Little League® International Tournament Team Fee to Increase In Order to Maintain Current Support for Tournament Expenses for Local Little Leagues
Nearly 250,000 children ages 8 to 16 play more than 40,000 games in the Little League® International Tournament. In turn, Little League International gave back nearly $4 million to the leagues participating in these tournaments.
Countless individuals have had the opportunity to create lifelong memories and learn life lessons on Little League fields, and for more than 70 years, the Little League tournament has been a part of that experience, and it’s not just the road to Williamsport. With baseball and softball tournaments at the 8/10-year-old, 9/11-year-old, Little League, Intermediate (50/70) Baseball, Junior League, and Senior League levels that culminate in seven World Series, boys and girls compete on baseball and softball fields around the world from June through August.
To enter these tournaments, beginning at the district level, each league pays an entry fee for their tournament team. That fee goes directly into a fund that Little League International uses to provide financial support to leagues for participation at the various levels of tournament play, starting at the sectional level. This support, dispersed from the Tournament Travel Fund, includes mileage reimbursements for team travel, stipends for tournament hosts, and travel expenses (including airfare, hotels, meal-related expenses), and other costs related to the implementation of seven Little League World Series tournaments (four softball and five baseball), which together host nearly 100 teams each year. No other youth baseball and softball organization in the world provides more support to its leagues than Little League International for tournament participation.
As of the 2016 season, the tournament entry fee is $200 per team. Here’s what you need to know about this entry fee will continue to benefit local Little League programs and volunteers around the world.
Little League also provides stipends for regional tournament hosts in five divisions (excluding the Little League Baseball and Little League Softball division regionals, as those events are held at Little League-owned facilities) which are held at local league facilities each year. This direct financial support to tournament hosts totals on average of $500,000 per year.
Little League also fully covers all travel, meal-related expenses, and lodging for all teams participating in each of our seven World Series events. Totaling nearly 100 teams annually, these expenses are typically more than $2,500,000 per year. This includes travel for all international teams to attend each World Series tournament held in August in the United States.
Volunteer umpires that travel to the World Series levels of tournament play at all seven World Series also receive a stipend to offset their travel expenses. Each umpire receives a stipend of $400.
While Little League continues to contribute more to local leagues and volunteers, the cost of travel, airfare, and housing that the Little League Tournament Travel Fund incurs has increased significantly. In order to offset the increase in costs, without decreasing the level of support, the Little League International Board of Directors approved the slight increase in the fee.
While the Tournament Travel Fund provided more funding to local leagues and volunteers than ever before in 2015, there was more than a $1.4 million shortage from what was collected through tournament entry fees. Little League International was able to offset those expenses thanks to the support of our national sponsors and television partner, ESPN.
With this minimal increase per team, Little League will be able to reduce that shortage, while not reducing the amount of financial support that we give back to local leagues.
As part of Little League’s Grow the Game Initiatives, we were able to lower the fee for local programs to affiliate with Little League from $16 per team to $10 per team. This was part of a $4 million initiative that Little League embarked on in 2015 to assist local league operations and provide more quality opportunities in communities around the world. Also included in this initiative was a robust grant program and increased support related to our tournaments.
By lowering the charter or affiliation fee, leagues have more opportunities to charter additional teams in all divisions of baseball, softball, and the Challenger Division, and therefore allow more children the opportunity to play.
Increasing the tournament fee allows Little League to maintain its current level of support for those leagues who choose to participate in the Little League International Tournament.
Little League programs outside the United States often face many difficult financial constraints and hardships in all of their operations. Being able to provide support for their regional tournament hosts and for teams traveling to compete in a World Series has led to the development of additional leagues and teams in many nations, which have been able to provide countless children the opportunity to have a healthy, organized sporting experience on Little League fields in their communities.
The Little League International Tournament has a unique structure in an increasingly pay-to-play youth tournament environment. All the teams competing in Little League sanctioned tournaments represent their local community, and have to win their way to our World Series events. The athletes on these teams play together throughout the regular season, and are then selected to their league’s tournament team. They advance based on their success as a team, not on individual merit or based on the ability to afford a tournament entry fee. There is no fee for any team to play in Little League World Series Tournaments, and teams’ housing, meal-related expenses, and travel are also provided.
More importantly, that fee is helping support your fellow Little Leaguers around the world. It’s going to a fire fighter who is volunteering as an umpire at the Little League Softball World Series. It’s going to help a team from Uganda travel to the United States to compete, improve, and bring that experience back to more children in their communities. It’s going to a group of volunteers in Mexico who are organizing a regional tournament. It’s going to a team from Montana that spent six hours one way driving to their state tournament.
Being part of Little League makes you a part of all of the on-field and off-field successes of leagues around the world. And the tournament fee is just one way that Little League International can help ensure that everyone is on an even financial playing field.
As teams advance through the different levels of the Little League International Tournament, there may be other incidental fees, such as housing, meals, and other ancillary items like commemorative shirts and pins, that teams and leagues encounter, and that fall outside the mileage reimbursements that Little League provides.
Outside of a potential district fee, there is no cost to an individual team to enter a tournament at any level of the Little League International Tournaments. Individuals organizing special games or tournaments that fall outside of the scope of the Little League International Tournament and are not organized by Little League International, may charge entry fees.