As a parent, it’s important to understand your local league’s financial operations, and we encourage all local leagues to be transparent with their finances. Since its inception, Little League® International has been committed to giving back to local leagues so children in communities throughout the world can enjoy the game they love. Little League strives to keep the costs associated with playing as reasonable as possible, and urges local programs to do the same.
Little League encourages parents to attend local Board meetings to ask questions and learn more about the funds needed to operate a league. And, local leagues are urged to share details of their financial operations frequently, including at registration. Below is a guide to help parents better understand local league finances.
Some local leagues own the property where they play. However, there are many leagues that pay a monthly or yearly fee for use of fields and facilities, and sometimes, those fees are quite steep. No matter if the local league owns the property or not, they likely have fiscal responsibilities for utilities, facilities upkeep, and other fees associated with use of a public or private facility.
As any Little League parent can attest, uniforms and playing equipment, such as bats, catchers gear, and training supplies are used heavily, and many leagues have to purchase new uniforms and equipment annually.
In order to properly operate a league, machinery and tools are needed for proper field maintenance, and construction and/or improvements to structures such as batting cages, the concession stand, press box, and dugouts are also likely to incur expenses throughout the year.
In order to grow their program, many local leagues also invest in marketing and advertising initiatives designed to increase participation and better fund the league.
Sources of Revenue
Registration fees, fundraisers, and donations are the most common forms of income for a local Little League program. Registration fees that local leagues charge are used to enhance the Little League experience at the local level. It is the policy of Little League International that no player should be turned away from participation if they are unable to pay.
Little League International provides leagues guidance on fundraising through the Operating Policies and Official Regulations found in the Little League Rulebook, the Little League Resource Guide, and Little League University. Parents are encouraged to be active participants in your league’s fundraising efforts and understand Little League’s regulations, which include that players can only be active in one fundraiser per year.
Support from Little League International
In order to participate in the Little League program, and receive all the benefits of being affiliated with the world’s largest and most respected youth sports organization, a local league must annually charter with Little League. In 2015, Little League reduced charter fees from $16 to $10 per team, and strives to keep affiliation fees as minimal as possible. These fees go toward Little League’s free resources provided to local leagues and volunteers, such as Rulebooks, the Little League Resource Guide, the Little League Tee Ball Program, training and educational resources found on Little League University, the Little League Grow the Game Grant Program, 125 free criminal background checks for volunteers through JDP Background Screening, and more.
Leagues wishing to enter teams in any of Little League’s tournaments 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. Little League has 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. Little League also provides stipends for volunteer regional tournament hosts in five 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 also fully covers all travel, meal-related expenses, and lodging for all teams participating in each of the seven World Series events. The tournament entry fee paid helps to offset these costs.
Every child should have the opportunity to have a meaningful, fun, Little League experience, and making sure that your local league’s operations are transparent and that all financial resources are going toward that effort can help ensure all families have an enjoyable Little League season.