HOSTING THE ISC – bringing “the show” to town
By John Thompson
Hosting an ISC Tournament has always included an inherent obligation to build on the successes of the past.
With the Winter Olympics scant months away, (Vancouver, BC Canada in February 2010), it brings to mind the Olympic Creed.
Baron de Coubertin borrowed a motto from Father Henri Martin Dideon, the headmaster of Arcueil College in Paris. Father Dideon used the motto to describe the great achievements of the athletes at his school.
Citius… Altius… Fortius
Swifter… Higher… Stronger
Coubertin felt it could be used to describe the goals of great athletes all over the World.
Perhaps the same could apply to the ISC and host communities as they ponder their collaborative future.
For the ISC, the days of expansion and growth (swifter and higher) and stability (stronger) may not be easily attained for the revered World Softball Tournament.
In the softball hey-days of the 1970s and 80s, ISC “world” teams competed in a double-knockout competition with as many as 48 teams participating from 1987 to 2000. In the last decade, the number of teams has eroded to 40, then 32 and this year 24 squads.
The ISC “world” teams have decreased by 50%.
Is there a solution?
In 2002, a concurrent event – the ISC II Tournament of Champions - was born. In its 8th year, this year the II championship features 40 teams.
Both events are marketed under the banner of the ISC, and together provide economic impact to local host communities.
For host committees, the marketing ploy is to come and see “the best”.
For host committee budgets to succeed, and the event to be a major attraction, quality is anticipated. Bring us the “best”. But, the “best” is simply not enough. Host communities anticipate economic impact. That is not driven simply by the “best”. It is driven by numbers.
Numbers such as hotel rooms occupied…. restaurant meals devoured… automobiles rented… attractions visited…..
At the parks, it’s about more numbers - paid admissions… programs sold… 50/50 pots…. hot dogs consumed… souvenirs sold…..
To be blunt - it’s about the cash!
Success as a host…
For any ISC event to be successful, there are certain mandatory obligations by the local, host city community.
An infra-structure ranging from first-class facilities for the games, to appropriate accommodations for teams and fans, must be available.
Mandatory is an effective, enthusiastic and competent host committee.
Quad Cities receives high marks in these key areas.
The four-plex parks at Green Valley and Campbell Complexes are more than adequate - perhaps even “first-class” for the games. The “between-the-lines” playing conditions for the players is of paramount importance. This week, the grounds crews of both multi-diamond facilities have been pressed into extra duty to combat the weather elements. The crews responded with daily mini-miracles to have the diamonds fit for play within hours of the clouds opening.
The Quad Cities greater community has hotel accommodations galore, at all price points to meet all ranges of budgets for teams and fans.
Lynn Hunt and the committed volunteers of the Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau are serving as welcoming hosts. Smiles and mid-west hospitality greetings are the norm as the legion of yellow-shirted local ambassadors welcome the throngs to the parks.
Quite frankly, the 2009 ISC tournament is an engaging event. As visitors, sharing our love of fastball – as players, stakeholders and fans - we’re certainly glad that we’re here.
There is a direct dependency between the ISC and the host communities. Both entities require each other to be successful.
The future of the ISC rests in the hands of the well-intentioned volunteers who serve as ISC decision-making personnel. Strategy will be debated and approved for the future.
The future host communities will determine when, and whether, it’s time to continue providing the infra-structure for the championships.
Many communities have hosted very successful ISC world, and more recently ISC II, tournaments over the years. It’s great to have this event return to Quad Cities following a 36 year hiatus. However, will the great hosts of the past continue to serve up hospitality and a willingness to respond to this ISC “opportunity” in the future.
Will Kimberly, WI return for a record 12th hosting? Now that Quad Cities has dipped its toe back into the ISC pool, will there be motivation (and economic impact) to do it all over again?
What of Eau Claire WI, Fargo ND, St. Joseph MO, Sioux City, IA, and north of the border Summerside PEI and Victoria BC?
Kitchener ON is committed for 2010, but what of beyond?
Nowadays, it’s not Reagonomics… and its not Obamanomics. It’s the new reality.
Host community expectations
The Host Community opens its doors to embrace an event. The ISC brings “the show” to town.
In North American history, in the old days, it was a big event when the circus came to town. Similarily, it was a big event when the ISC was staged in communities from coast to coast.
What do host communities expect when hosting “the show”? And what have host committees provided in the past?
The future is difficult to predict at the best of times.
Tomorrow, a visit to the host communities of the past fifteen years. Comparisons will be made on such key topics as facilities, organization, food services, amenities, pricing and unique aspects that set each community apart.
This trip down ISC memory lane may serve to recall wonderful experiences from the past. It could also serve as a check – list for the future.