Kiwi and a Baguette, that’s not offensive, right?
At this moment there are two clubs battling to host the 2014 World Hardcourt Bike Polo Championship; Montpellier, France and Timaru, New Zealand. Before any one decides to jump on one boat of the other, we thought it would be important to analyze the two bids using League of Bike Polo’s “What’s most important at a flagship tournament?” census. Looking at the census you’ll see that the four characteristics that are most important at major tournaments are Court Surface (20%), Court Boards (16%), Ease of Travel (12%), and Court Size (12%). Using these player picked top characteristics, we will analyze the two nominations.
In the Montpellier bid, they tell us that the courts that they are offering would be built on “perfect asphalt” that is only two years old. From this we can assume that there will be no cracks to worry about, which is the most important thing when worrying about court surface. And if the asphalt is as perfect as they say it is, then we can bet that the most important characteristic on the census can be checked off by the Montpellier folks.
Looking at the Timaru bid we see pretty much the same lingo. On the website for the bid, Timaru Bike Polo tells us that the surface of the courts is the “perfect asphalt for Polo – fast and smooth.” Since they hosted the Australasian Championship on these courts back in March, we can look at footage to see just how “perfect” these courts are. And after carefully studying the video, you can see that it’s as smooth as a baby’s bottom.
Based on this alone, it would be impossible to tell which would be the best spot for the 2014 WHBPC.
Montpellier hosted the hard hitting 2013 French Hardcourt Bike Polo Championship. Watching the footage of the tournament found at the bottom of the bid, you can see that checks were flying all over the place. With the countless shoulders and bikes hitting the walls, you can’t see an ounce of damage to the boards, so it’s no surprise that this club will know what they are doing if the bid falls their way. On top of this, they plan to use the same boards from the FHBPC, so we know they will be using quality lumber.
Just like Montpellier, Timaru is no stranger to quality courts. While looking at the court surface in the video linked above, you can also see that the boards at the 2013 Australasian Championship look just as primo as the surface. Solid 1.2m boards line strong and sturdy pallets. While you don’t see as many checks in the 2013 Australasian Championship video as you do the 2013 FHBPC, you can tell that the structural design is that of which would hold up to the hardest of Nick Kruse shoulder checks.
Again, we see no difference in the two bids based on the top two player picked major tournament characteristics.
Ease of Travel
Montpellier does not have an international airport, but the city is only a three hour train ride from two major cities (Paris and Barcelona) with such amenities. Montpellier does, however, have a small airport in case you are looking to do any traveling before or after the tournament. On top of this, the Airport of Montpellier is only a 30 minute bike ride from the courts!
Timaru also lacks an international airport but they are also close to two international airports: Queenstown, NZ and Christchurch, NZ. While Queenstown is only a four hour drive from Timaru, the Christchurch International Airport is located only two hours away. Timaru Bike Polo promises to organize transportation from the Christchurch Airport to Timaru for all travelers not interested in renting a car.
Basing “Ease of Travel” simply on proximity to an international airport yields no difference in the two bids, so we will also look at plane tickets from two major airports in the USA (since the USA is on a continent not competing for the bid). We will look up flights from LA’s LAX and NYC’s JFK to Paris and Barcelona in early August and to Christchurch and Queenstown in late November, as these are the approximate times for the tournaments.
- LA – Paris, August 4 to August 11 = $1074
- NYC – Paris, August 4 to August 11 = $1011
- LA – Barcelona, August 4 to August 11 = $1171
- NYC – Barcelona, August 4 to August 11 = $1104
- LA – Christchurch, November 17 to November 24 = $1548
- NYC – Christchurch, November 17 to November 24 = $1948
- LA – Queenstown, November 17 to November 24 = $1616
- NYC – Queenstown, November 17 to November 24 = $2966
Before you instantly write off Timaru’s bid, note that these flights are just less than a year away so many airlines have not released flight information this far in advance; as the dates draw closer the prices will go down. Suffice it to say that this is also true for flights to Europe if Montpellier hosts Worlds.
If “Ease of Travel” means ease on your wallet, then Montpellier takes the lead in the bid wars.
Montpellier is offering fours courts at 40m x 20x (~ 131′ x 66′), while Timaru is offering three to four courts at 36m x 18m (~ 118′ by 59). Looking at the arguments on LoBP’s “WHBPC 2014 Bids” thread, most North American and European players seem too agree that 40m x 20m is the bare minimum for a major tournament (with many North American players arguing that 40m x 20x is even too small, and would like to see something closer to 44m x 22m (144′ x 72′) like in Weston). Either way, a majority of the poloverse feels that 36m x 18m just wont cut it for a world class tournament.
For the second time in a row, Montpellier’s bid tips the scale.
If we kept going down the census list, Cheap or Free Housing would be next on the list, but with a lack of solid information about accommodation from either bid, we can’t analyze this characteristic. Following that is Shelter from the Elements, which neither have covered courts but Timaru does have trees to hide under. Rounding out the end is Food, Access/Visibility to the Public, Destination City, and Parties. Both locations are close to many food options and are within popular public areas. The final two, without a doubt, go to Timaru. No one parties like Australia parties, so if they are part of the organization then we know that it will be a good time. And I dare you to watch any Lord of the Rings movie and not fall in love with the New Zealand landscape. I’ve seen Europe, now we want to see New Zealand firsthand!
Looking at a complete rundown, we see that both bids tip the scale in their favor for two characteristics, except Montpellier’s bids offer more of what we expect to find in a major tournament; Ease of Travel and Court Size. So using this analysis alone, we can be expecting to be heading back to Europe in 2014. I would love to see an Australasian bid for 2015 that offers a cheap travel (or maybe they can work out free housing to offset the plane ticket price) and courts that are several meters larger.