Each year, more and more ultimate tournaments arrive on the scene. Every club and community want to create their own epic weekend, and the market is starting to become saturated. No longer will any old tournament suffice — the people expect more for their custom. No tournament is safe from the deal-hungry. party-loving ultimate populace whose loyalty is easily swayed. In Europe, even the mighty Paganello has seen numbers cut in half, while on the other hand Windmill Windup is turning away teams by the dozen only ten years into their now massive capacity affair. What are the growing tournaments doing that others can learn from?
As a tournament director for the Siege of Limerick, I’ll be addressing what we do to stand out from the pack. Founded in 2007, when the University of Limerick Ultimate Club saw a spot open on the February schedule for an event that could bring foreign teams to Ireland, the Siege of Limerick has grown into an event known all over Europe and internationally. For almost a decade, many people have poured their souls into this event, trying to make it something special. Back in 2010, Skip Sewell and the Cultimate crew were drafted in to launch the Siege into the next echelon. The American tournament director gurus showed us what could be achieved here in Ireland by bringing in sponsors Five Ultimate and having Ben Wiggins run coaching clinics. In 2012, we had Brodie Smith and Melissa Witmer strutting their stuff in our medieval city. We have made mistakes and memorable moments, and we’ve also picked up a few secrets to success along the way.
Every epic tournament needs a good story, and that story should be inspired by the culture of your city. From Miami Vice to Poultry Days, the greats all embody the exuberance already oozing from their very surroundings. For the Siege of Limerick, we typify a battle that raged our townland during a time not long forgotten. There are no battering rams and nobody gets covered in hot tar, but there is a vicious assault on every liver within the city walls . Tournament-goers will see 175g cannonballs painting the skies above medieval castles and bare drunken bodies blanketing the battlements. This indulgence of our native soul is what makes the 2015 Irish Tournament of the Year a spectacle not worth missing.
For guaranteed success, we recommend getting an anti-weather forcefield for your venue. Yes, there is no better metaphorical kick in the groin for your tournament than having the weather crap all over it. Many a good competition has felt the wrath of extreme elements. Both Trouble in Vegas and Talampaya have taken hits to their attendance in the past due to mother nature giving them a good spankin’. Unless you have a big ol’ bubble like Bubblepest you’re gonna have to be smart with your timing. Running summer solstice in the Sahara or hurricane hucks during September in Florida is the opposite of what I’m suggesting. For the Siege, we are lucky to have the biggest all-weather sports facility in Europe. Although players may have sideways rain carving their faces from time to time, our fields won’t flood. Irish weather can be bleak, but, like our largest land predator the common badger, not particularly threatening. To insure prosperity, make your time and location complement the climate.
Ever-growing incentives is one way to draw a crowd. We find that appealing to the vanity of players is very effective. Having more cameras than you can shake a stick at will help spread the word as people change their profile pics or share a video taken at the event. We look to try and take on the holy grail this year of having a live stream. If vanity isn’t your thing, why not appeal to our community’s charitable side and develop an emotional connection with your patrons? Windmill Windup are passionate about offsetting their carbon footprint and folks appreciate that. We will be raising money for the Irish Cancer Society by hosting a Friday night shave or dye party, with razors, waxing strips and hair dye at the ready for anyone that wants to make a charitable fashion statement.
There’s nothing like some diversity to spice up the festival feel as well. Getting teams from out of state or out of country adds social proof to your occasion. If people are willing to travel far, it must be good. The Siege offers reduced player fees and free hosting to foreign teams to help stimulate this process. We aim to have the big guns fly in bringing flair and prestige to the event.
If you have an opinion on what makes tournaments successful, come tell us by bringing a team to the Siege of Limerick 2016. When you’re here you, should also check out St. Hatricks Day, a mixed hat tournament that takes place on castle grounds the following weekend! During the day take part in tipsy frolicing that somewhat resembles ultimate, and at night have a banquet dinner at Ballybinge Castle! Leprechauns, poitín and ginger nymphomaniacs are additional extras.
For more information, and to submit a bid to The Siege, visit our website at sites.google.com/site/thesiegeoflimerick.