DEERWOOD, MINN. – Blaming a rise in state tournament venue costs and a drop in ticket sales, the Minnesota State High School League announced Tuesday it cannot reimburse schools to help offset expenses.
More than 56,000 fewer tickets were sold for the 2017-18 fall and winter tournaments, about a 9.5 percent drop from the year before.
“There’s been some notice across a number of states that some attendance numbers are reducing,” said Erich Martens, league executive director, after Tuesday’s board of directors meeting at Ruttger’s Bay Lake Lodge. “There’s some trending in that particular area and that’s something we are taking a look at. Is it short-term or something we need to think about long-term?”
After ticket sales for 2016-17 were the league’s best in 10 years, the board approved $597,769 to reimburse schools. It represented an 8.7 percent increase after 2015-16, when the league returned about $550,000.
“We annually don’t budget to give money back,” Assistant Director Rich Matter said. “When we have those years where we have excess revenue over our expenses, we can give back. This year we didn’t have that.”
The first time the board did not reimburse schools was for the 2014-15 school year.
Rising costs to rent tournament venues played a role in the latest decision. The University of Minnesota raised its per-ticket facility fee charged to the league from $2 to $2.50 for 2017-18. And hosting the volleyball, wrestling and boys’ and girls’ hockey state tournaments at Xcel Energy Arena will cost about $750,000 next season and about $877,000 by the end of a recently signed five-year contract.
In June, the league approved raising state tournament ticket prices by $2 for adults and $1 for students to offset the rising cost of renting venues. The increase begins this school year.
“Going forward, with the ticket price increase, we hope to be able to give money back but there are no guarantees,” Matter said.
In other league news, Associate Director Craig Perry was selected for a four-year term as ice hockey rules committee chairman for the National Federation of High School Associations. Perry has overseen hockey at the league since 2006.