Minnesota

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Minnesota Schools Won't Be Reimbursed for State Tournament Costs

5 Sep, 2018

By: Michael Popke

High schools in Minnesota — the state with more girls participating in interscholastic sports per capita than any other— will not receive reimbursement this year for costs associated with state tournaments.

“Blaming a rise in state tournament venue costs and a drop in ticket sales, the Minnesota State High School League announced … [that] it cannot reimburse schools to help offset expenses, reports StarTribune.com. “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.”

The MHSL found itself in a similar situation a few years ago, when increased tournament expenses and shrinking revenue left $32,734 for reimbursement to member schools that sent athletes to state events during the 2014-15 school year, according to StarTribune.com. Rather than dividing the money among hundreds of schools and mailing checks barely worth their postage, the Minnesota State High School League’s Board of Directors voted to suspend tournament reimbursement that year.

“We annually don’t budget to give money back,” MHSL Assistant Director Rich Matter told StarTribune.com in August. “When we have those years where we have excess revenue over our expenses, we can give back. This year we didn’t have that.”

One reason they didn’t, league officials say, is because venues are charging more for use of their facilities. The University of Minnesota raised its per-ticket facility fee from $2 to $2.50 for 2017-18. 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, StarTribune.com reports.

To offset those costs, the MHSL will raise state tournament ticket prices by $2 for adults and $1 for students, beginning this academic year. “Going forward, with the ticket price increase, we hope to be able to give money back, but there are no guarantees,” Matter said.

This financial upheaval is happening as the National Federation of State High School Associations reports that the number of girls playing interscholastic sports in Minnesota surged 17 percent in 10 years.

“You can’t buy this,” Mary Jo Kane, a University of Minnesota professor of kinesiology and founding director of Minneapolis’ Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport, told TwinCities.com, reacting to the participation news. “It’s priceless.”

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