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GTS Mardi Gras Open Feb 22,23 2000
Alario Center, New Orleans, LA
Pro - Southern California Ironmen
Amateur - Naughty Dogs
Novice - Mox Nix
It's the GTS - Big Easy style. With roughly 100 teams gathering for paintball during carnival season in New Orleans it's a weekend of fun.
The official tournament hotel is the West Bank Travel Lodge located a few miles from the arena. A courtesy shuttle carries people from the hotel to the ferry crossing the mighty Mississippi river into the French Quarter of New Orleans known for its unique food, architecture, history, voodoo, and Bourbon street parties during carnival. After dark the city becomes a continuous party, where open containers of alcohol are legal on the street and pedestrians do not have the right of way in traffic.
At the Alario Center two Sup'Air fields were set up indoors surrounded by stadium seating. While some fields commented that the fields were a bit small in size, the action moved fast. The floor surface consisted of plastic like panels over hardwood topped with vinyl coated tarps. Clean up crews swept the fields between games clearing paint, but splatter still provided a few slick spots. Players had to be careful when running to a stop not to slip and overshoot their bunker, or touch the net, going out of bounds. Several teams hit the fields in stocking feet finding athletic socks to be the best for the surface. The indoor bunkers were the new vulcanized Sup'Air fields weighted into place with sandbags of the same material.
Outside, four more fields and staging areas for the teams completed the layout. The outdoor fields were the rip-stop nylon Sup'Air fields over grass.
The field PA system carried announcements though the field, trade show and staging areas, intermixed with fast paced modern rock and techno beat. The computer based DJ system also played high quality radio commercials for event sponsors lending a professional feel to the event.
Saturday afternoon, a light rain began falling. It was not enough to stop the outdoor games, just enough to cool the players down a bit. The rented tents for the staging area proved to be a wise investment.
By Saturday evening, games were behind schedule, and the decision was made to move the remaining games to Sunday, where a buffer of time was waiting in the schedule for such a situation.
Saturday night, the rain fell in earnest, but it did not slow down the revelry on Bourbon street.
Sunday morning teams began arriving early, walking fields, reviewing and previewing for the games ahead of them. Many were still looking for the best footwear solution to be used indoors. While the fields staff swept the tarp floor between games, broken paint formed a slick glaze around the most played bunkers. "We just don't have enough 'stiction,'" said Bill Abell of Avalanche. His plan was to play barefoot as some other players had figuring that traction would be just as poor as with socks, but at least he would feel how much paint had accumulated under his feet. The All Americans chose so combat the slick surface with neoprene socks slide testing them on Sunday morning. Some compared the indoor layout to playing on an ice hockey arena - the floor definitely changed the game.
Games progressed on Sunday to the Semifinal and Final rounds all of which were played on the outdoor fields. During the finals, the indoor fields were disassembled, and the trade show area was expanded and set up for the awards ceremony. Teams were awarded their prizes on the spot - equipment, including over 60 paintguns for the amateur and novice teams, and money for the pros.
Amongst the prize items were FreeFlow Autocockers from Professional Paintball, gear from Unique Sporting, Diablo paint, $2,000 JT team sponsorship deals, DYE Boomstick barrels, Shockers, LCD Angels, Dark LCD Angels, Center Flag compressed air systems, All American Barrels, and more.
The awards ceremony was filled with tired but smiling faces and began with several of the trade show vendors tossing Mardi Gras beads and bottles of Unique Pro Oil into the crowd. In the end, event promoter Steve Rabakoff, and his staff received a number of compliments on the event, many players saying it was especially well run considering it was their first of this scale.
The first place pro trophy and money went to the Southern California Ironmen, who edged out the All Americans for that title. The Naughty Dogs finished in first place amateur, while the Bushwackers came in second. Interestingly the first place amateur and pro winners from Skyball 2000 held just the week before the Mardi Gras Open took matching second place positions. Mox Nix topped the other novice teams followed by Texas Thunder Black.
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