Friday, December 2, 2011

NPPL in Vancouver, Canada

Canada eh? When I first saw the Event dates for the upcoming 2012 NPPL season on a local paintball forum here on Vancouver Island, I had to do a double take. I quickly went through my mind just to make sure I hadn't just woken up from a coma on April 1. I concluded that the poster was just trying to be funny. I went to the NPPL website for confirmation, but I'm not particularly familiar with the site, so I didn't find anything. Now I was more sure the whole thing was a joke. This morning I found news about it on PBN and somewhere found a link to the Pro Paintball website, where I saw the same thing posted. Right there, middle of the season, in the middle of July, the NPPL had added a 5th date, and sure enough it was Vancouver.

I think I subconsciously cocked my head sideways and stared at the screen, much the same way my new dog does when she doesn't quite understand a situation. So I am trying to rationalize what thought process the league organizers went through to make this move. Is this a bold move, where the owners are saying, screw you!? We are not going to shrivel up and die. No! We are going to move forward. As a matter of fact, we are expanding.

Canada, has some untapped market in the competitive speedball area, that for sure. A smaller portion of Canadians play than their American counterparts. Vancouver's competitive paintball scene is small, but I guess that doesn't really matter. The NPPL draws from a fairly large geographical area. I'm sure there will be teams from all over Canada wanting to compete in the first NPPL event held in Canada.

Is the fact that the BCPPL (a close equivalent format to the NPPL), which ran for several years here in British Columbia and cancelled all remaining events halfway through the 2011 season due to low participation, an indicator of popularity of competitive paintball in Canada?

Canada is a large, sparsely populated country. Flights between Canadian cities are much more costly than between equivalent US distanced US cities. But for a onetime event, I have a feeling, there will still be quite a number of Canadian entries, mostly in the lower divisions of course.

But how about our American cousins? Are we going to see as many American teams/players at the Vancouver event? Costs to fly to Canada are higher than flying to an American city. The option to fly to Seattle, rent a car and drive several hours to Vancouver exists. It complicates things a bit, but can save some money (cost more time though). It's still going to be considerably more expensive then if the event were held in Seattle though, for instance.

Then there is the border between Canada and the USA. I think it may be the largest undefended border in the world (not 100% sure about this). But that doesn't mean that you can just walk over the border without stopping (well unless you trek miles off into the mountains in the interior of BC, in which case you might have a chance of making it undetected, and don't run into a drug smuggler). Passports are needed now. How many American players do not have a passport? I'm going to guess that it is quite a few. Maybe not the pros, but I'm sure there are lots of players that play in the lower divisions that may not have a passport and may not want to go to the hassle of getting one. Also, I believe any sort of criminal record at all that a person might have, will make it much harder, and possibly impossible to cross. I'm sure there are very few paintball players with any sort of record though, all being the upstanding citizens we are. Anyway, I'm not convinced that the participation numbers are going to rank up there with other NPPL events.

Then there are the vendors. One of the concerns I hear from both players and people who seem to know a bit about running large paintball events is the drop of vendor participation at events. How will the greater distances, costs, and border crossing affect that part of the equation, especially if they feel the player participation will be lower as well?

But give the NPPL credit for having guts, if nothing else. I'm sure, if the Vancouver event goes forward, it will be an NPPL Lite event, with fewer participants by both players and industry types. But you never know, maybe it will tap into a market here in Canada that has been floundering for many years. Maybe it will inspire Canadian kids to get off the couch and get out there and spend their hard earned money to practice and get involved in the game. The local scene here of players, many who have played at least some BCPPL events in the past, are all aflutter. But I don't think a few locals that couldn't keep a relatively small tourney scene together will be what makes an NPPL event successful.

I wish the NPPL much luck in Vancouver, but my head is still cocked a little sideways.


  1. Wow, that really is bizarre. You'd think it would make more sense to host in Washington.

    Not that I'm complaining. I won't be competing, but I'll probably head over to watch!

  2. A lot of guys I know seem to be planning to play in this one, should be interesting.

  3. Pro events always draw fairly well from local geographies. But I bet there are probably 50 U.S. cities that have higher population densities than Vancouver and most likely much greater number of teams.

    The novelty aspect of the first NPPL event in Canada, will surely attract Canadian teams from a fair distance (heck it may very well be a once in a life time experience), but the border issues and higher travel costs for American teams will offset that I'm sure.

    Maybe if they advertised it as NPPL BC Budfest. That might make a difference with the demographic that normally attends paintball events.

  4. It's a silly decision, like many a NPPL call, that sounds so much better than the reality will turn out to be. The owner of Vancouver Vendetta used to run the BCPPL, if I'm not misremembering, and he's been pushing for an event since he got involved. It's an even worse decision if the BCPPL has folded due to lack of participation. The NPPL gets a free venue, gets to claim an international venue and in the process makes playing many degrees more expensive and difficult for the players--who they insist they are looking out for. As for turnout maybe Pev wants an event on the schedule even more poorly attended than his.
    And anyone who remembers Skyball, vendors in particular, will recall the immense hassle it often was getting product thru customs in a timely and efficient manner.
    Literal days after a merger encouraged and pressed by the industry failed the NPPL might as well be giving the Paintball establishment the finger on the home page of their website.

  5. Free venue in Vancouver? Is someone footing the bill for the NPPL venue in Vancouver? I know of no current establishment with anywhere near enough fields or even the room to expand for temporary fields. Possibly the Vendetta team owner will be emptying his car dealership for the weekend? I have been wondering where this might take place. I'm sure someone has a master plan. Maybe Mike Mc. will enlighten us (if he is allowed and has inside information).

  6. Okay, perhaps I jumped the gun but the NPPL is likely not to need more than room for two fields. And Vancouver makes even less sense if the league is gonna be out of pocket to produce an event there.

  7. I heard some rumours at the field yesterday that the NPPL might be looking at booking a beach venue. That would certainly be a cool event, but I don't hold out much faith that the city would allow it.

  8. Mike M never pushed for this event. The NPPL board decided they wanted to do a Canadian event. I know the Western Canadian and Northwest teams represent about +30% of NPPL divisional teams.

    I know Mike cancelled the last 2 BCPPL events because he was sick of it, and he was helping the NPPL.

  9. Russ, rumours...I don't pay them too much attention. If Vancouver is anything like Victoria, the chances of a paintball tournament happening on a beach seems pretty slim. Sandcastle contests are one thing, paintball tournaments are unfortunately seen in a totally different light around these parts. But then again, maybe painting out that Huntington Beach is fine with it, might be a good enough selling feature. I think it would be great, but it sounds like a long shot.

    Greg, are you privvy to NPPL board meetings, or is this hearsay?

    Why was Mike sick of it? I heard from some fairly reliable sources months before the plug was pulled, that without better participation, events would be cancelled. I don't blame Mike for not wanting to go on with an ill attended tournament series. I'd be sick of putting in that much effort without any reward as well. It'd the same reason nearly every paintball tournament series fails eventually. It's very difficult to make enough players happy to make it worthwhile. Often times it's not the tournament organizer's fault, as I have a feeling is the case in this instance. Everywhere, but in Canada even more so due to higher paint prices, it's very difficult to get enough players committed to making the sacrifices needed (time and money) to keep teams together.

  10. I am not privy, other than I know Mike quite well. He is not even sure of his own involvement in the NPPL this year, as he really is sick of paintball altogether. I think one of the guys in his group is going to manage the Pro team, and he is going to quit paintball completely.

    He did a heck of a job with the Bcppl, and hopefully it will come back one day.

  11. I agree that Mike did a decent job with the BCPPL. He definitely did more for the competitive paintball scene here in BC than anyone else in recent years He added a level of professionalism that surpassed previous efforts for sure. But unfortunately there are other factors at play that make a success of a competitive series difficult. Unfortunately, good intentions, hard work, and I'm going to guess, even throwing money at it, does not assure success.

  12. Rumour has it (yeah, I know I said I don't pay too much attention to rumours, but that doesn't mean I can't help spread them), that with the new format changes announced by the NPPL today, that there may not be any room for the Pump Division at NPPL events this year. If that is true, there go about half the Canadian teams that were thinking about heading to Vancouver in July. Okay, maybe not half, but I heard more chatter about the Pump division than anything else (might be the company I keep).

  13. Maybe there will be that much more demand from hungry players in Western Canada to play an event with the CXBL pulling out of Western Canada.