USA Ultimate Announces the Triple Crown Tour
Posted: October 22, 2012 05:30 PM
New Competitive Structure for Top-Level Ultimate Designed to Showcase the Sport and Provide Playing Opportunities while Featuring North America’s Best Athletes, Teams and Events
Boulder, Colo. (October 22, 2012)—USA Ultimate, the national governing body for the sport of Ultimate in the United States, announced details of a new competitive structure designed to both showcase the sport of Ultimate at the highest level and provide an inclusive playing environment for all teams and athletes.
The USA Ultimate Triple Crown Tour begins in 2013 and will feature North America’s best teams, athletes and events in the Men’s, Women’s and Mixed Divisions.
The Triple Crown Tour is designed to achieve several goals with both athletes and fans in mind. It will provide more meaningful and accessible playing opportunities for teams, stimulate participation and growth, and showcase the sport of Ultimate at its best – all significant components of USA Ultimate’s newly launched 2013-2018 Strategic Plan.
The new competitive structure, which was developed primarily through feedback from USA Ultimate athletes and teams, the Ultimate community, and various committees and focus groups over the course of the last two years, was approved by the USA Ultimate Board of Directors earlier this summer.
"We began this restructuring initiative more than 30 months ago, and we are pleased and excited to announce this new competitive structure as an important component of our six-year Strategic Plan," said USA Ultimate CEO Dr. Tom Crawford. "After two-and-a-half years and a great deal of input from teams, athletes, coaches and the community at large, we believe we have a plan for everyone. The Triple Crown Tour takes our sport to a new level, and over the next few years will move us onto a much bigger stage in the world of sports."
Teams competing in the Triple Crown Tour will be divided into four competitive tiers (Flights) based on results from the previous season. The top eight teams will be awarded a spot in the Pro Flight, while the next eight teams will compete in the Elite Flight. A maximum of 32 teams (four per geographic region) will be included in the Select Flight, and an unlimited number of remaining teams will be slotted into the Classic Flight.
Throughout the summer and fall, teams will compete in a structured Regular Season and Postseason format with an opportunity to win the three major components of the Triple Crown – the U.S. Open Ultimate Championships, the Pro Flight Regular Season, and the National Championships.
Regular Season sanctioned events will begin in June, while the U.S. Open Ultimate Championships in July will serve as the first of several Pro Flight events on the Triple Crown Tour. The Regular Season continues with various Flight-specific and cross-Flight Challenge events, as well as sanctioned USA Ultimate tournaments, providing a formal structure in which all teams will compete. The Regular Season is then followed by the Postseason, consisting of Sectional Playoffs, Regional Playoffs and the National Championships.
Teams performing well throughout the Triple Crown Tour will be rewarded for performance with a variety of incentives, including prize money for winning each of the three components, a bonus for winning the Triple Crown, byes to the Regional Playoffs, wildcards to Nationals, an invitation to the U.S. Open and more.
Unlike any sporting structure in the world, the Triple Crown Tour is accessible to any team. And while only four teams per division are eligible to win the Triple Crown in any given year, the structure features a promotion and relegation dynamic that allows teams to play their way into the Pro Flight and Triple Crown contention over time.
"The Triple Crown Tour builds on the existing community of players, teams and events while enhancing the competitive experience and creating opportunities to take Ultimate’s visibility to the next level," explained USA Ultimate Managing Director of Competition and Athlete Programs Will Deaver. "Similar to structures like English soccer, yet completely unique in its own right to Ultimate, the system builds excitement for the sport and opportunities for player and team development at the highest level in every community. The Tour’s two-pronged focus on accessibility and showcasing the sport at its best makes for a strong and effective way to advance the sport of Ultimate. We look forward to working with teams, events and community organizers throughout the country to make the Triple Crown Tour a huge success."
The tournament format of the Triple Crown Tour gives existing and future fans the opportunity to watch world-class Ultimate at fan-friendly venues around the country on a consistent basis. Compelling storylines and statistical analysis centered around athletes, teams and events will help create geographic loyalty and a regular following of Ultimate’s most notable stars and personalities.
"From a marketing perspective, the new USA Ultimate Triple Crown Tour allows us to position the sport and present it in a way unlike ever before," commented USA Ultimate Director of Marketing and Communications Andy Lee. "This structure immediately makes our sport more attractive to fans, television and new media broadcast partners and sponsors, which in turn gives us a major opportunity to increase the visibility of Ultimate and accomplish the number-one goal in our new Strategic Plan."
USA Ultimate’s National Championships in Sarasota, Fla. Oct. 25-28 will set the stage for the 2013 season with the top eight teams in each division qualifying for the Pro Flight and the bottom eight teams earning a spot in next season’s Elite Flight.