The season kicks off with the US Open, set for July 4-7 in Raleigh, North Carolina. The event will take place at the WRAL Soccer Center, which will hold showcase games in a 3,000 person stadium. The format will be 24 teams — 12 North American, 12 International — across the three divisions.
Many of the other Triple Crown tournaments, as expected, will be held at legacy events like Terminus (Pro/Elite Challenge), Philly Invite (Mixed Pro/Elite Challenge), Labor Day (Pro Flight Finale), and Colorado Cup (Elite/Select Challenge). The mixed flight Elite/Select Challenge location has not yet been announced.
Some popular tournaments from years past were left out, including the Chesapeake Invite and the Emerald City Classic.
The location for the Club Championships has also not been announced. It is widely expected to be somewhere in southern California, after USA Ultimate’s contract with Sarasota ended in 2012.
“Now that the dates and locations are set for the regular season and an announcement related to Nationals is just around the corner, our focus will now turn towards finalizing and announcing our broadcast plans,” said USA Ultimate Director of Marketing and Communications Andy Lee in a statement. “We anticipate making one very exciting announcement related to broadcast in the very near future, and are also accepting and reviewing bids to supplement and complement our national broadcast coverage with as much additional live streaming and digital content as possible in order to meet the primary goal in our new strategic plan.”
In an interview with Ultiworld last week, USA Ultimate CEO Tom Crawford emphasized the “blended approach” to media coverage for the Triple Crown Tour. “Our plan has always been with the Triple Crown Tour to cover it and get exposure through a blended broadcast system,” he said. “So it’s not just going to be nationally broadcast with a TV partner, but rather a blended approach where there’s streaming and national broadcast so we get as much exposure as we possibly can, with an emphasis on the US Open and the National Championship.”
Yesterday, USA Ultimate also released their club season guidelines, which lay out the season, roster rules, tournament structures, and general rules for the season.
Many of the guidelines are similar to past seasons, but below we will list some of the more noteworthy new changes.
- As USA Ultimate announced in a live chat with Ultiworld in November, Pro and Elite Flight teams, as well as the top Select Flight team in each region, must participate in their respective regular season tournaments to be eligible for the postseason.
- “In 2013, placement at Nationals will determine qualification for the 2014 WFDF World Ultimate Club Championships.” This means there is, at least for now, no chance that an alternative system will be in place for allocating bids to the WUCC. While expected, this isn’t good news for the proposed NexGen league.
- Pro, Elite, and top Select flight teams must commit to the Triple Crown Tour by February 15th, two weeks from today. Top men’s teams invited to join the NexGen League have yet to announce their intentions. We will certainly know by then.
- Roster rule: “No player may be on more than one Regular Season (or series) roster at the same time.”
- Roster rule: “No player who has been removed from a Regular Season roster may be added back to that same roster after playing with another team in the Men’s, Mixed, or Women’s divisions during the Regular Season (or series).” This explicitly avoids conflict with the professional leagues.
- Pro/Elite rostering rule: “A Pro or Elite team must retain a minimum of 7 players from the prior season in order to retain the team’s identity and flight status.”
- Pro/Elite rostering rules: “If a Pro or Elite team is returning the next year, a ‘new’ team in the same division may not have more than 7 players from that team’s roster the prior year, in order to be eligible for the Post Season Championship Series.” That rule, in combination with this (“If a Pro or Elite team is not returning the next year, a ‘new’ team in the same division may not have more than 7 players from that team’s roster the prior year, in order to be eligible for the Post Season Championship Series.”), disallows teams from disbanding and forming a new, similar team to avoid having to play in the Triple Crown required regular season events.
- Split squad rule: “If a Pro, Elite, or Select team splits into two teams and both wish to retain the team’s flight status earned the prior year, the team with the most returning players will be recognized as the returning team. The returning players used in the analysis will be required to be on the roster for that team for the season.”
- Rules quiz: “Teams participating in the National Championships will be required to have a representative from their team take and successfully pass a rules quiz. The quiz will cover basic rules questions, cap rules, and observer applications. Completion of this quiz is mandatory for all teams attending the 2013 National Championships.”
The full club guidelines document is available below: