If you're the event planner for a roller derby league, you may be thrilled to see your team's hard work come to fruition during the first home bout. However, pulling off a bout on your home turf can be challenging, and you may find there are a number of factors you've overlooked until the last minute. Read on for some important tips and preparations to remember while planning for this unique and exciting event.
Renting tables and chairs
Depending upon the size and setup of your bouting facility, you may need to rent chairs for your skaters and spectators and tables for your merchandise sellers and other vendors.
Although it can be tempting to ask guests to bring their own chairs to avoid the cost and potential hassle of renting and transporting them yourself, doing so could open you up to liability. If you don't own the facility in which you're bouting, outside chairs can risk scratching the floor, causing expensive damage your league may be responsible for. Renting chairs from a reputable company will ensure you're able to select a type with non-skid feet that will be safe for everything from slick stadium concrete to old-school wooden floors.
In addition, outside chairs (especially camp chairs) may not be sturdy enough to stand up to an out-of-control skater hit out of bounds, and renting your own solid metal or wooden chairs can provide a bit more crowd protection if a skater lands in the spectator area.
You may want to go ahead and develop a business relationship with a local chair rental company; if your first bout is successful on this front, you'll have one fewer headache to deal with when planning subsequent bouts. Many rental companies like Party People Rentals & Sales might include delivery and pickup in their fee, allowing you to focus your energy elsewhere while others handle chair and table setup.
Accommodating medical personnel
Having a nurse, doctor, or EMT on hand during a bout is crucial (and often required by the league's sanctioning body). Equally crucial is ensuring your medical staff has access to the track and a safe and secure place to store their gear. Placing your EMTs in a relatively non-accessible area can cost valuable seconds if a skater is injured on the track.
You may want to rope off a corner of the track near the benches and reserve this area for your EMTs so they can easily travel back and forth to treat skaters, placing a few rented chairs in their corner so they'll be comfortable during the bout and can spring to their feet quickly. If you're not sure there's room on the track for your medical personnel, you may instead want to secure them a seat directly behind the benches so coaches and referees will be able to summon them as needed.
Keeping the crowd excited (and comfortable)
If your venue doesn't already have a wired-in sound system, you'll want to investigate your sound system rental options – being able to hear the announcer's voice can go a long way toward educating derby novices about what is happening on the track. Many of your spectators will likely be seeing a bout for the first time, so having announcers with some experience and derby knowledge will ensure everyone is able to enjoy themselves.
It's also key to keep this energy going through halftime. Whether you opt for a fun, lighthearted halftime show like a hula hoop contest or a more derby-centric one that involves on-skates racing, jumping, or whipping, keeping the action and excitement going through halftime will ensure your bout maintains its momentum well into the second period.
Most importantly, you'll want your spectators to be comfortable. While some fans will always opt to stand, having too few seats for the venue capacity can result in a dwindling crowd by halftime. Calculating the maximum number of spectators your venue will hold, then adding in some extra chairs for your skater benches, EMTs, and announcers will give you a starting point from which to determine how many chairs you'll need.