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4 large clubs in the SF bay area, can we fill them all?

Discussion in 'USA West' started by kwun, May 16, 2005.

  1. kwun

    kwun Administrator

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    unless you've been in hiding, you should know that soon the SF Bay Area will have 4 large dedicated badminton clubs, they are, in opening order:

    Bintang Badminton Academy in Sunnyvale
    United Badminton Club in Fremont
    Golden Gate Badminton Club in Menlo Park
    Smash City Badminton Club in Milpitas

    each of them provides at least 8 badminton courts along with training classes.

    while having these clubs are good for us badminton players, we cannot help to wonder if there are too many of them. Bintang was the first, the owner Phu has the vision and went into action nearly 2 years ago with a small 3 courts facility in Mountain View, and later moved to a 11 courts facility in Sunnyvale. Bintang then has became the place to go with fully packed gym almost every day of the week.

    however, after UBC opened in April, i have been to Bintang in a couple of occasions and i must say that the number of players in Bintang has decreased noticably. there are now court openings in a week day night or a weekend day time, something that was unheard of before in Bintang.

    the trend is not very promising as two more clubs are scheduled to be opening in the coming months which will surely dilute the number of attendees in all the clubs further.

    as a badminton player, we of course like to see more badminton clubs, and of course none of us wants any of these clubs to go into financial problem due to poor attendance.

    what do you think we can do to help out these clubs? certainly we can go play there to play more, a category in which i am guilty of recently. but what else can we do?

    the cruel fact is simply this, and i think many will agree: there simply isn't enough badminton players in the bay area right now to support 4 large clubs.

    i know owners of those clubs also frequent this forum, it will be interesting to hear what they have to say about this issue. it is something that i am sure they are aware of and will certainly have a close interests in.

    having posed the question, here is something i think can help solve the problem:

    what i would like to see is the cooperation between clubs. in Europe, there are many more clubs within a much smaller population area. there are healthy competition between these clubs and they all managed to survive well.

    things that i can see can be done:

    • competition on court - setup intraclub league. each club have coaches and teams. i know Bintang has a team, and UBC also has a team. i am pretty sure SmashCity will have one and GGBC may also as well. club owners can cooperate with each other to set up a league each year. i know 4 is a small number for a league, with home and away game, 6 weekends will exhaust all combinations for league match up. but if we ranked the team and then set up semi and finals (like the Sudirman cup), we can extend the matches to 8 or 9 weekends. which is a decent length for a league.
    • to further the idea, more teams can be added to the system, have more types of league, junior+senior, and then add more teams, outsiders will certainly happy to see teams.
    • badminton promotion - having clubs work together to promote badminton. if clubs only promote themselves, they are bearing the promotion cost alone, with limited funding, there is only so much they can do. if 4 clubs comes together to promote badminton, much more can be done with the combined funding. maybe a TV commercial in the local channel? there are channels (KTSF comes to mind) who are geared toward the Asian population, in which most of the badminton players are. and nothing stops them from advertising in the more general TV stations either (though i think KTSF probably cheaper)
    anything else? i think all the owners of the club are doing it because they love the sport of badminton (i cannot imagine otherwise) and all can help further their love of the game by working together.
     
  2. cooler

    cooler Regular Member

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    well, I applaud them for their entrepreneurship.
    we often debated how to get badminton more popular, this chicken & egg debate. Well, here we have some people putting money at the egg level instead waiting for the chicken (media & big name sponsors, those big fat chicken) to come around.
     
  3. Winex West Can

    Winex West Can Regular Member

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    I am sure that after everything is settled, you will find folks staying as regulars at one club and going to the others as they feel the need. The thing is that when Bintang was the only one, folks from around the Sillicon Valley area are coming and now with the new clubs opening closer to home (for some), these clubs will take away some of these clientele but not to say that is bad. Some folks will travel to play in an atmosphere where they fit in.

    The idea of interclub league is very good and should be encouraged.
     
  4. ctjcad

    ctjcad Regular Member

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    Allow me to put my 2 cents in on this..
    Personally I feel you guys up north are very, VERY, lucky to have 4 full-time, dedicated badminton clubs within proximities of each other..In comparison to the badminton clubs down here in L.A., where we *only* have 3 full-time dedicated clubs-SGVBC and OCBC and MBBC(which is private)..Add to that the 3 new clubs up north in the bay area are BRAND NEW...

    I kind of agree with Kwun's ideas to a certain extent, but let me add my suggestions. Looking at those 4 clubs and the proximity of them all, I have just 2 ideas, this is just for "long term" purposes:

    1. PRICE. Make it affordable and reasonable and people will come. Don't make it so "high-end" that regular people who doesn't know anything about the sport will find it "unfriendly" to play in. For intents and purposes, I know these clubs have quite an expensive operational costs. What I would do, which unfortunately might not be popular, is somewhat similar to what Kwun suggested. Have all clubs be a semi-joint venture. Since the market up there is scarce but growing itself, maybe they could join and promote the sports itself first and foremost. How? instead of individual clubs' profit, the way to do it is to make the price reasonable AND attractive. Say, 4x a month, there could be promotional FREE nights. There's another club in OCBC, but the fee to play there is very expensive, thus the club is not as popular to play for the public as SGVBC. The key is, you have to put people in there to play, as the goal should be to popularize badminton as much as possible.

    2. ACCESSIBILITY/AVAILABILITY. I'm talking about long-term success. This idea might sound unpopular also, but maybe the clubs could offer FREE lessons to young kids or beginner players. Go out there to parks or public schools or shopping malls and give out promotion flyers and put ads inviting non-badminton people/kids to come along and play for free. Include FREE lessons also for Beginners. Once they're familiar with it, then they'll be more advance/intermediate and if they want to become members, then they can be charge membership fee and so forth. Because if you guys think about it, there are soccer, basketball, baseball and other sports to compete with. You have public parks all over the place having free open courts for people to play for FREE as recreational activities.

    Anyway, those are just my ideas..

     
    #4 ctjcad, May 16, 2005
    Last edited: May 16, 2005
  5. Totoro800OF

    Totoro800OF Regular Member

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    4 badminton clubs

    I agree with ctjcad. I have been trying to figure out long ago why Badminton is not popular in the US. I believe it is money. First the sport is expensive for the "normal" people. A feather shuttle is $1 and last you half a game. Then there is the cost of the playing field, at least $3 on average. Compare to Tennis, this is expensive. A tennis ball last forever in comparison to a shuttle. Free tennis fields are everywhere. Then there is the good money in the Tennis tournaments.

    I think Bintang is doing the right thing to promote the sport. Get the entry fee of the place to be cheap, so more entry level player will start playing. Also, with the recent FREE training for kids is a great idea. Maybe even a free/or cheap entry level Badminton clinic for adult. In order to feed all these new clubs, we need new blood. However, charging sky high for the sport will not draw new blood.

    I admire all these people that have the courage and the love of Badminton to spend time and money to open these new facilities. However, I hope they do more to promote the sport by attracting more players to sustain their operations. It will be sad to see these clubs go away in a few years because of lack of money.

    For now, UBC and Bintang are okay. I see UBC as a higher class facility where people who want better floor and cleaner surrounding will go. Bintang is a better place for beginner because Bintang charge a lower fee.

    GG is going to be another high class facility with fee equal or higher than UBC. Smash city is unknown for now, but it's location is too close to UBC and Bintang. It's dilution affect is worrisome.

    I just pray to the Badminton god that they can all survive.


     
  6. Qidong

    Qidong Regular Member

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    Another suggestion is to talk to companies in the bay area and help set up inter-company badminton league. Like my company, I play in a inter-company tennis league which is held in a country club. Each team needs to play for $800 per season, but it's paid by the company. The coordinator from time to time will boardcast message to the whole company to recruit players. There are a lot of people in my company who like to badminton but don't know about these 4 clubs. The inter-company badminton league will help advertise the sport within the company.
     
    #6 Qidong, May 18, 2005
    Last edited: May 18, 2005
  7. HoustonRockets

    HoustonRockets Regular Member

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    Demand cause supply
    I hope we have a few more in southern california
     
  8. pelegri

    pelegri Regular Member

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    We need to get more kids to play the sport, including kids from families without a badminton culture. Starting from middle school, not waiting to high school. I think we could make that happen with a combination of exhibition games at school, training for school coaches during the summer, and some sort of league between the different gyms.

    The World Championship in Anaheim is a great opportunity to get this started.

    Badminton is a great sport for kids; very easy to pick-up, but very challenging to play very well. My son is a 6th grader and really loves it. Phu organized a short league for middle-schoolers at Bintang recently and my son recruited several kids from his class - they all really liked it.

    I think it would be useful to set up some coordination group that includes people from the different gyms.

    And yes, I'm willing to put some hours to help :)
     
  9. MonarchPryde

    MonarchPryde Regular Member

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    I do hope that all these badminton clubs do last forever and good luck to al lthe clubs. I think its a good idead of kwun to have club meets it makes it more competitive and makes others determine to beat the other club. Im a high school baddy person and i would go to UBC more often but the price of the entry scares me away! I think if you want to let badminton grow, you need to expose others to it. With a $7 drop in fee it scares most high schoolers away! If you think about it, most high school players (that i know) love the sport and have the desire to play to imporve their game. But (like i have said before) most of us do not work and get our money from our parents and if we did work we only get paid minium wage and thats $6.75! I believe most of us would want a gym membership but how we going to get the money to pay for it? Our money is from our parents and thats like paying for ANOTHER Cell phone bill if we get the membership. What i am trying to get through is that if you want badminton to grow, there should be some sort of middle/high school student discount, so more students can play. I think it will grow because theres at least 20+ high schools in the Bay Area and each consist of atleast 2000 students at the most part. If they fees were lower we can have much more students playing to fill up the club! But as of right now the fee is sort of high, well atleast UBC is.
     
  10. samkool

    samkool Regular Member

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    i am a bit surprised their is no under 18 discount.

    even a $2 discount, from $7 to $5, would be more than made up for on volume.
     
  11. julie

    julie Regular Member

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    To be fair, Bintang charges $5 drop-in. Better facilities, e.g. UBC or GG,
    should be able to charge more, I'd think :confused: As far as student promotion
    goes, they do have non-prime time that typical working class can't use,
    but students (at least high school) would be able to:confused:. The best I can see is maybe they can extend this period to 6-7 pm instead of 5:00 pm.

    Some random thoughts, hopefully some would be useful (a lot of good ideas had been mentioned in previous posts):
    • Maybe the discount package can offer more flexibility. That's instead of a monthly pass, how about a pass that offer N number of entries over a longer period. This gives people more leeway, and could encourage more "attendance".
    • I like UBC's Saturday short-term clinics. Not everyone wants to be the next Chen Hong, or make it into National Team. This encourages people to make gradual incremental improvements to their games (the parts that interested them the most). This also develops a new revenue stream for the club.
    • Try to round up players from the smaller facilities or multi-purpose gymns. There're only so many players around, at least in the short term. The multi-purpose gymns presumably can convert those badminton times to other sports. What else can you do in a badminton gymn other than badminton?
    • Help players find partners. Don't know how many people decide not to go because they are afraid no one wants to pair up with him/her. How about assigning dedicated court(s) for Mixed Doubles only. This's only an extension of the Singles only courts. And some people might like to play Mixed Doubles and need to use the partner finding program?
    • Provide special services to schools, e.g. subcontract out coaches to coach school programs.
    • To follow up one idea before - contact companies to setup company sponsored memberships.
    • Develop the under-served kids market. Parents will send their kids (3-6 years old) to learn gymnastics, karate, pianos. What about badminton? Can sensible/fun programs be derived to give these kids orientation, a head start so to speak? Perhaps focus on footworks to begin with.
    • League play is a good idea. How about a Thomas/Uber cup like idea? Club can do internal selection and then send their best team to compete with other clubs for the ultimate glory - a cup. But I think the fee charged in some club (at least for member) seems a bit high?
    • Hope they won't enage in any price war; it could be a downward spiral.
     
  12. TrunkZ69

    TrunkZ69 Regular Member

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    I think the fee is resonable.... i mean most parents are just being cheap when they won't pay for a gym membership. Many parents spend thousands of dollars for their children to pay other sports. I don't think their is a problem on filling up gyms though because... just seeing say about 10 different students from 2-3 HS in a gym at once fills the gym up very quickly. I was at UBC the other night and it was packed... just because about 10-15 kids from a few different HS came. Their will only be so many adults playing at one time, but their is always a huge HS badminton population hiding, mainyl because of lack of knowledge of open gyms or just not that drive to play more. Once they start getting dragged on by their friends, im sure they'll be hook and go more often. I think the 4 gyms will fill out nicely. BTW i heard from a few different people that GGBC is going for more lessons than open gym, any conformation on this? Very possible because they are suppose to have a nice flooring system, and open gym players tend to be the roughest on the floor due to many beginners sneaking in with shoes that don't belong...
     
  13. Qidong

    Qidong Regular Member

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    As a father myself, I don't have problem paying my daughter's badminton membership. But I will hestitate to give her a cell phone which I think is a luxury. :)
     
    #13 Qidong, May 19, 2005
    Last edited: May 19, 2005
  14. ctjcad

    ctjcad Regular Member

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    Hmm, this post 'adds' more to my opinions above...Basically as you noted, price is one issue and the other is 'lack of knowledge of open gyms'..The thing is, badminton is not a "popular/mainstream" sport in the U.S...Then imagine badminton, a not-so-popular sport, charging entrance fee and so forth and there are membership fees etc....
    In comparison, basketball, baseball, soccer, tennis, even volleyball and swimming have much more followers than badminton-what makes some of them even more "attractive" is the public parks around the cities/communities provide those avenues and 'accessibility/availability' for FREE...

    Now, as a non-badminton person who doesn't know much about the sports at all, how can he/she be interested(long-term) and enjoy the game(long-term) realizing that he/she *'must* pay beforehand to play or learn whilst he/she can enjoy other sport/recreational activities for FREE or even less cost...
    But it's true, I agree that it must start from schools earlier on, teach the young ones about the sport...Even junior colleges is still OK as they can instill and start their own program..

    adding more of my 2 cents..:).

     
    #14 ctjcad, May 19, 2005
    Last edited: May 19, 2005
  15. Totoro800OF

    Totoro800OF Regular Member

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    Julie has very good points maybe later Kwun should compile a list of all the suggestions and pass it out to the various gyms founders. A minor adjustment regarding the non-prime time is the current non-prime time is from 10-3PM which is NOT for student while they are in school. This time slot is more for working people sneaking out from work:) A better time for student is immediately after school, say from 3-6PM.


     
  16. wooden_racket

    wooden_racket Regular Member

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    The new gyms opening is definitely going to cause some unrest for the existing gyms. People always want to try out the "new", "much talked about" things. However, when the dust settles, people will trickle back to wherever they feel the most comfortable, and in the case of badminton, wherever they have the most fun. I have been to all the gyms and talked to many of the people who play there, and it seems that each gym draws a different crowd. (Of course there will always be those who hop around and play wherever they feel like playing.)

    But just doing some quick math, UBC has 9 courts (2 of which they reserve for training up until 7:30 and 2 which are for singles). In that case, it takes 4 + 20 = 24 people to fill up their courts and make their gym look full. On the other hand, BBA has 11 courts (1 of which is for singles), so it takes 2 + 40 = 42 people to fill up their courts and make their gym look full. That is almost double the number of people! In that perspective, UBC can look a lot more crowded, but in reality, have only the same if not less people attending.

    I was just at Bintang last night and it was pretty packed. All the courts were full and the waiting areas were almost full as well. I saw a lot of new faces and people whom I've never seen before (at any of the gyms). It's a sign that more people are picking up the sport and that's a great thing. I spoke with Phu briefly and he mentioned that there has been a lot of new players showing up. With even more gyms opening up within the next few months, it will take everyone more work to uncover new players and create the demand. It will be interesting to sit back a year from now and see what has become of badminton in the Bay Area.
     
  17. dzz12345

    dzz12345 New Member

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    Address to UBC in Fremont and SCBC in Milpitas

    Can someone leave the address to the above mentioned clubs here? New to this forum and am looking for a place to play.
     
  18. krantikt

    krantikt Regular Member

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    Go to forums->places to play->usa west

    and you will see sticky notes for each fo the four clubs mentioned.


     
  19. kwun

    kwun Administrator

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    wooden_racket,

    i very much agree with you.

    from the reaction of guys in my gang, the 3 largest concerns of gym choices seems to be location, cost and court quality. some balk at the higher offered cost of US$5+ dollars for drop-in. it is a higher cost than what most people pay now, which is US$5 (in Bintang). but to be fair, US$5-10 for a whole afternoon of entertainment is actually quite cheap when compared to others. i don't even know how much a 18-hole golf course will cost, but my guess is it will be 10x of that, and not to mention that golf offers 1% the amount of exercise when compared to badminton.

    location-wise, the 4 gyms will be covering the bay-area fairly well, with GGBC covering the northern-side of the peninsula, UBC covering east bay, and then Bintang and SmashCity covering the south.

    it is good to see that the pioneer Bintang is seeing a good turn out. to be honest, Phu's gym does provide a cheap and friendly entry into badminton for the casual player. the atmosphere is friendly and the owners are as well. perhaps in the future when there are more availability of courts, the casual beginners won't feel as initimidated stepping into a badminton court as they used to.

    many of us have predicted and worried about the feasbility of having many more gyms, and it looks like it may be turning out fine. the starting of summer vacation for students should also provide a good strong start for the new gyms.
     
  20. Qidong

    Qidong Regular Member

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    To me, Bintang (Sunnyvale) and SmashCity (Milipitas) are still considered north because I live in South San Jose quite near Morgan Hill. I need to drive 25 miles from my house to Bintang or SmashCity. There is a community center open Friday night for badminton, but it is so crowded. I wish someone will consider open one in the south. :)
     

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