Sign the Petition to Stop NorCal’s “Facility Use Fee”

USTA NorCal's Board of Directors approved a $25 'facility use fee.' This tax will be added to every League registration and paid directly into the pockets of “member orgs,” which are mostly private clubs. The Board brazenly passed this tax WITHOUT consulting League staff or the Adult League Committee!
We, the League players, demand an immediate revocation of this $25 tax! We already have over 700 signatures! Help spread the word! #SaveNorCalLeagues
 
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schmke

Hall of Fame
I am all for avoiding unnecessary and inappropriate fees, but I have a number of questions.

In USTA League in my area, the visiting team pays a guest fee when playing an away match. Is this not done in NorCal?

Note that the facilities we play at are a mix of private and public facilities, but they all have court fees, even home team members may be paying a per match fee depending on their membership status at the facility. Given that to play at the facility at all you'd have to be a member or pay a fee, paying a fee as the visiting team doesn't seem wrong.

Now, in NorCal, I'm guessing quite a few matches are played at public courts where there is no fee, perhaps because none is required or any reservation that is needed is taken care of with the city or whomever owns the court by the league or captains. Is this the case?

I agree the idea of tacking on a $25 facility use fee to what is already a $29 league fee seems wrong, and how it appears to have been approved seems doubly wrong, but it is probably important to understand the context before being able to offer a complete opinion.
 

Max G.

Legend
In USTA League in my area, the visiting team pays a guest fee when playing an away match. Is this not done in NorCal?
No, it is not.

Home team is responsible for providing courts. When I played on a team out of public courts, The captain would collect from the players whatever the price per person was to reserve the courts from the city for the season. When playing for a club, the club required all team members to be registered for the “tennis club” which was an extra fee.

So it’s up to the home team to provide courts for all home matches without charging the visiting team anything. And that makes sense! I bet some of the super fancy clubs around here have crazy expensive court fees that I would not want to pay.
 

Papa Mango

Semi-Pro
Signed...
Beyond ridiculous, first lessen the number of matches you get to play and then charge more fees...

No, it is not.

Home team is responsible for providing courts. When I played on a team out of public courts, The captain would collect from the players whatever the price per person was to reserve the courts from the city for the season. When playing for a club, the club required all team members to be registered for the “tennis club” which was an extra fee.

So it’s up to the home team to provide courts for all home matches without charging the visiting team anything. And that makes sense! I bet some of the super fancy clubs around here have crazy expensive court fees that I would not want to pay.
This is correct.
 

HookEmJeff

Semi-Pro
Isn't this just paying for access as a USTA League playing non-member of a club... to actually be able to play at that private club as an away guest for the league match?

I would imagine many of these league matches are in prime time hours for the private clubs, and their NON-USTA league playing members are having difficulty finding courts and are probably none too thrilled seeing all those non members taking their court time away.

Either way, it's a tough needle to thread for BOTH sides, especially the USTA in the middle of it.

Public parks players aren't used to paying extra court fees and see this as a tax imposed by the USTA. Private clubs can't always have non-members filling up their courts on the USTA's behalf (league play) and are asking the USTA for help to deal with that issue.

If players want to be able to have access to ALL these clubs to play USTA League, I don't know what the solution is other than just straight up paying a court fee if you're not a member. It's a guest fee. The club could just say we're NOT allowing ANY matches with non-members and poof, there goes a USTA League division and several players saying "ehhh, I'm done with tennis." That's not good, either.

It also works the other way around, players saying they simply can't afford another $25 per league registration.

Also, I would imagine each court fee per match would actually cost more if the clubs implemented a strict, non-member-paying-a-court-fee-regardless type of policy. I mean a private club could always say, yeah you can come in...but you're paying our daily court fee. Two away matches could blow WAY past that season-long $25 fee.

Either way, people probably have to get used to PAYING more for court time, public and private. There aren't any costs in this world that go down, that's for sure.

Tough position for the USTA to be in. They just want people to play tennis, but the clubs are the ones who control the access to the courts.
 

brokenRPM

Rookie
The big question is where the 1.4 million will go to? Are all the clubs getting a fair cut or only a selected few get every penny?
 

Jack the Hack

Hall of Fame
Why doesn’t the home team just work it out with their facility, rather than everyone paying the freight? If your team wants to play out of Bushwood Country Club and my team plays at the public park, why should my team have to share that cost?
This is pretty much how it works in the Northern Oregon district. There are no per match fees charged for either the home team or the opponent at the time of the match. In other words, the visiting players never have to pay anything when they show up.

At private clubs, the management approves the "sponsorship" of the home teams, which allows them to limit how many court times are given away for USTA League. Some of those clubs charge a one time extra league fee for the home team's non-member players at the beginning of the season or have rules saying only club members can play on their teams. The public facilities usually charge a set amount per home team for the season, which the captain divides amongst all their players.

When I've played on my club's teams, I've never paid anything beyond the USTA League fee ($29). When I have been a mercenary for one of the public facility teams, my share is usually around $40 extra for the regular season.

A few years ago, the USTA started charging us an entry fee for the local area playoffs, which is usually around $125 per team (which we also divide amongst ourselves). PNW Sectional Championship entry fees are about $300 per team (divided again). The Nationals entry fee is $55 per person. These fees are supposed to cover the balls, officials, courts times, tshirts, and other goodies.
 

Papa Mango

Semi-Pro
Isn't this just paying for access as a USTA League playing non-member of a club... to actually be able to play at that private club as an away guest for the league match?
No, I believe this is the case in entire NorCal but in our district the away team does not pay any fees to play (public park or club)

I would imagine many of these league matches are in prime time hours for the private clubs, and their NON-USTA league playing members are having difficulty finding courts and are probably none too thrilled seeing all those non members taking their court time away.
In clubs and even public parks, the matches are scheduled for non prime time (~1pm in the afternoon) so if you are playing a match you can pretty much kiss that one weekend day goodbye..

Either way, it's a tough needle to thread for BOTH sides, especially the USTA in the middle of it.
They want to have their cake and eat it too and that's about it.

Public parks players aren't used to paying extra court fees and see this as a tax imposed by the USTA. Private clubs can't always have non-members filling up their courts on the USTA's behalf (league play) and are asking the USTA for help to deal with that issue.
There is a court booking fee (plus balls, food, beer ~30 bucks for the teams I have been on) for public courts that is paid to the city to schedule time on the courts. Again non-prime time. At one of the public parks around me its $21/2hours/court.

It also works the other way around, players saying they simply can't afford another $25 per league registration.
It is not a question of paying the additional $25, most* of the people in Norcal especially in the bay area can probably pay the $25 fee, but what is the USTA providing for that fee? The registration fee has gone up by pretty much $1 a year since atleast I have been playing here (which is way higher than inflation), with nothing to show for it.

Also, I would imagine each court fee per match would actually cost more if the clubs implemented a strict, non-member-paying-a-court-fee-regardless type of policy. I mean a private club could always say, yeah you can come in...but you're paying our daily court fee. Two away matches could blow WAY past that season-long $25 fee.

Either way, people probably have to get used to PAYING more for court time, public and private. There aren't any costs in this world that go down, that's for sure.
Then I will politely mark myself unavailable whenever we have an away match at those clubs of course letting my captain know beforehand.
That is what the USTA is hoping that people will invariably "get used to" paying the fees, with absolutely zilch to show for it.

This is pretty much how it works in the Northern Oregon district. There are no per match fees charged for either the home team or the opponent at the time of the match. In other words, the visiting players never have to pay anything when they show up.

At private clubs, the management approves the "sponsorship" of the home teams, which allows them to limit how many court times are given away for USTA League. Some of those clubs charge a one time extra league fee for the home team's non-member players at the beginning of the season or have rules saying only club members can play on their teams. The public facilities usually charge a set amount per home team for the season, which the captain divides amongst all their players.

When I've played on my club's teams, I've never paid anything beyond the USTA League fee ($29). When I have been a mercenary for one of the public facility teams, my share is usually around $40 extra for the regular season.

A few years ago, the USTA started charging us an entry fee for the local area playoffs, which is usually around $125 per team (which we also divide amongst ourselves). PNW Sectional Championship entry fees are about $300 per team (divided again). The Nationals entry fee is $55 per person. These fees are supposed to cover the balls, officials, courts times, tshirts, and other goodies.
FWIW, I play as a non-member from a club, every year they threaten that they will start charging a fee for non members to play USTA from their teams but they never follow up. The higher level teams (mens) are 50% or more non members..:unsure:
And Whoa on those fees, for NorCal Districts and beyond:
- The fee for 4-line leagues is $120
- The fee for 3-line leagues is $90
 

brokenRPM

Rookie
Most of the "organized clubs" using public courts get fundings from their cities too so why are we as tax payers paying more for nothing?
 

J_R_B

Hall of Fame
I am all for avoiding unnecessary and inappropriate fees, but I have a number of questions.

In USTA League in my area, the visiting team pays a guest fee when playing an away match. Is this not done in NorCal?

Note that the facilities we play at are a mix of private and public facilities, but they all have court fees, even home team members may be paying a per match fee depending on their membership status at the facility. Given that to play at the facility at all you'd have to be a member or pay a fee, paying a fee as the visiting team doesn't seem wrong.

Now, in NorCal, I'm guessing quite a few matches are played at public courts where there is no fee, perhaps because none is required or any reservation that is needed is taken care of with the city or whomever owns the court by the league or captains. Is this the case?

I agree the idea of tacking on a $25 facility use fee to what is already a $29 league fee seems wrong, and how it appears to have been approved seems doubly wrong, but it is probably important to understand the context before being able to offer a complete opinion.
In Middle States, home teams are responsible for all court fees unless a match is moved indoors due to weather (then both teams split costs). My team plays a a public park where the court fees are $8 per person but you can also buy a seasonal membership which gets the court fees waived. When I host a match, fees are waived for any player on either team who is a member, but the home team always pays whatever the total is. There are always one or two other teams from that park, so those matches turn out to be virtually free. The way I split up the charges is to charge each person on my team either $8 or 0 depending if they are a member plus the other team's total charge divided by 8. So if a visiting team is from another club, the other team's charge comes out to somewhere between $6-8 per person as they're unlikely to have more than maybe a player or two who is a member at the park and the total charge is $6-8 for members or $14-16 for non-members on my team, but for a home match against another team from the park, the charge can be as low as $2-3 for park members.
 

kevrol

Hall of Fame
Around here if you play at a court (public or private) that's not your home club you pay court fees at that site. Why not do that instead of needlessly complicating things? Plus if I'm a player that's likely to only get 2-3 matches I'm really gonna have to think twice about such a steep entry fee.
 

Nexus

Rookie
$25 fees may just be the beginning . There is no control over what else they may add in the future because a few club pros and their friends run the board
Exactly. What’s to say the total cost is not $75 the following year, and $100 the next? Furthermore, if it happens in NorCal what's to say it won't be rolled out nationwide at some future point in time?
 
In the PNW each player pays between $12 and $14 guest fee for every away match. All the matches are indoors so I guess it makes sense.
 

ettennis

New User
Isn't this just paying for access as a USTA League playing non-member of a club... to actually be able to play at that private club as an away guest for the league match?

I would imagine many of these league matches are in prime time hours for the private clubs, and their NON-USTA league playing members are having difficulty finding courts and are probably none too thrilled seeing all those non members taking their court time away.

Either way, it's a tough needle to thread for BOTH sides, especially the USTA in the middle of it.

Public parks players aren't used to paying extra court fees and see this as a tax imposed by the USTA. Private clubs can't always have non-members filling up their courts on the USTA's behalf (league play) and are asking the USTA for help to deal with that issue.

If players want to be able to have access to ALL these clubs to play USTA League, I don't know what the solution is other than just straight up paying a court fee if you're not a member. It's a guest fee. The club could just say we're NOT allowing ANY matches with non-members and poof, there goes a USTA League division and several players saying "ehhh, I'm done with tennis." That's not good, either.

It also works the other way around, players saying they simply can't afford another $25 per league registration.

Also, I would imagine each court fee per match would actually cost more if the clubs implemented a strict, non-member-paying-a-court-fee-regardless type of policy. I mean a private club could always say, yeah you can come in...but you're paying our daily court fee. Two away matches could blow WAY past that season-long $25 fee.

Either way, people probably have to get used to PAYING more for court time, public and private. There aren't any costs in this world that go down, that's for sure.

Tough position for the USTA to be in. They just want people to play tennis, but the clubs are the ones who control the access to the courts.
When a private club or public park team hosts a USTA team, they set the schedule. Typically the private club offers up the less in-demand times. For some clubs it is a weeknight 6pm sometimes 8pm M-Thursday, sometimes late afternoon on Saturday or Sunday.

If the club doesn't want to cover the costs associated to hosting a USTA team, then by all means, do not not host one. Many private club members actually play on public park teams, as well as their private club team. While the venues might decrease, the opportunity to play on a USTA team does not. In fact, the private club member can host a team on a public park, if they so wanted to.

I don't want to lump all private clubs into one bad egg bucket. There are many private tennis clubs, esp. those that are member owned not-profit who are outraged by this fee as well. The fees that they pay for court usage are already built into the membership fees, so they would be paying 2x to use their own facility.

Lastly, just because a team plays out of a public park, doesn't mean there are no costs associated to it. Court reservations for the season typically amount to $550 (season lasts for about 2.5 months). These costs are passed on to every member of the team.

In the end, USTA Norcal should not play any part in charging for a fee, which is more like a tax since it is applied to every player registration for every team they play on.
 

sam_p

Professional
I think another potential motivation here that isn't being made clear is that several of the private clubs have been leading the charge against "super teams" - ie teams that have players from multiple leagues playing together. The Bay Area is quite population dense and many players play in 2 or even 3 different leagues at level. For example, someone who lives in Foster City (in the peninsula) can easily play in SF, the upper Peninsula and the mid-Peninsula - all with about a 30 minute drive from home. Some of the private clubs are against this practice since they essentially require only members to be on teams and they get upset that they can't compete with these "curated" teams. Of course, some of their members play on these teams as well, but whatever. By hiking the prices of USTA registrations per team they may think they will curtail this practice without banning it. They have sought to impose geographic restrictions or team number restrictions but NorCal realizes this will dramatically decrease their income from multiple registrations, this may be a backdoor way to get some of the same effect.
 

Chalkdust

Rookie
I think another potential motivation here that isn't being made clear is that several of the private clubs have been leading the charge against "super teams" - ie teams that have players from multiple leagues playing together. The Bay Area is quite population dense and many players play in 2 or even 3 different leagues at level. For example, someone who lives in Foster City (in the peninsula) can easily play in SF, the upper Peninsula and the mid-Peninsula - all with about a 30 minute drive from home. Some of the private clubs are against this practice since they essentially require only members to be on teams and they get upset that they can't compete with these "curated" teams. Of course, some of their members play on these teams as well, but whatever. By hiking the prices of USTA registrations per team they may think they will curtail this practice without banning it. They have sought to impose geographic restrictions or team number restrictions but NorCal realizes this will dramatically decrease their income from multiple registrations, this may be a backdoor way to get some of the same effect.
Interesting perspective. Reduce overall registrations without taking an overall income hit by increasing each registration fee.
But then why try sell it as a 'facilities fee'? Surely they must know this will lead to a backlash.
 

sam_p

Professional
Interesting perspective. Reduce overall registrations without taking an overall income hit by increasing each registration fee.
But then why try sell it as a 'facilities fee'? Surely they must know this will lead to a backlash.
I'm just speculating here, but attempts to limit the number of teams at level players are allowed to play on have failed repeatedly because of the projected hit to registration revenues.
 

ettennis

New User
Interesting perspective. Reduce overall registrations without taking an overall income hit by increasing each registration fee.
But then why try sell it as a 'facilities fee'? Surely they must know this will lead to a backlash.
I would highly doubt that they had that in mind given the revenue implications. But, having said that, common sense doesn't explain the action they are planning to take w/ the $25 FUF. As for private club teams not being able to compete with "curated" teams. Here's a thought for those private clubs, change your membership requirements and lower your costs, make your membership more diverse. Perhaps, they'll have a better chance to produce competitive teams. :) These are clubs that you need to be invited to to become a member, perhaps go through some vetting, or you have to have a multi-million $ home. They can't have it both ways is my opinion.
 

schmke

Hall of Fame
I think another potential motivation here that isn't being made clear is that several of the private clubs have been leading the charge against "super teams" - ie teams that have players from multiple leagues playing together. The Bay Area is quite population dense and many players play in 2 or even 3 different leagues at level. For example, someone who lives in Foster City (in the peninsula) can easily play in SF, the upper Peninsula and the mid-Peninsula - all with about a 30 minute drive from home. Some of the private clubs are against this practice since they essentially require only members to be on teams and they get upset that they can't compete with these "curated" teams. Of course, some of their members play on these teams as well, but whatever. By hiking the prices of USTA registrations per team they may think they will curtail this practice without banning it. They have sought to impose geographic restrictions or team number restrictions but NorCal realizes this will dramatically decrease their income from multiple registrations, this may be a backdoor way to get some of the same effect.
The flaw in this is that if there is any player that is likely to be willing to pay an extra $25 per registration, it is the player who places enough importance on USTA League play that they will try to form or be part of a super team. Or, the captain or teammate or sponsor will offer to pay the registration to get the player to join.

The player that won't register for a second, third, or fourth team, or not register at all, is probably Jane/Joe average who just likes to play a lot but for which the extra money is more significant, and they don't have some benefactor recruiting them and offering to pay it for them.
 

sam_p

Professional
The flaw in this is that if there is any player that is likely to be willing to pay an extra $25 per registration, it is the player who places enough importance on USTA League play that they will try to form or be part of a super team. Or, the captain or teammate or sponsor will offer to pay the registration to get the player to join.

The player that won't register for a second, third, or fourth team, or not register at all, is probably Jane/Joe average who just likes to play a lot but for which the extra money is more significant, and they don't have some benefactor recruiting them and offering to pay it for them.
Those aren't unreasonable points, however, I do know first hand that much of the opposition to these curated teams comes from small elite clubs. Most of the players at these clubs do not play on multiple teams and feel that people who do are somehow not doing things the "right" way. They have tried to limit teams geographically and limit the number of teams a player can play on at level - this feels like another way to accomplish something similar.
 
We have generated over 2,600 signatures in only 5 days! Thank you for your support and for standing up together as a team. Keep the signatures coming!
This open letter with our demand to revoke the 'facility use fee' was just sent to all members of the Board of Directors: https://savingnorcalleagues.blogspot.com/2020/03/open-letter-to-board-of-directors-of.html
The ball is in their court to act with the fiduciary duty they have for the organization they serve: USTA Northern California.
#SaveNorCalLeagues
 

OnyxZ28

Hall of Fame
Is there any way to get the national organization involved? As we saw last year with the UP nationals row, Norcal and the main org aren't always on the same page.
 

jviss

New User
It’s tough to tell what the motivations are based on the meeting minutes. I think the board members who voted for this (somehow this is an anonymous vote) need to explain themselves but mostly they need to reverse their decision. Especially considering this has been voted down multiple times by previous boards.

It’s ridiculous that the new president of the board is going to directly financially benefit from this vote. The truth is his club is located in a manufactured ‘exclusive’ massive faux-mansion gated community in basically the middle of nowhere. This isn’t a 100+ year old club with tennis history that would actually worth the experience. I’m struggling to see why anyone should have to pay extra to play there.

NorCal has an incredibly diverse tennis community and we play all kinds of teams and players at all kinds of courts. If a private club doesn’t like this situation then they should not participate in USTA leagues.

Wonder if USTA National can step in on this. Seems like they should given their inclusive mission statement.
 

brokenRPM

Rookie
Non-profit organizations shouldn't be run like this. I am sure most of these clubs or the pros run as "non-profit" organizations or pay no taxes.

$1.4 million is not a small amount for a tennis pro and a few friends.
 
If a private club doesn’t like this situation then they should not participate in USTA leagues.
That works for me, I paid good money to play at a club and not to watch a bunch of people I don't know play tennis during prime time. Pre-league days you joined a club to play with people at the club, maybe 400-4000 members depending on size. Now, one only plays with the dozen players who are active on their team, ignoring all the others--why would you waste any time playing/practicing with players not on your team?! After the match they socialize more with non-members then with members of their own club. Bring back the club ladder--when you can beat everyone on it then you can move on to a tournament elsewhere.
 

XM1014

New User
Now why would USTA participation be declining? I'm not sure maybe it could be pickleball, or kids playing video games??? Can not be tennis being expensive to play already and hiking league prices. Hmm.
 

jviss

New User
That works for me, I paid good money to play at a club and not to watch a bunch of people I don't know play tennis during prime time. Pre-league days you joined a club to play with people at the club, maybe 400-4000 members depending on size. Now, one only plays with the dozen players who are active on their team, ignoring all the others--why would you waste any time playing/practicing with players not on your team?! After the match they socialize more with non-members then with members of their own club. Bring back the club ladder--when you can beat everyone on it then you can move on to a tournament elsewhere.
Fair enough – I used to love playing in my club tournaments too. We used to travel to play other clubs as well.
But the reality now is club players do form club teams and do want to play USTA team matches. The issue is I don’t think it should be my responsibility to subsidize if your club members choose to form a team and participate in a wider match network.
 
Friday night, USTA NorCal's Board responded to the Open Letter that was sent to them on Thursday. It's an extremely long statement but in summary: (1) The Board ignores the voice of over 3,500 NorCal players who have already signed the petition (and signatures are still coming in every day!), (2) They will implement this fee on April 13 and (3) Without providing any factual data that would justify the need for this fee or explain their rationale, the statement made it plainly obvious that the only reason the nine directors of the Board voted to implement this fee so that their small country clubs don't have to raise the fee for their own members. Instead, they want to use the revenue machine of Adult Leagues to generate money for them because (and this is from the statement) there are no alternatives to Leagues. Basically what they're saying is: "We can do whatever we want to because players don't have a choice but to play Leagues." Well, guess what: we do have choice and we're making that choice loud and clear: #BoycottLeagues until this fee is revoked! Please continue to share this petition and the blog with your network.
 

MaxTennis

Semi-Pro
Friday night, USTA NorCal's Board responded to the Open Letter that was sent to them on Thursday. It's an extremely long statement but in summary: (1) The Board ignores the voice of over 3,500 NorCal players who have already signed the petition (and signatures are still coming in every day!), (2) They will implement this fee on April 13 and (3) Without providing any factual data that would justify the need for this fee or explain their rationale, the statement made it plainly obvious that the only reason the nine directors of the Board voted to implement this fee so that their small country clubs don't have to raise the fee for their own members. Instead, they want to use the revenue machine of Adult Leagues to generate money for them because (and this is from the statement) there are no alternatives to Leagues. Basically what they're saying is: "We can do whatever we want to because players don't have a choice but to play Leagues." Well, guess what: we do have choice and we're making that choice loud and clear: #BoycottLeagues until this fee is revoked! Please continue to share this petition and the blog with your network.
If we sign up for a team before April 13th, are we exempt from the fee?
 
#SaveNorCalLeagues obtained a copy of the official tax proposal. The abuse of power is much worse than anyone could have imagined. Here are some of the most egregious excerpts from the proposal:
  • It openly calls it a "revenue program" for clubs
  • It excludes virtually all public facilities from receiving funds
  • It makes it nearly impossible for our schools to participate and receive funds
  • It shows the Board's president-elect for the 2021/22 term, the new Executive Directors of NorCal and the two ALC members who were appointed by the president were all presenters of the proposal
  • It states that "facilities have donated their facilities to the players" over the past 30 years.
The list is too long to post here so you'll have to read the proposal yourself for some of the other outrageous comments in the rationale.
 
It states that "facilities have donated their facilities to the players" over the past 30 years.
It's nice my "facility" has donated my primetime court time to outside players for the past 30 years, so I can watch while sitting on the sidelines on a sunny weekend afternoon--that's not what I signed up for when I joined my "facility"-club decades ago--I was hoping to play tennis myself. Back then you could just mozy on down to the courts and the court host/matchmaker would hook-you up and everything was copacetic under his watchful eye--any nasties were pulled aside and taken to the woodshed for cultural retraining. That position was eliminated in the interest of fiduciary responsibility and replaced by a computer system that doesn't seem to recognize me when I stand in front of it--the inmates are now running the asylum--fortunately, the inmates are caged in unless someone carelessly leaves the gate open--they must have other people who do that for them. Wonder if I can apply for a refund for a reduction in services?

Anyways, I guess I'll just have to adjust to this brave new world and get a flip-fone for my tennis hookups and learn to text. Wonder if the new $29 "facility charge" will be rescinded now that the league season has been canceled? Maybe people will just mozy on down to their tennis facility/club to find a game--maybe even share their tennis largesse with a kid or a beginner player.
 
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