US Chess Executive Board Votes to Move Organization’s Headquarters

In a unanimous 8-0 vote, the US Chess Federation’s Executive Board has elected to move the US Chess headquarters from Crossville, Tennessee to the St. Louis, Missouri metropolitan area in 2022. This was a two-part process that carefully considered the following questions:

  • Should US Chess maintain its headquarters in Crossville, Tennessee?
  • If not, where should US Chess locate its headquarters?

US Chess Vice President Randy Bauer observes, “I served on the Executive Board in 2003 when the decision was made to move to Crossville from New Windsor, New York. US Chess was a fundamentally different organization in 2003 and Crossville met our needs. In the almost two decades since, US Chess has evolved substantially and consequently so have its business needs.”

A prime example of this transformation is the challenge US Chess has faced in staffing its Crossville headquarters. With a 2021 population of just over 12,000 people, Crossville is best known for its golfing, outdoor activities, and as a retirement community. With its broader mission resulting from a change in 2014 to a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, US Chess now requires different specialized talents to support its operations—skillsets that have proven difficult to find in Crossville. Presently, only three of US Chess’ 18-member staff are located in Crossville.  While US Chess has successfully integrated a telecommuting staff, we prefer that certain positions be located in our headquarters building. In recent years, we rarely receive applications from qualified candidates in the greater Crossville area for these types of positions.

In considering where to locate its headquarters, the Executive Board also keyed in on several attributes that would benefit the organization and its mission:

  • Affordable cost of living
  • Central U.S. locations
  • Superior transportation access
  • Large and diverse population from which to draw a skilled staff
  • Chess culture

Taken together with the synergy of St. Louis as the chess capital of the United States, Missouri’s second-largest city became the obvious choice.

Adds Mike Hoffpauir, US Chess President, “The US Chess mission – to empower people, enrich lives and enhance communities through chess ­– sets us on an exciting course to grow both competitive chess and the culture of chess in the United States. With the world-class chess activities in St. Louis, including the Saint Louis Chess Club’s decade-long string of hosting U.S. Championship events, we are excited about being positioned to better deliver on our nonprofit mission with this move.”

US Chess is forever grateful for the support provided by the City of Crossville, the Crossville community, Crossville businesses, and the State of Tennessee over the past 18 years. They will always be acknowledged as a valued part of our organization’s history and embraced as dear friends of chess.

 

FAQs

    • What other locations were considered by the Executive Board?
      • A: The US Chess Executive Board discussed other locations when considering this move including: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Nashville and St. Louis. For the reasons noted in the announcement, St. Louis was the unanimous choice.
    •  Then why can’t we stay in Crossville if we’re already utilizing telecommuters?
      • A: US Chess will continue to use a hybrid staffing model for roles that are well-suited for this modality. The comparatively small labor pool in Crossville has limited the recruitment of more specialized skills, including some roles that are better suited for in-office service.
    • Where in St. Louis will the new headquarters be located?
      • A: US Chess has not selected a specific physical location at this time.
    • What will happen to the US Chess staff who work in Crossville?
      • A: US Chess’ practice is to offer telecommuting options for staff whose positions are well-suited for that model.
    • What inducements are being offered to US Chess to move?
      • A: The US Chess Executive Board made its decision independently from outside influence and incentives. There were no inducements offered to US Chess to make this move.
    • What will happen to the building owned by US Chess?
      • A: The building is owned by US Chess and is part of the Life Member Asset Trust. Should it be deemed the best course of action, a vote of the delegates would be required to sell the building. The sale of the building would result in funds returning to US Chess via the Life Member Asset Trust.

 

Comments

Crossville was a mistake from Day One, for the reasons stated in this release. I am surprised attracting donors isn't mentioned, because that should be more possible having a strong chess community and network to show and work with there. All the other reasons make sense. Crossville never could attract quality staff for US Chess. Today is a great day forward for our organization.

Karl, the staff that works/worked in Crossville was and is phenomenal. Bill, Pat, Susan, Joan, Traci and so forth were and are top notch. As one with institutional memory, the move to Crossville was a god send for the USCF at the time, thanks mostly to Harry Sabine (who, by the way, should be in the US Chess HOF).

This is a huge decision for US Chess. It is a shame that no type of business item or poll was taken at the delegate meeting less than 5 months ago. It sounds like the move is to take place before the next delegate meeting.

I think the move is a bad idea. It is putting all of chess in St.Louis and not giving chess an opportunity to spread properly throughout the country. St.Louis is monopolizing Chess in the U.S and it is unfair to the state of Tennessee who welcome USCHESS with open arms.

Without necessarily disagreeing with the decision, l I did have to scratch my head at this:

"A prime example of this transformation is the challenge US Chess has faced in staffing its Crossville headquarters."

Two employees with a combined 80+ years of institutional knowledge, Joan DuBois and Traci Lee, were let go a year ago. I had both personal and phone/email dealings with both, and can testify to their value to the organization.

Randy Hough

 

The two named employees were not "let go." We posted the following on CLO on November 9, 2020: US Chess is sad to announce the departure of two long-time employees, Joan DuBois and Traci Lee, effective November 10, 2020. Joan, who was responsible for TLAs and Affiliate Relations, is retiring and Traci, who is a Membership Associate, is leaving to pursue other opportunities.

Funny, I don't know much about your organization but when I read "80-years" of experience I knew it was probably not accurate to suggest they were fired. Thank you for providing this information. We can't wait to have you in STL.

I would also advise the BOD to donate that land/building or the funds from it to a non-profit organization in Crossville in Harry Sabine’s name - as it would go a long way to helping that community and it came at no cost to the USCF thanks to Harry’s hard work and dedication.

Also in honor of all the hardworking Crossvillians like Bill Hall, Susan Kantor, Chuck Lovingood and many others that dedicated their lives to the sport and the organization and went through extreme sacrifices while it was the HQ.

There are big players in STL and the few hundred grand that building is worth means a lot more to Crossville than it does to STL.

Absolutely not. The building belongs to the Life Members Asset Trust, and should be sold to fund that membership benefit. I believe the land was donated, but the building was constructed by US Chess. There was no such consideration when US Chess left New York. There is no need for one here either. It's a business decision that benefits US Chess greatly.

I'm delighted to hear this and look forward to visiting the new HQ here in St Louis and hopefully doing business with US Chess. And even if that doesn't work out, I know where I can find a good game!

We are so excited to have your organization in STL! The improved success of US Chess over the next few years will be all the explanation you need for the naysayers. Thank you for selecting us.

Chess culture has been exploding in STL with plenty of room to grow! I can't wait to see what the relationship between the game and this city looks like in 10 years time.

Thank You Crossville!! As US Chess moves on to a larger city, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Crossville, and to Harry Sabine. The move to Crossville was not popular or easy, but the city and its' people opened their hearts and their wallets for the USCF. In the meantime, US Chess needs to find a way to honor Crossville, TN.

Not to be negative, but wasn't US Chess recently needing donations and members to renew their memberships even without the possibility of over the board play? Wasn't US Chess suffering an extreme loss of revenue with the cancellation of the scholastic national tournaments? Has the financial situation improved enough for US Chess to be able to afford to relocate the headquarters?

For the record, St. Louis is technically “Missouri’s second largest city” only becausd the city limits are only 61 sq miles (vs. KC’s 319 sq miles). When comparing metropolitan areas, there’s no doubt which city is larger- St. Louis is a metropolis of 2.8+ million; Kansas City is less than 2.2 million. Might want to correct that statement- anyone who is familiar with both cities knows that St Louis is clearly the dominant urban center of the state.

Yes, If you have driven through both cities. St. Louis is way bigger. The true measure of a city is it's Metropolitan Statistical Area. If you look at Atlanta, there are only 488,000 in the Atlanta city limits but the Metro Atlanta area has 6.1 million. Which is about equal to the whole state of Missouri. I am from Tennessee and I hate to see them move. But I guess that's progress.

I think STL is not the best place. It is too close to the Hall of Fame and scholastic center of STL and Rex Sinquefield. Rex has done a lot of good for chess but to locate the headquarters in his backyard is a mistake. Chicago is the best place for the headquarters since USCHESS is incorporated in Illinois.

I used to be a resident of the St. Louis area for 9 years off and on between 1991 - 2004. Even as far back as 1993, there was talk about having St. Louis as a location for US Chess Headquarters well before the time of Rex Sinquefield. As per the previous poster, since US Chess is incorporate in the State of Illinois, one could conceivably have US Chess headquartered in "Metro East" in Illinois which is part of the St. Louis Metro area. To me, this move makes all the financial sense in the world as there are plenty of office buildings in St. Louis County near where I used to live and work, and these office buildings are desperately looking for tenants, and US Chess can definitely take advantage of that.

Given what has happened the last few years with Covid, there is no doubt that US Chess took a big hit and compared to the move to Crossville back in 2003, US Chess is financially stronger today.

Las Vegas will always be the "Mecca" for very large tournaments.
LV is also fun, the west is booming the mid-west is tired and staid.

Your PR says “the US Chess Federation’s Executive Board has elected to move the US Chess headquarters from Crossville, Tennessee to the St. Louis, Missouri metropolitan area in 2022.”
Later in the same release you refer to St. Louis as “Missouri’s second largest city”. St. Louis is, by far, Missouri’s largest urban/metropolitan area. City boundaries are meaningless in modern America; it’s metropolitan area and market size that matters, and St. Louis remains a much bigger and more influential urban center than KC.

This is a good move and the decision making process is much improved over the Crossville fiasco.

When US Chess announced the first anticipated move to Crossville there was, of course, quite a commotion. The EB came under pressure to request bids, so they cancelled the move for a year. There were at least eight bids. One of those was the Grapevine, Texas bid submitted by the old Watauga Chess Club. Most people should be aware Grapevine is only minutes away from DFW and the hub for at least five major Interstate highways.

I contacted US Chess and asked for their criteria. All these below were given: 

  • Affordable cost of living
  • Central U.S. locations
  • Superior transportation access
  • Large and diverse population from which to draw a skilled staff
  • Chess culture

There were a few other items, such as good schools and colleges. The packet was impressive and submitted in at least 12 copies, each containing an informative CD from the Grapevine Chamber of Commerce.

Crossville won and that's life. But there were some distasteful negatives about the process and I can only blame the leadership of that time. The announcement was made without a thank you letter or phone call to the hard working volunteers in Grapevine and the other sites who made great efforts to satisfy the needs of US Chess.

To be fair, I did receive a written apology from a high ranking US Chess Official after I expressed my disappointment. However much of the letter blamed others rather than letting the buck stop where it really belonged. Fast forward to a 2007 tournament I played in. One of my opponents had served on the EB during the final Crossville decision. In casual conversation I asked him how Grapevine's packet stacked up.

"Grapevine? What packet? We never saw any packets and we didn't hear about any other locations. We only heard about Crossville, so that's what we approved."

This move is long overdue. I urge the EB to make this happen quickly.

Respectfully to all.

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