have had the 'success it enjoyed' (hard to type after the event we had there this year).
Please though, keep posting, you're building a solid case for me.

Nick Brockdorff said...

The failures of the past are just that..... failures.

Nobody can deny - all else being equal - a venue in a populated/high traffic area is better.

Nor can anyone deny all previous attempts have been - at best - moderate failures.

Paintball needs to stop living in the past.