Recently I participated in an online discussion with other hockey coaches about how teams/hockey associations are charging admission to parents for youth hockey tournaments. One of the examples stated in the discussion was of the Labor Day Face-Off tournament in Foxborough, MA where organizers charged $20 for parents and spectators to watch the children play in that tournament. As a point of reference, a person could purchase a single game ticket to the Ontario Reign of the ECHL for $10, the AHL’s Rochester Americans for $17, and the Phoenix Coyotes of the National Hockey League (NHL) for $20.05.
Of the 50+ coaches who participated in this discussion, only one person (a tournament director) was in favor of charging admission to parents for youth hockey tournaments. His argument focused on tournaments being a fundraiser for teams. While I can understand this point of view, I simple do not agree. There are other methods of raising money during a tournament or throughout the hockey season that does not involve parents and friends of children playing in the games to pay an additional fee. Here is a sampling of the comments from coaches throughout North America.
One coach wrote:
I appreciate the need to generate revenue but admission at the door for parents to watch their children play is not right. If they need the money, they should build it into the to the entry fee as suggested and have some other form of revenue rather than a money grab at the door.
Another coach stated:
Parents already pay for ice time. To charge to see their children play would be a double charge. We want to encourage parents to support their children. Fees are enough already.
Another good point from a coach in Toronto stated:
I would prefer a higher tournament fee and no gate fee and be creative with other promotions. Charge instead for a program, t-shirt or other products (draws, 50/50 prizes, concessions, etc.). The cost of hockey is difficult as it is.
The fact of the matter is that hockey at the minor level should about the kids having fun and parents/family/friends supporting them in their endeavors. Hockey tournaments have option to charge whatever they like, but they should also be upfront about the ticket prices (at the gate) so teams and attendees can make informed decisions about selecting a tournament to play in.
Personally I like the example of a class act tournament the Challenge Cup in Vancouver, BC (one of the largest youth hockey tournaments in the world with over 250 teams participating annually), as they do not charge admission to watch games.
I’d like to hear your thoughts on the idea of charging admission to parents for youth hockey tournaments?