What to look out for when selecting a venue for your tournament

9 Safety Considerations When Evaluating a Tournament Venue

Operating tournaments is not for the faint at heart. Between players, spectators, vendors and staff, you’ve got a lot of moving parts to consider. But when tournament day finally arrives, you want to be confident that you selected the right venue to operate a competitive, fun, and safe event. Here are 9 safety considerations when evaluating a tournament venue:

  1. What is permanent?
    • Permanent is always better when it comes to a venue, for two reasons: it is a better experience, and it is generally most cost-effective. For instance, permanent bathrooms always beat port-a-potties. The same is true of a main building or lean-to used for tournament headquarters; using the structure is easier and cheaper than renting a large tent for your staff.  

  2.   Electricity
    • Look for easy access to multiple outlets. Everything from computers, speakers, video equipment, phones and walkie-talkies will need multiple charges throughout the event. Athletic trainers document on their phones; staff tracks game scores and updates tournament info, and spectators want real time updates. Don’t sleep on power accessibility.

  3.  Golf Carts
    • Here is where safety and efficiency start to pair up to operate a great event. Golf carts are essential for your staff, and in case of an emergency. Athletic trainers can cover more ground in a cart, and staff can more easily escort EMTs to the injury site in the event of an emergency. Plus, it’s great to give grandma a lift from the parking lot when all is going well.

  4.  Surfaces matter!
    • Depending on the sport and season in question, surfaces can make or break your event. Turf fields in Georgia during July–you’re looking at shortened games to avoid heat stroke. Hard plastic surfaces for indoor events? Make sure you notify players and consider having an extra athletic trainer on staff for impact injuries and lacerations that could be less prevalent on a rubber floor. The NFLPA reports that athletes have a 28% higher rate of non-contact lower extremity injuries when playing on artificial turf.

  5.  What about backstops?
    • Again, this is where permanence is huge! Setting up netted backstops or snow fencing is laborious and difficult. From soccer to softball, and every sport in between, balls are flying during an event! Protecting your staff and fans is an obligation as a Tournament Operator. 

  6.  Signage makes it smooth 
    • Fields, restrooms, vendors, medical and tournament HQ all needs signage to help participants navigate your event. When scouting a venue, check to see if there are identifying markers that you could brand with your own logo/field numbers, and make sure those indicators match your field map when you create it; ATs and EMTs rely on signage in emergencies! Think–is there clear signage to indicate where the AED is located? Does the venue have a permanent place for the AED? Most athletic trainers will not take a shift if an AED is not present.

  7.  Ice Ice Baby
    • For every event, especially warm weather events, ice tends to be the most overlooked aspect of a venue’s evaluation. Does the venue have an ice machine, and will you have access to it? Your athletic trainers need ice for injuries and in case of a heat emergency; your staff needs it to keep drinks and food cold. It goes quick, and making hourly runs to the closest 7/11 is not realistic.

  8.  Weather Monitoring System
    • No one plans to have bad weather, but not having a plan in case of bad weather puts you behind. Always check to see what the weather monitoring system and weather emergency protocol is at any venue you are thinking about renting. Lightning, snow, high temps and heavy rain can all affect your participant and spectator safety. Know the plan, and find a venue that is ready to assist!

  9.  Ambulance Access Points
    • Last but certainly not least, find the ambulance access points! How many are there? What’s the distance to the furthest field/court? Can a staff member quickly get from Tournament HQ over to the access point to guide EMTs to the emergency? These access points should be clearly laid out in your emergency action plan for each event.

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