In 2015, more than 250,000 children ages 9 to 18 played 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. In order to maintain the high-level of support, Little League International has increased the tournament entry fee by $50 per team, beginning with the 2016 season. Leagues wishing to enter teams in any of Little League’s tournaments will now pay an entrance fee of $200 per team. One hundred percent of the money collected from the tournament enrollment fee goes directly to local leagues to help offset tournament-related expenses.
The primary reason for the fee increase is due to Little League International’s continued effort to find new ways to provide additional financial support to local programs. In recent years, Little League expanded mileage reimbursement for leagues in the U.S. competing in section, state, and region level tournaments who travel more than 150 miles per one round trip. Mileage reimbursement in 2015 totaled more than $865,000 to chartered Little Leagues.
Little League also provides stipends for most regional tournament hosts in seven divisions, 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 Baseball® and Little League Softball® division regionals do not receive stipends, as those events are held at Little League-owned facilities.
Little League also fully covers all travel, meal-related expenses, and lodging for all teams participating in each of the nine World Series events. Totaling nearly 100 teams annually, these expenses were more than $2,615,000 in 2015. This includes travel for all international teams to attend each World Series tournament held in August in the United States. In addition, beginning in 2015, all volunteer umpires who travel to the World Series levels of tournament play at all nine World Series receive a stipend to offset their travel expenses. Each umpire receives a stipend of $400.
Last year, Little League International contributed $1.4 million in addition to what was provided through the tournament entry fee to help offset the tournament-related costs for local leagues, districts, and volunteers.
In order to maintain this high-level of financial support, while taking into account rising travel and housing costs, Little League International has made the decision to increase the tournament entry fee for the first time in five years.
“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,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “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. As an organization, for over 76 years, we have been committed to providing strong support to local leagues so Little Leaguers everywhere can forge lifelong memories. That commitment won’t ever change.”
Giving Back to Local Leagues
Earlier in 2015, Little League unveiled its Grow the Game Initiatives, including lowering the fee for local programs to affiliate with Little League from $16 per team to $10 per team. This was part of a larger $4 million initiative to assist local league operations and provide more quality Little League opportunities in communities around the world. Also included in this initiative was a robust grant program and increased support related to 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.
While 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.
The Little League Tournament
Countless individuals have had the opportunity to make friends and learn life lessons on Little League fields, and for nearly 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 9/10-year-old, 10/11-year-old, Little League, Intermediate (50/70) Baseball, Junior League, Senior League, and Big League levels that culminate in nine 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 only 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 restricted 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 nine 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. Most other youth baseball and softball tournaments not only charge an entry fee per team, on average of around $500 and as much as $2,000, but also require teams to fund their own travel expenses. The only fee Little League International charges is the one-time, $200 enrollment fee.
The Increase Helps Local Teams and Leagues
As teams advance into the Sectional tournament after district play, leagues have the potential of having support from Little League International to help offset those costs. More importantly, the increase in the tournament fee will help support fellow Little Leaguers and their families 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.
More information about the Little League Tournament Entry Fee can be found on LittleLeague.org.