Dear 8 pound 6 ounce newborn baby Jesus, please let me win Powerball. If money was no object, I would build the perfect permanent cornhole venue. At some point or another, all of us cornhole fanatics have daydreamed or fantasized about that elusive venue; one where cornhole rules supreme, with the perfect cornhole layout that covers all of our cornhole desires and is devoid of all the things we dislike about our current venues. I’m going to paint the picture of my perfect venue. Just remember there is not much about my fantasy venue that will ever come to fruition unless I come into a lot of money. But a man is allowed to dream, right? Please feel free to salivate at will.

Dream with me about the “Cornhole Venue of Dreams”

Picture this: the outside entrance actually goes to the second level (think TopGolf). The lower level (or first floor, only accessible from inside the venue) is a wide open space that can accommodate 12-15 courts. Not just courts crammed into the space wherever they will fit, but spacious courts with room in between, so stepping out never interferes with an adjacent court. Around the outer perimeter of the overall court area and completely separated from any actual court is a dedicated walkway with plenty of room to walk and NEVER interfere with live action. There are restrooms at both ends and bleachers surrounding the entire court area. On one side in the middle and slightly elevated sits the control table. On the walls between levels 1 and 2 and at both ends of each court are large score screens that coincide with the score tablets at each court.

The second level is a balcony that surrounds and overlooks the lower court area. On one side and away from the overlook is a bar. A full bar. Long with plenty of bar seating and LOTS of TVs, some with live cornhole happening downstairs and some with football games, baseball games, etc. All around the overlook are high-top tables with views of the cornhole action down below, and with views of the previously-mentioned score screens between levels. Restrooms are located at both ends as well. There’s a third level too. The layout is the same as level 2, minus the bar and high-top tables. Level 3 is pretty much empty. Restrooms are there at both ends. Level 3 only exists to provide space for practice courts and, when necessary, additional tournament courts. The entire venue has a sound system tapped into the control table so match announcements are heard throughout. Since this is my fantasy, somehow there is a huge screen visible from everywhere that displays the overall tournament bracket(s). I guess I should at least start playing Powerball, huh? Gotta be in it to win it.

Back to Reality: Keep your “Cornhole Eyes” Peeled for Potential Venues

Cornhole players don’t have to worry much about venues, for the most part, unless they are in an area with very limited cornhole activity. They can pick and choose the events they play, with venue being a factor if it matters to them. On the flip side, as the leader of a group or as an event host, the search for proper venues can be EXHAUSTING. If you are part of a group that has a great venue or multiple great venues, thank your group leader(s) for being able to lock those venues down. Trust me when I say it isn’t easy. Think about it, a regulation cornhole court is 35’ long by 8’ wide. Figure out how many courts you want and do the math. And that’s just for court space, nevermind sitting space, walking space, space for the control table, and parking. And don’t forget about what is a deal killer a lot of times – CEILING HEIGHT!@ A good venue has to meet a lot of specific criteria. Give respect to those that have sought out and found spots that meet that criteria.

I have developed a “condition” of sorts lately. I call it “cornhole eyes”. Cornhole eyes is when I’m pretty much anywhere: restaurant, grocery store, department store…and I find myself sizing the place up as a cornhole venue. It now happens all day every day, and I find myself thinking about places I haven’t been to in a while and running them through my cornhole eyes memory. Not that I expect to host events in a grocery store, I just look at things from a cornhole perspective now. When I AM at a place that would be conducive to an event, I go into sales mode, which brings me to my next point.

Negotiating to Secure Your Cornhole Venue

Even though most of us don’t run groups and host events to make a profit, a cornhole group or entity is very much like a business. There needs to be a hierarchy. There needs to be structure. There needs to be organization. How you present yourself and your group to the decision makers of a potential venue is PARAMOUNT to your success in adding that venue to your venue rotation or as your primary spot. Unless, of course, said venue is owned by a friend or relative or you already have an inside contact there. The perfect situation is one that involves a trade: you receive the use of their space and they receive a good size crowd of people, people that typically wouldn’t be there, to spend money at their establishment. This is in lieu of you paying a fee to use their spot. A place that serves food and alcohol is 100% ideal. However, don’t let the fact that they don’t serve food and alcohol completely deter you. A trade arrangement can still be made. This is where your sales skills come into play. You can charge a $5 “door fee” per person that can go to the venue. Just be sure to separate that from the tournament entry fee when you announce the fees. For example, $20 + $5 door fee, just for transparency and avoiding conflict with the “Cornhole Karens” that bitch about payouts and analyze every cent of every payout. Another thing I’ve seen is to allow coolers to be brought in for a fee. Perhaps $10 to BYOB. It’ll generate some money for the venue and is still cheaper than a bar tab for the players.

You may get lucky and stumble upon an actual event venue that will let you use their place for the publicity and exposure. Speaking of exposure, businesses are ALWAYS looking to market their name and logo, so think outside the box when trying to sell yourself and the benefits of a potential partnership. Do you have jerseys in which you can add their logo? Do you have a Facebook page or website in which you can place their logo as a group sponsor? Are you willing to place a banner with their logo at your events, both at their location and at other venues? As with anything else in life, preparation is key. Do you practice throwing bags? Of course you do. Practice your sales pitch and be prepared for when you get in front of those decision makers. Dress nice. Be well-spoken. If you aren’t good at talking with strangers, bring a group member that’s more comfortable with it. Be prepared to answer questions.

The biggest deterrent for a business to allow you in is fear of the unknown. If you present yourself in a very professional and well-spoken way, you alleviate at least a little of that fear. I had business cards made with my information and our group logo. I just consider it a little extra touch to my presentation. When you do finally get an opportunity to host an event at a venue that stuck their neck out for you, be very gracious. Treat the place as if it is yours. Honor your end of the agreement with full transparency. Police your players and the people that they bring in. Clean up the event space when you’re done. Ask them for feedback and be proactive addressing any incidents or concerns. If they decide to end the agreement, remain gracious. Don’t ever burn bridges. They may realize later on that the relationship was beneficial and ask you to come back.

Conclusion

Always remember that the person who gets the most no’s, also gets the most yes’s. Now head out and buy some Powerball tickets. Work on your sales pitch on the way.

Tony Cevik
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