Nobody is mentioning the obvious upside to this decision, which is the fact that this will be located right in the center of a downtown. I love Chicago, but Rosemont is not Chicago. I attended both the ICT and the HSNCT last year and got the distinct impression that very few teams went Downtown. If people are not leaving the hotel, then I really do not understand the downside of Atlanta. If people are leaving the hotel, then the Atlanta location is clearly preferable.
The only downside of this decision would seem to be the fact that less teams will be able to drive to Atlanta and they will need to fly more staffers in. NAQT has clearly determined that they should be fine with the staffer situation, so that is really a non issue. While there are probably a few more teams that drive into Chicago than would drive into Atlanta, I cannot imagine that the net difference is more than ten teams. Atlanta has very cheap airfare and, being the busiest airport in the world, it is very accessible.
The upside to this move would seem to be tremendous. It allows teams from the South that cannot go to Chicago the chance to experience a national tournament, hopefully helping to advance the Southern circuit. It also gives variety to coaches and staffers who are tired of going to the same location. Most importantly, though, it is at an awesome hotel with an awesome location. Instead of having, what, half a dozen restaurants within walking distance, there will be several hundred. The same can be said for attractions, with Turner Field, the Georgia Aquarium, the CNN Center, Coca Cola World, and Centennial Olympic Park all being within walking distance. I know I am probably sounding like a travel brochure, but I really found the Rosemont location very frustrating for its lack of area entertainment. My personal feeling is that if I am going to spend a long weekend travelling far away (not to mention a large sum of money), I at least deserve to have an experience I couldn't have in any city in the country. Having stayed in both locations (Hyatt Atlanta and O'Hare), it is pretty clear to me that Atlanta is the much more unique experience.
I am fairly surprised by the negative reaction to this announcement. To me, it is pretty obvious that the positives outweigh the negatives in this decision. Hopefully, NAQT will make a pattern out of holding nationals in more central locations (within the city).
Buffalo Grove High School '09