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Tournament venue

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NASPA-sanctioned tournaments are held in a wide range of tournament venues — hotel ballrooms, convention centers, community centers, church basements, restaurants, cruise ships, etc. — according to the needs of the players and directors.

At the high end, a national event for 400–800 players would almost always be held in a hotel ballroom or convention center, be organized by NASPA staff, often with a venue contract that provided the playing area at a minimal charge (if any) in exchange for the expected number of guest room nights that out-of-town visitors would bring to the site. Such an event would usually be planned at least a year in advance.

Many club directors organize an annual regional tournament that may attract 50–200 players. These tournaments may be held at hotels, but especially at the smaller end they are more commonly found in other public spaces such as community centers and churches. These events would be planned six to twelve months in advance.

Some clubs also organize more frequent, smaller events for 4–40 players that meet either in public spaces or restaurants (where players may be required to make a food purchase in exchange for their use of the space). We require eight weeks' advance notice for a tournament booking; clubs which host events regularly may sign contracts with the same venue for a year or so in advance.

At all levels, organizers look for the following in a venue:

  • Space, tables, chairs: tournament Scrabble is played one-on-one at square or rectangular tables 2.5–3 feet wide. One game can fit on a square table; two on a 6–8-foot rectangular banquet table. There must be room between tables for players to move comfortably on foot or in a wheelchair. A director will also need an electrical drop for computer and printer, and at a large event a public address system.
  • Low venue cost: in industry jargon, we are SMERFs (Social, Military, Educational, Religious & Fraternal) and typically book space that would otherwise go empty off-season.
  • Pleasant playing environment: bright but non-glare light, quiet, not too hot or too cold, a reasonable number of restrooms nearby.
  • Reasonably priced catering: players are hurried during their short lunch breaks, will eat on-site if offered convenient and reasonably priced food, but will otherwise find fast food off-site.
  • Accessibility to the disabled: all organizers must announce whether or not their event will be accessible, and are strongly encouraged to make it so.
  • Convenient but separate smoking areas: smoking players need quick access between rounds to a place where they can smoke; non-smoking players do not want to have to pass through smoke to get fresh air.
  • Free Internet access: directors often post their tournament results live online.

If you manage a venue that you think would be appropriate for a SCRABBLE tournament, you may contact us at info@scrabbleplayers.org or look through our club roster for the contact information for a director near you.