Anyone who has ever been in the bridge club business knows what a grind it is. Profit margins are small, and in dense markets bridge players often have other low-cost options available (sometimes as low as $2 or $3 a session). My mother's bridge club, "Hazel's Bridge Club", was one of the most successful clubs in the ACBL last year with 8,326 tables. Despite that total, ranking 21st amongst all ACBL sanctioned clubs, she works 14 sessions a week to make a modest living.
Recently, her small profit margin has been affected by a regional tournament epidemic. From Sept 2011 to April 2012 three regional tournaments have been scheduled within 15 miles of her club. Each time these tournaments run, her table counts get so low that she is forced to close the club or run Howell movements. In many ways having the regionals so close is quite nice, but one week less of income makes it tough to pay the rent that month. Here are the dates and distances of the regionals:
5.7 miles from Hazel's Bridge Club
9.6 miles from Hazel's Bridge Club
13.8 miles from Hazel's Bridge Club
Regionals aren't the only tournaments which cause her to lose business. Sectionals also greatly affect her weekend table counts. I bring this up because I wonder if bridge clubs have any recourse in these matters. Can anything be done to help clubs survive through these tournaments? Should the ACBL be using more clubs for sectionals and perhaps even regionals so the clubs can get exposure and revenue? Has this problem been specific to Toronto? I would love to hear other people's thoughts.
Plus... it's free!