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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 14, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 02
ECSA raises player fees for 2011 season
Section One
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ECSA raises player fees for 2011 season

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

For the first time in about a decade, the Emerald City Softball Association (ECSA) Board voted to make changes in the fee structure for the 2011 season. The decision for the Board to increase the regular season player fee to $95 (up from $65) did not come easy, says ECSA Commissioner Jeff Card.

'For the past two years, the league has operated at a small but manageable deficit, but the Board has deferred any fee increases until now due to the economic downturn,' Card said in a statement to ECSA members. 'With this change, we will not have to make additional increases in 2012 or the foreseeable future.'

I spoke with Card about the increase, which will impact over 500 softball players, and what the league plans to do for players who might not be able to afford an almost 50% jump in fees.

'The three largest expenses for a softball league are players' accident insurance, umpires, and fields,' Card told Seattle Gay News. 'Insurance and umpire costs grow slowly but surely every year.'

According to the ECSA Commissioner, the number-one factor driving the increase is field rentals. 'As recently as 2008, we played all of our games on fields that cost us, on average, $20 per hour,' said Card. 'Even at those rates, the annual increases in other expenses meant we were operating on a deficit for the past two years. In that time, we've grown so large that we need more than one venue each week.'

During the 2009-2010 season, when the league operated in the red, the Board did not raise fees because of the economy. Instead, ECSA officials tapped into their rainy day fund to keep fees at the same level they had been for 10 years.

'But this year, the city's Parks Department is raising their fees,' explained Card. 'Our least expensive fields now cost about 25% more, and others cost $50 per hour. The extra revenue this year will cover our cost increases and allow us to replenish our rainy day fund over the next couple of years.'

Card says that, in setting the increased rates, the ECSA Board relied on annual surveys 'which overwhelmingly show that players want a first-rate league with the best available amenities.'

He said the Board also surveyed former players and 'not a single person mentioned costs as a concern.'

Because the economy hasn't fully recovered, ECSA officials say they understand that the player fee may create a hardship for some. 'We'll announce the specifics in February, but we're also setting up a scholarship program to ensure that anybody who wants to play can do so,' said Card.

Player fees have historically accounted for about only 65% of the total revenue for the league, he said. The rest comes from corporate sponsorships and team fees, which are usually covered by sponsors.

To offset fees, at the ECSA's request, Seattle ASA is providing player accident insurance this year under a program that will reduce costs for Fall Ball. 'We're passing those savings along in the form of a player fee that's $20 less than last year's,' said Card.

For more information about the ECSA, visit them online at www.emeraldcitysoftball.org.

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