The Penny Wise Pound Foolish 2019/2020 NAC Schedule
The NAC Schedule for 2019/2020 is out. As you can see from the pins on the map, they are predominantly located in the Mid-West,
7 of the 8 NAC locations are within driving distance of each other. Charlotte, Detroit, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Louisville, St Louis and Columbus are all within driving distance of between 3.25 hours to 9.75 hours of each other. Salt Lake City is the lone NAC location in the West. Here’s a table of what the distances and drive times look like using Columbus, OH as the center:
Louisville (Summer Nationals)
Detroit (March NAC)
St Louis (April NAC)
Charlotte (January NAC)
Milwaukee (November NAC)
Kansas City (October NAC)
Estimated Drive Time
3 hours 11 minutes
3 hours 14 minutes
6 hours 15 minutes
6 hours 40 minutes
6 hours 45 minutes
9 hours 45 minutes
While there are reasonably priced and convenient flights from major East coast cities to these 7 Mid-West locations, the flight options for fencers from the West are, as usual, terrible.
If US Fencing is saving $50,000 from choosing these Mid-Western 2nd tier cities, while forcing parents from the West to spend an additional estimated $500,000 in airfares and extra hotel nights, this is very bad policy! (See: Holding National Competitions in Hub Cities)
Does US Fencing have the financial savvy and planning skills to figure out a system that stems this money leakage and brings some of these wasted funds back within the US Fencing system for the benefit of all - even half of those wasted dollars would be enough to kick start a referee training program.
Fencing Parents wrote a lengthy email (Email to US Fencing Board and Management Regrading NAC Organization) to US Fencing copying the entire Board in November 2018 addressing the issue of of NAC locations in great detail and explaining why these locations created very real difficulties for fencers in the West.
The material response from US Fencing was one paragraph long. We published it in January 2019 in our blog NACs Will Generate an Estimated $1.9 miilion Surplus This Year, So Why Did US Fencing Raise Event Fees? Here is that US Fencing response again:
“I appreciate the time you took to outline your concerns with travel, scheduling and the selection of locations for National Tournaments.
There are many factors that go into the selection of a city for a national tournament. While there are numerous considerations that are taken into account in city selection and proximity to airports with numerous flight options is always one of them, other factors include convention centers with a location at or near the city center and close access to hotels of a variety of brands which has been a request from our membership as well. One of the most significant pieces of this equation is venue size. During the past eight years, as our tournaments have continued to grow in terms of the size of fencing fields with several each year topping 300 competitors in a single discipline, the space we need to accommodate them has more than doubled, meaning that the number of cities that can even consider holding a fencing national event has decreased.
As Dan mentioned during your conversation in Kansas City, we are continuing to look at new cities as options and have several new partnerships we are excited to unveil in upcoming seasons. “
Presumably the exciting new announcement is holding Summer Nationals 2020 in Louisville, KY, a city to which there is ONE non-stop flight from all of California!
Space is not the real constraint. At the heart of all these decisions is one of cost. As we pointed out in NACs Will Generate an Estimated $1.9 miilion Surplus This Year, So Why Did US Fencing Raise Event Fees?, US Fencing holds its NAC venue rentals to 2% of its overall expense budget. They do this to maximize NAC surpluses which are desperately needed to cover deficits for Senior Team USA’s expenses, their international travel, the national coach salaries and referee travel to international tournaments.
Fencing Parents is completely on board with supporting our fencers internationally at all levels, Senior, Junior and Cadet. However, the US Fencing leadership must do a whole lot more to get sponsorships and raise funds to pay for mission related activities.
Penalizing 25% or more of the NAC going population with extra flight and hotel costs, and lost school days and work days so as to minimize venue rentals is unacceptable. It’s even worse when fencers are excluded from NACs altogether because the travel costs are too expensive for them to afford.
The Board needs to meet its fiduciary duties to take care of the best interests of all of its membership.
Please share this article with anyone who may be affected by the NAC locations issue