Minnesota’s high school league faces estimated $407K deficit

Published 3:38 pm Monday, September 16, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota State High School League officials are considering charging more for championship admissions and school memberships as well as seeking out new sponsorships to address a projected $407,000 deficit.

This month, League Executive Director Erich Martens began asking school activities directors statewide for ideas on how to handle what would be the league’s largest budget deficit to date. Martens said the issue has his “complete attention,” the Star Tribune reported.

“The MSHSL is reviewing all aspects of expenses and seeking cost containment in all areas,” Martens wrote in an email. “We are seeking efficiencies in management of tournaments, while maintaining the quality experience for all student participants.”

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The league, with nearly 500 member schools, runs on a yearly budget of about $9 million — much of it focused on state tournaments. It receives no funds from the state Legislature.

The anticipated shortfall can be attributed to drops in revenue from sponsorships and ticket sales, as well as a roughly $250,000 project to rebuild what Martens termed the league’s “outdated data systems and website.”

The league is now seeking help in other ways. Beginning this school year, each school’s annual league membership fee jumps from $100 to $110, and that cost will go up another $10 every school year for five more years.

State tournament expenditures are also increasing. Starting with the 2021-22 school year, the league approved additional classes for cross-country, soccer and volleyball, which means more section and state tournaments.

As for sponsorship revenue, eight sponsors are expected to provide about $455,000 in 2019-2020. Martens said “a significant effort” will take place to “increase the number of sponsors” and boost “revenue from current sponsors.”