After 16 years of organizing the Three Rivers Paint Ball Tournament, Debra Dion Krischke and her husband Ryan decided to cancel the event. They stated that the different leagues that were created five years ago polarized the industry. The event, also known as the International Amateur Open, attracted thousands of participants and spectators from all over North America. It was first held in New Sewickley before moving to the Big Butler Fairgrounds for several years before returning to New Sewickley last year. It was said to have brought in up to $20 million for the local economy, which is much needed money in Pittsburgh.

The first recorded paintball game was played in summer 1981. The first national championship paintball game was played in the fall of 1983 by the National Survival Game. Soon after, one of the organizers of the game, Bob Gurnsey, began franchising commercial paintball fields and distributing Nelson paintballs and paintball guns. Krischke served as the tournament director. When the paintball phenomenon exploded, sponsors and vendors began showing up to commercialize the industry. Then when the big names took several paths, the vendors began to determine what event they’d attend and who they would support. In 2006, there was a five man competition, a three man open class, and the retro woods ball competition. Players competed at a cost of $55 to $100 per player with free paint from Empire.

The commercial turn that the event took ultimately led to its demise, in a move that causes other sports to thrive. This shows how much different this backwoods game is from any other activity. It is meant to be played without a lot of bells and whistles attached.

For related articles visit http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07217/806484-54.stm and http://www.warpig.com/paintball/tournament/threeriverspaintballfestival/index.shtml.

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