The cost of operating a youth sports association, I'm singling out baseball because it's that time of year, has almost become unmanageable for many small associations.
Registration fees, which were $ 50 – $ 100 when my children were playing are often as high as $ 1200 a year, which is quite cost prohibitive in today's lean economy which already forces the dwindling middle class to raid piggy banks and check in sofa seats for loose change , much alone those which are even less fortunate.
Exactly the same as the basic necessities of food, clothing and shelter, baseball equipment, field maintenance and utility costs for sports associations are unavoidable. I'm sure it happens, but I feel I can honestly say I have never seen a baseball association squander or misappropriate monies which are intended for the benefit of the kids.
The tried and true solution of holding benefit events is still a major contributor, along with registration fees, for the fund of the season. However, in an attempt to reduce costs, many associations have shifted financial responsibility of uniforms and any specialized equipment onto the individual teams. The amount of car washes, candy bar sales or cake bakes can quickly reach a saturation point while in a small town of 8,000 or a city of 2 million.
So what's the answer? Well, I'm sure there are many answers to an association's funding dilemma, but solutions are far more limited and are restricted by the members of the individual associations.
The best money making solution I have found is the sale of beer at the ball park. From personal experience I realize you immediately step on toes when the issue of alcohol and kids are brought up in the same sentence. However, this source of revenue should most certainly be considered.
Let's consider this basic example.
The cost of Beer, as any commodity varies with brand, quality and location. For our example I will split the difference between the highest and lowest cost of a keg of a popular beer arriving at an average of $ 150 a full sized keg, which contains a 128 ounces.
This 128 ounces equates to 165 – 12 ounce cups, which is probably a bit high because it does not take into consideration spillage, but that's the numbers.
165 – 12 ounce cups of beer sold at $ 3.50 a cup, which is probably a low ball figure especially for an all day mid-July tournament, equals to @ $ 577.00.
$ 577.00 – $ 150.00 = $ 427.00 profit from every keg of beer sold.
Large associations with maximum field usage in hot months have been known to sell up to 50 kegs of beer a week. That's over $ 21,000 a week in profit, a princely sum for any sports association.
The local beer distributor will provide all the equipment required to set up and dispense the beer, as well as initial set-up and any repairs which may pop up. If you're aggressive enough you can obtain a business which will buy all your cups in exchange for advertising, which results in every ounce of beer sold being 100% profit.
Not forgotten, one must remember the screams of pain from the toes you step on when suggesting this method of raising capital. You will be depicted not only as an alcoholic, but a major influence in turning every youngster into an alcoholic, as well as being considered a messenger of the devil. I'm not kidding, this happened to me.
A large portion of my early coaching days was in a town of 6000 which included hard drinking auto workers, coal miners and construction workers with names like Bubba and Billy Bob. I believe there were more corner bars inside the city limits than churches and the proposal to sell beer at the local little league park created a near civil war in the town.
In the years we offered beer the association was able to use the profits to;
(1) Purchase new lights replacing the ones bought in 1949;
(2.) Replace backstops which had been literally held together with baling wire;
(3.) Improve restroom facilities;
(4.) Perform an overall refurbishing of all the baseball diamonds.
(5.) Last but not least … continue to hold the cost of registration steady.
The down side of selling beer was the litter, as it's amazing how many people will not walk 10 feet to a trash can. There was NEVER a fight or unruly incident from parents, spectators or fans, although the association had a Standard Operating Procedure in place if it were required, but it never was.
In conclusion, I'd like to stress I am not an advocate for the sale of alcohol at sports parks, but I have seen the tremendous benefit which can result from the responsible selling and policing of the sales.
In this day of reduced financial help from city and local governments in combination with job losses and financial burdens families across America are experiencing, the need to think outside the box is required.