National Championships in my home town

As a resident of Las Vegas I am very pleased that USA Team Handball has chosen my adopted home town as the site for this year’s National Championship tournament (21-23 May). Some might even theorize that a leading Handball proselytizer such as I consider myself to be may have been lobbying behind the scenes for Sin City. No, I played no such role although I have indicated to USA Team Handball a willingness to help out and will try and get a local team entered in the tourney.

In reality, I’ve actually been more of a proponent for combining our National Championships with this summer’s Poland v. Germany friendly in Chicago on July 17th. Last year I lobbied hard to have the National Championships combined with the French club Final Four in Miami. My logic then, as now, is that if your community is not very large it’s better to have two marquee events at the same time and the same place. It’s doubtful as to whether the extra 500 or so fans would have made much of a difference attendance wise in Miami, but it still would have been great for the younger players to see high level handball first hand. While a July Nationals was 2 months later than normal, I would have preferred to combine the events. But apparently, I was in the minority as the community spoke up, the Federation listened, and now we have Vegas.

And it’s a good choice, in my opinion. Even if the economy has hit our city hard, there’s still no other place in the country (arguably the world) that can provide better hospitality and accommodations at reasonable prices. Air fares are relatively low and lodging deals are the best they’ve been in years. Factor in the Gaming (aka Gambling), dining options and the high quality shows the city offers and few people need an excuse to come visit.

Team Handball, certainly isn’t the only sport that recognizes this. Two NCAA basketball conferences (MWC, WCC) already stage their post season tourneys here and a 3rd (WAC) will join the party next year. The National Finals Rodeo invades the town every year and you’ve never seen more cowboy hats outside the state of Texas. Not my cup of tea, but this past February I enjoyed another minor sports invasion as the Rugby 7’s World circuit came to town. You’ve never seen more Commonwealth members (Brits, South Africans, Kiwis and Aussies) and Pacific Islanders outside those home countries.

Which leads me to conclude that perhaps this is only the first major Team Handball event to be staged in Las Vegas. If Kiwis and Brits can come watch rugby here in the desert, why not Handball. It’s only a matter of time before we see a European Handball invasion. I’m thinking an EHF Final Four, say in May 2012. Maybe we’ll schedule Nationals in Vegas again, so everybody can attend both events.

THN (15 Oct 08): U.S. National Championships in Miami: Just Make it So:
Las Vegas Review Journal (15 Feb 10): Rugby a passion play for U.S. team: