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ACBL Regionals at Clubs - Put the Ecosystem to Work.

There is much discussion about the attendance decline at regionals. New insight has been posted elsewhere on this site. Age is a double whammy. Older new members and declining participation rates of players over 70 makes it clear the trend will continue. 

Separately, the ACBL has 1960 members residing outside North America. They find it difficult to attain LM status because that cannot earn Gold points conveniently. These players are active in NABCs. 

Separately, security models for electronic tournaments (4 humans not robots) require a moderated or supervised space for conducting the games.

Here’s a business proposition for BBO, ACBL, and large full service clubs. (This is a bonus offered only to those clubs or club groups with a defined and staffed glide path for onboarding new players).  Because of the value of this plan, the ACBL will audit clubs for standards and compliance i addition to recruiting results.

Why not establish a distributed regional played on specific days with as many participants across the zone who want to participate to do so.  Play will occur on preferred club premises only. Districts will nominate preferred clubs. ACBL will validate their credentials. Monitor(s) and access keys provided by the clubs on site at time of play. No remote participation whatsoever. Directors will be online and not present in the club room. Offer pairs, Swiss teams, and KO events only if sufficient players subscribe. Run these once every 2 months. Start times by time zone make play instantaneous. MP Awards are as for F2F regionals.  Clubs set their entry fees. 2 or 3 Districts share the sanction cost and all revenues. Players bring pads or smartphones to play. Battery charging available at the table. Partner’s do not sit together. (International players would require clubs who can moderate these games  thy might play among themselves because of the time sone issues).  

These Regionals could easily be 2- or 4-day events instead of a full week. 

Positives:

  • players travel no farther than their club
  • full service clubs provide premium offering exclusively.
  • Clubs have incentive to create functioning onboarding process and show result
  • Demographics impact delayed
  • Players in search of gold with distance or cost barriers are better served.
  • Can hasten demise of marginal small regionals to good effect. 
  • Substantially lower costs for players. 

Issues:

  • Competition with F2F regionals will create resentment with volunteer base and tournament sponsors.
  • Adverse effect on District and Unit finances as profit centers could be adversely affected. Compensation from shared online model uncertain. 
  • An equitable finance model requires definition. 

On Finances

Say a regional charges $15 per session and clears 25% of their take. That means they want $15 per table net revenue. If the ACBL takes another $4 per table the total required is $19 per table. Add BBO income ($10/table??) and the funds required are $29 plus fair rent overhead coverage for the club. So at Honors where table fees are $33 per person session, this would require upping the price to $40 to cover additional costs. At the Cincinnati Bridge Center, players pay $7 per person session. That would raise to $15 pp, in line with regional cost ($14 pp now).

This kind of cooperation between full service clubs and Districts is long overdue and can creatively satisfy the need of playing members better than current high cost high travel face to face regionals we have today. 

Kick this around and tell us all what you think.  Somehow we need for the best of BBO and the best of club bridge to come together to create large highly talented fields that offer regional bridge in ways current approaches can’t.  These games must award all pigmented points.

By forcing collaboration here we teach the ecosystem about interdependence and collaboration in a way everyone can win. 

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