USTA NorCal "Facility Use Fee"?

sweetrugger

New User
I'm seeing some messages on Facebook about USTA NorCal Board of Directors voting to implement a $25 "facility use fee" that would be applied on top of current registration costs. I can't find any information on a USTA sire though. Any TT members out there have more information that you can point me to?
 

schmke

Hall of Fame
Guess I should have dug a bit more...found a link to the Board of Directors meeting minutes.


Looks like the motion was passed 9-7, and the motion to set up a task force was shot down 9-7.
It appears this meeting was in December, so did this passing result in an increase in league fees for 2020? Or was this a vote on something for 2021? Any NorCal players, did your fee to sign-up for leagues this year go up?
 

sweetrugger

New User
It appears this meeting was in December, so did this passing result in an increase in league fees for 2020? Or was this a vote on something for 2021? Any NorCal players, did your fee to sign-up for leagues this year go up?
Fees did not increase for 18+ season at least. No real notes in the meeting minutes about when it would be implemented. Granted, fees have been going up for the last 5 or so years...it was $25 per season not that long ago.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
It went from $28 to $29, no explanation that I saw.
That is really low .... our USTA league fees (to the USTA not the ones to our club) are $41.95 per season.

So we are paying $12 more per season than you guys for something .... whether that goes to facilities as Norcal is possibly proposing, or it goes to our local office or somewhere.

Given our's being more expensive ... our leagues are full, even if there was an increase phased in over time, you may not see a drop in participation.
 

ettennis

New User
It's for every USTA league team an individual plays on. So my personal outlay is: $29 current USTA norcal player registration fee + $25 facility use fee + on average 25 for court fees (which is court reservations + tennis balls + other items for hosting). That's $79 a team. Now, the way the proposal is worded it indicates that "member organizations" can avail of the $25 facility use fee. But for me, as a public park captain, with no affiliation to an organization, there would be no avenue to collect this. Unless, of course, I create and become a "member organization" -- which means, you got it, i have to pay $$ to become a member organization.

Here are more details on the petition that is circulating:
 

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.
 

ettennis

New User
For USTA NorCal, the away team does NOT pay a fee to play an away match.
The flights are played on public and private facilities. As the hosting team, we each pay for our home court fees. Depending on the area, a public court reservation costs $12 - 15/ hour, around $550 for the season. The season is typically 10 total matches, of which half of them are home matches. I pass these costs on equally to all the team members, typically 20 players. It amounts to an average of $25 / season per player.

I agree, more transparency is needed about how the Board arrived a decision that is so counter to the mission of USTA.
 

schmke

Hall of Fame
For USTA NorCal, the away team does NOT pay a fee to play an away match.
The flights are played on public and private facilities. As the hosting team, we each pay for our home court fees. Depending on the area, a public court reservation costs $12 - 15/ hour, around $550 for the season. The season is typically 10 total matches, of which half of them are home matches. I pass these costs on equally to all the team members, typically 20 players. It amounts to an average of $25 / season per player.

I agree, more transparency is needed about how the Board arrived a decision that is so counter to the mission of USTA.
And from the other thread:
MaxTennis said:
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.
So the question is, with the new fee in place, will home teams not be required to pay for providing the courts? Presumably not, in which case the USTA Member Organizations are getting the court fees paid for, and getting their share of the new $25 facility use fee. Seems wrong.

Note that if the above is correct, it is the members at the fancy clubs that are on the hook to continue paying for pricey home court fees and paying the extra $25. Perhaps this group is more likely to not be perturbed by the new fee, but I'd be especially upset if I was in this group.

Note that in my area, facilities have standardized more or less on ~$15 per player for our guest fees, so if you play 4 matches, 2 at home and 2 away, that is $30 which is pretty close to the $25/season noted above. So it evens out, whether the visiting team or home team pays for the courts. The question is, are facilities double dipping?
 

scmyers

New User
We do It the same way at our community center public courts. I can't imagine actual players, especially public court players being very happy about this. In addition to the new format for 40+ this seems like a big miss by USTA NorCal.

For USTA NorCal, the away team does NOT pay a fee to play an away match.
The flights are played on public and private facilities. As the hosting team, we each pay for our home court fees. Depending on the area, a public court reservation costs $12 - 15/ hour, around $550 for the season. The season is typically 10 total matches, of which half of them are home matches. I pass these costs on equally to all the team members, typically 20 players. It amounts to an average of $25 / season per player.

I agree, more transparency is needed about how the Board arrived a decision that is so counter to the mission of USTA.
 

jmnk

Hall of Fame
All the points raised in the meeting were relevant, I believe this will lead to lower participation and potentially less revenue. There are alternatives to USTA league play and people will seek out those alternatives.
I can see there are alternatives to USTA leagues as far as playing tennis. But what are practical alternatives if you want to play competitive team like tennis in organized manner against various opponents that you do not necessarily know?
Genuinely asking...
 

sam_p

Professional
And from the other thread:

So the question is, with the new fee in place, will home teams not be required to pay for providing the courts? Presumably not, in which case the USTA Member Organizations are getting the court fees paid for, and getting their share of the new $25 facility use fee. Seems wrong.

Note that if the above is correct, it is the members at the fancy clubs that are on the hook to continue paying for pricey home court fees and paying the extra $25. Perhaps this group is more likely to not be perturbed by the new fee, but I'd be especially upset if I was in this group.

Note that in my area, facilities have standardized more or less on ~$15 per player for our guest fees, so if you play 4 matches, 2 at home and 2 away, that is $30 which is pretty close to the $25/season noted above. So it evens out, whether the visiting team or home team pays for the courts. The question is, are facilities double dipping?
The need to pay for courts is a club by club and facility by facility issue. Many expensive clubs in the bay area don't have court fees per hour for outdoor courts - in this case there is generally no visitor charge for USTA matches (in my experience). At the largest indoor club (Bay Club SF Tennis) in NorCal there is a per hour charge and this is paid by the home team players (currently $28 per player to cover 2 hours court time for yourself and one opponent as well as a drink ticket and balls). Other Bay Clubs that have indoor courts (eg Bay Club Broadway) have different pricing structures but they also may require a different specific higher membership category. For public courts there frequently is a charge to reserve and the reservations must be by someone in the community. Some public courts form a local "tennis club" with low yearly dues and you must be a member to be on a team there (eg Foster City).

Bottom line, a complicated patchwork. I think the biggest problems with this facility fee are the opaqueness of the decision and lack of transparency or discussion of how the money would be distributed. There is very little good will at this point...
 

Nexus

Rookie
Same website, but link to the documentation showing a history of failed attempts until they finally had a majority on board, excluded everyone from the meeting who would oppose it, and passed it anyway. Look up the websites for the clubs these supporters are from. These clubs are the exception (incredibly wealthy & exclusive) rather than the norm (affordable sportsplex, city park, city-run club). Multimillion dollar clubs in multimillion dollar areas.

 

jviss

New User
My first thought is this is some serious boomer crap. Voting their buddies in and milking as much money as they can for their own clubs.
Considering this has been voted down multiple times before - this looks terrible for NorCal USTA.
 

Max G.

Legend
Yeah, around here, with that patchwork, I really don't see how that facility fee is going to end up paying for courts. Just logistically. Like, a captain formed a community team (just a bunch of guys) and reserves courts from the city of Palo Alto... how is the USTA gonna insert itself into that?
 

Chalkdust

Rookie
I think charging a fee for 'facilities' as Norcal is proposing is ridiculous.

IMO there are two valid models to handle court changes:

1. Home teams arrange courts, visiting teams pay nothing. This is the current model in Norcal and several other areas. It makes sense because you can control the facility you elect to play out of, knowing the costs you will incur, but cannot control the away facilities you may need to play at and any costs they might impose on you. If teams want to form out of expensive facilities that are going to charge an arm and a leg for court time, then they know this going in. From the perspective of clubs, if they want to allow teams to play out of their facilities, then they can decide to allocate time slots that are less in demand, or charge their team members extra, or subsidize the costs knowing that having USTA teams is a membership perk and also a way to get exposure to new prospective members.

2. USTA arranges courts, and charges players a fee to cover these costs. USTA procures court time and pays facilities for court usage. I know some areas follow this model, especially where leagues are held indoors and court time would be otherwise difficult for captains to arrange. This makes sense because USTA can purchase bulk blocks of time and has more price leverage than individual captains. The perk to players is that they do not have to be members of any club to play in leagues.

What Norcal is proposing is, hey, captains should still be in charge of procuring courts, and home teams still need to cover whatever costs the club might impose, but we're just going to charge another $25 per team/season, without any clear indication of how that money is going to be distributed and how it will benefit players in any way.

Ridiculous.
 

Chalkdust

Rookie
why would anyone play usta and pay these fees when there are so many other options out there?
There are no other real options for competitive play in Norcal other than USTA. I used to live there, but am now in Florida. Here there are several other options, better and cheaper. I let my USTA membership lapse after moving here.

There is definitely an opportunity for a USTA competitor in Norcal but it will be hard to gain traction since USTA is so firmly entrenched there. But given the stuff Norcal (and USTA in general) has been doing lately, it's gonna get easier!
 

MaxTennis

Semi-Pro
There are no other real options for competitive play in Norcal other than USTA. I used to live there, but am now in Florida. Here there are several other options, better and cheaper. I let my USTA membership lapse after moving here.

There is definitely an opportunity for a USTA competitor in Norcal but it will be hard to gain traction since USTA is so firmly entrenched there. But given the stuff Norcal (and USTA in general) has been doing lately, it's gonna get easier!
There are UTR tournaments but they aren't as prevalent as USTA.
 

Nexus

Rookie
I think charging a fee for 'facilities' as Norcal is proposing is ridiculous.

IMO there are two valid models to handle court changes:

1. Home teams arrange courts, visiting teams pay nothing. This is the current model in Norcal and several other areas. It makes sense because you can control the facility you elect to play out of, knowing the costs you will incur, but cannot control the away facilities you may need to play at and any costs they might impose on you. If teams want to form out of expensive facilities that are going to charge an arm and a leg for court time, then they know this going in. From the perspective of clubs, if they want to allow teams to play out of their facilities, then they can decide to allocate time slots that are less in demand, or charge their team members extra, or subsidize the costs knowing that having USTA teams is a membership perk and also a way to get exposure to new prospective members.

2. USTA arranges courts, and charges players a fee to cover these costs. USTA procures court time and pays facilities for court usage. I know some areas follow this model, especially where leagues are held indoors and court time would be otherwise difficult for captains to arrange. This makes sense because USTA can purchase bulk blocks of time and has more price leverage than individual captains. The perk to players is that they do not have to be members of any club to play in leagues.

What Norcal is proposing is, hey, captains should still be in charge of procuring courts, and home teams still need to cover whatever costs the club might impose, but we're just going to charge another $25 per team/season, without any clear indication of how that money is going to be distributed and how it will benefit players in any way.

Ridiculous.
They could also just form a luxury league with a higher registration fee for these private clubs. Let the members of those clubs pay a premium and all league matches are held against other private club USTA teams AT their private clubs. They would never have to set foot in a public park or econo-club. So they would be completely separate from the normal league players, and only interact in districts/sections on neutral ground(wherever post season is: Sac, Carmel, Fresno, whatever). The funny thing is that I bet the members of these exclusive clubs probably have no issue with how the system currently is. It's the pros that don't even play league that are pushing it, from what I understand.

Also, the whole fee thing seems to forget/ignore the reciprocity of hosting guests at your facilities.
 

ettennis

New User
They could also just form a luxury league with a higher registration fee for these private clubs. Let the members of those clubs pay a premium and all league matches are held against other private club USTA teams AT their private clubs. They would never have to set foot in a public park or econo-club. So they would be completely separate from the normal league players, and only interact in districts/sections on neutral ground(wherever post season is: Sac, Carmel, Fresno, whatever). The funny thing is that I bet the members of these exclusive clubs probably have no issue with how the system currently is. It's the pros that don't even play league that are pushing it, from what I understand.

Also, the whole fee thing seems to forget/ignore the reciprocity of hosting guests at your facilities.
What you are suggesting, a "luxury league", is what some private clubs have wanted all along. But, it goes squarely against USTA's mission, which is inclusivity. If the private clubs want that, they should go for it and arrange it amongst themselves. USTA should play no part in participating in such an arrangement that delineates those who are in the upper socio-ecomic class and those are not.
 

Papa Mango

Semi-Pro
What you are suggesting, a "luxury league", is what some private clubs have wanted all along. But, it goes squarely against USTA's mission, which is inclusivity. If the private clubs want that, they should go for it and arrange it amongst themselves. USTA should play no part in participating in such an arrangement that delineates those who are in the upper socio-ecomic class and those are not.
Who says that's their mission? Is it written somewhere? :rolleyes:
Agree otherwise.
 

Nexus

Rookie
What you are suggesting, a "luxury league", is what some private clubs have wanted all along. But, it goes squarely against USTA's mission, which is inclusivity. If the private clubs want that, they should go for it and arrange it amongst themselves. USTA should play no part in participating in such an arrangement that delineates those who are in the upper socio-ecomic class and those are not.
Fair point.

And there's no rule that says ANY clubs or organizations have to participate in USTA leagues. They have a sovereign right to run their business as they see fit.

Personally I believe its a systemic issue with a given club and they're (the management/directors) blaming league tennis [trying to get money from it] for things they should regulate within their own clubs. I could understand, and maybe go as far as to sympathize, if league play was so rampant that it meant a pro wasn't able to work full-time due to not having a court to teach on. But even then, the more reasonable actions would be to (1) try and fix the system within your own club, especially if you're in a director position and have some authority, or (2) leave and find a job somewhere else. Not to mention, I'm sure there's a nice salary that's included in a country club pro position.

SeeItHitIt -- the facility use fee charged by NorCal to NorCal players would stay in NorCal.
 

ettennis

New User
Who says that's their mission? Is it written somewhere? :rolleyes:
Agree otherwise.
Now you have me wondering.... but alas, here it is on their face book page: "USTA Northern California is devoted to promoting and developing the growth of tennis as an inclusive and inviting lifetime activity in Northern California and Northwest Nevada."
 
Katrina needs your money. New roof systems and the Taj Mahal in FL weren’t free. It’s not coming out of her salary, so like death and taxes, if you wanna play you gotta pay.
This fee has nothing to do with USTA National or the US Open or the National Campus in Florida. It’s a NorCal specific fee that was solely approved by NorCal’s Board of Directors, 9 of them to be exact.
 

scmyers

New User
Does anyone here have text of the actual fee proposal? Looked through the old ALC and BoD meeting minutes and the in original 2016 proposal, the fees collected would only go back to "clubs", meaning private country/tennis clubs. But in discussion at a later meeting, on of the presenters of the fee proposal says the fees would go to all "member organizations", not just "clubs".
 

zaskar1

Semi-Pro
Fair point.

And there's no rule that says ANY clubs or organizations have to participate in USTA leagues. They have a sovereign right to run their business as they see fit.

Personally I believe its a systemic issue with a given club and they're (the management/directors) blaming league tennis [trying to get money from it] for things they should regulate within their own clubs. I could understand, and maybe go as far as to sympathize, if league play was so rampant that it meant a pro wasn't able to work full-time due to not having a court to teach on. But even then, the more reasonable actions would be to (1) try and fix the system within your own club, especially if you're in a director position and have some authority, or (2) leave and find a job somewhere else. Not to mention, I'm sure there's a nice salary that's included in a country club pro position.

SeeItHitIt -- the facility use fee charged by NorCal to NorCal players would stay in NorCal.
all
as far as i can tell, the usta facility fee of $25 pp season would go to the ustanorcal not to any club facility
some norcal clubs charge members a usta participation fee to cover the cost of courtime. here in lower peninsula no fees for visiting teams, home team provides the courts. most of the teams in our league are a mix of private and municipal clubs.
there is a fee for courtime at some clubs, but the home team pays
z
 
Does anyone here have text of the actual fee proposal? Looked through the old ALC and BoD meeting minutes and the in original 2016 proposal, the fees collected would only go back to "clubs", meaning private country/tennis clubs. But in discussion at a later meeting, on of the presenters of the fee proposal says the fees would go to all "member organizations", not just "clubs".
The 2019 proposal was never published, but in 2010 the fee was supposed to be for “private clubs only.” The language has since been changed to “member facilities,” per the meeting minutes between 2016 and 2019, which means any facility that pays membership fees to USTA. Most of these are private clubs, but there are some public facilities as well.
 
all
as far as i can tell, the usta facility fee of $25 pp season would go to the ustanorcal not to any club facility
some norcal clubs charge members a usta participation fee to cover the cost of courtime. here in lower peninsula no fees for visiting teams, home team provides the courts. most of the teams in our league are a mix of private and municipal clubs.
there is a fee for courtime at some clubs, but the home team pays
z
100% of the $25 will go to “member facilities” which are mostly private clubs. USTA NorCal will see not a single penny and, thus, will NOT be able to use for anything, not grow communities, develop junior programs or any other support a not-for-profit organization would give to its community. This fee is solely for those member orgs, mostly private clubs.
 

2ndServe

Hall of Fame
This is a garbage fee because the club members on usta teams would have likely been using those courts anyways. So there isn't the opportunity cost of courts used at prime time. Also we get a 1pm or later start time at all clubs here, outside courts are all empty at 1pm on Sat/Sun at clubs or public.

Now indoor is different, I'm not sure how crowded indoor courts are at 1pm on a weekend.
 

sweetrugger

New User
Sharing a LONG email from the Board of Directors. I'll add some commentary after.



Dear League Players,

The Directors of the USTA Northern California Board write to you to discuss the pending USTA Northern California Adult League Fee increase. This fee, better known as the "Facility Fee," was passed by the Board of Directors at our December 2019 meeting, reviewed again in February and upheld. It will go into effect April 13, 2020. In addition to the $29 fee you pay to play USTA leagues, an additional $25 will now be charged that will be distributed amongst the member organizations of USTA NorCal.

It is correct that this proposal had been overturned in the past. However, controversial and non-controversial proposals have been heard by the board multiple times in the past as well. Procedurally, this is not unprecedented. Such is the nature of a voting body whose makeup changes over time. It is not uncommon for laws to be heard multiple times before passing as local, state and federal governments change regularly; a non-profit voting board is no different.

Regrettably, this information was leaked outside the board room prematurely causing a section-wide panic and mass confusion. As with any new program, bylaw change, or rule change, our intent is always to properly communicate these changes in a proactive manner and we regret that this goal was not accomplished.

That said, our focus with this letter is to explain the thought process behind this fee increase and clarify why it is necessary. Make no mistake, fee or price increases are never going to be popular. Over the years, USTA League players have objected to small $1 fee increases so we knew this decision was not going to be popular. But tough decisions must be made for the sake of our organization and for the member organizations that deliver our "products" to the individual members. The current league structure simply will not survive with the current fee format.

USTA membership and even league participation has fluctuated over the years but generally remains stagnant and has prevented us from growing the organization as we would like, and other programming is often sacrificed as well. Many of our organizations are full with Adult League play and no opportunity to increase revenue or grow their tennis membership. Our mission is to grow all tennis, not just Adult Leagues and our membership represents a broad base of demographics, ages, geographies etc...

We believe USTA membership continues to be one of the best values on the market, and we believe Adult League costs have been among the most competitively priced adult competition programs in the United States. We want an open dialogue with our membership but have been surprised by the number of people indicating the $29 fee was extremely high. This is definitely not true even within the organization itself. Comparing it to other products the USTA League offers, it is by far a stronger product than any other competitive tennis USTA has to offer. We recognize other Adult League products exist but despite the low cost, we do not feel any substitute offers the structural integrity our programming does, especially the expert management brought to the table by our staff.
Like any other specialty service, we must also consider the extremely high cost of living in Northern California. It can be difficult for our organization to operate under the same umbrella as other sections in the USTA where the cost of living and doing business is substantially lower. It is not unheard of for private tennis coaches to raise their rates $5, $10 sometimes even $20 a year per hour of instruction and while $25 is certainly higher, there has been no progressive increases over the years as we have seen in other parts of the sport.

Our member organization feels that same pinch when faced with the decision to continue to operate or perhaps sell to developers ready to build expensive housing or office space. It’s ironic that much of the feedback aimed at USTA NorCal in response to this fee increase has been to blame “elite clubs” when in reality is those smaller clubs are struggling to stay afloat the most, not the large mega-corporate chain clubs that are already charging their players substantial fees beyond the USTA Adult League Fee. Many of these smaller clubs have resisted such fees but have made clear a correction needs to be made.

Over the years, USTA NorCal heeded the requests of players to form new leagues that are unique to Northern California. As a result, we have more league offerings than any other section in the country. The cost of managing those leagues falls on USTA NorCal and its staff. Our goal has always been to give players the most league options possible. We believe we have achieved that overwhelmingly and will continue to do our best to offer the greatest menu of leagues in the United States.

The mission of the USTA is to grow the sport of tennis and while USTA Adult Leagues are a big part of our organization, many other offerings tend to take a back seat to the popular program, sacrificing our ability to grow our membership for the future health of our organization. There was a time that the greatest organizations in our section were home to top-notch junior programs, but because of the high demand of Adult League Tennis, that has changed dramatically. Our clubs have become home to many Adult League players, and we love that, but it regrettably pushes out those not interested in that type of competition, especially junior players or adults just looking for simple recreation and socializing on the tennis court.

At USTA, we recognize and appreciate the incredible support from individual and family members, our valued customers that play USTA tennis. However, often overlooked is that the Member Organizations that deliver our products (Leagues- Adult and Junior, Tournaments- Adult and Junior and other programs) are also our customers. A member organization may be a big corporate club chain with many facilities to choose from, a smaller independently owned club, a community tennis association, a high school or college among other options. Our organizations represent as diverse of a socioeconomic and geographic group of players as any section in the country.

These member organizations, while charging membership, rarely see any direct financial benefit from USTA leagues. In fact, most sectional and district tournaments are held at the mega-corporate clubs who are compensated for hosting, while the "routine" league matches offer no such benefit to an organization. In order to continue to offer the leagues we do and pay for the infrastructure to manage these leagues, USTA NorCal is simply not able to allocate the standard USTA league fee to these member organizations without sacrificing the service provided by our great staff. Our passionate and dedicated staff work hard to manage the league program, we know that many have professional opportunities elsewhere and we know we are blessed to have a group of people dedicated to the non-profit work supporting the sport that we all love.

By contrast, a club that offers a tournament keeps over 80% of the revenue that comes in but often finds itself the recipient of angry league players who find that not enough league offerings are available and move on to other organizations. Therefore, many clubs stop hosting tournaments and other mixer, inter-club type events.

It has become commonplace for USTA Adult League players to leave clubs and operate out of public facilities. We love our public facilities and welcome more activity on public courts, but inevitably some matches will be played at private clubs that front the cost of the courts, the maintenance, and other overhead in order accommodate these matches. In a nutshell, the club hosting a match pays for every element of a USTA match without any financial benefit and sacrifices its courts in which it could be earning revenue. In many sections in the United States, clubs charge enormous guests fees every time a visiting team comes in to play a match at their club. Imagine a simple guest fee of $10 was charged every time you played at an opposing team’s facility. This would end up being more than $25, notwithstanding the fact that many clubs may charge up to $20 or $25 per match.

There are many misconceptions floating around as a result of this matter and it’s important to set the record straight.

(to be continued...)
 

sweetrugger

New User
(continued...)


There are many misconceptions floating around as a result of this matter and it’s important to set the record straight.

Misconception #1- A Facility Fee is a new idea.

There are several member organizations that surcharge its players for playing in leagues. Ironically, several are among those leading the charge to defeat this facility fee. It's worth noting that these mega-corporate club organizations have enormous influence in the board election process and have wielded such influence for years. Keeping the price of leagues very low has benefited these organizations that turn around and charge enormous fees of its league players at the expense of smaller clubs. Any insinuation that this new policy is elitist is incorrect as the goal is ultimately to level the playing field and assure that all clubs can participate in this popular program. Internally, the true push back is coming from the mega-corporate clubs that can afford to lose members who do not want to pay their high surcharges on league participation.

Several mega-corporate clubs have already been charging a minimum of $25-$40 more per player per league. Others charge hundreds and many players do not think twice about paying this fee to play at their favorite club.


Misconception #2- This is a power grab by the "Country Clubs."

Most member organizations that are "Country Clubs' are independently owned and not a part of any mega-corporate club chains which means that their voting power within the organization is substantially smaller. Ultimately, this matter gained steam as many of these smaller clubs have carried the financial weight of USTA leagues for years whereas the mega-corporate clubs have not been in a position where they cannot still carry other tennis offerings due to the large number of facilities or courts per facility.

The true financial burden of USTA leagues has not been equal across the member organization spectrum and a correction is needed to fix the decades-long structural flaws of USTA leagues. This is not an elitist movement by any stretch as we've been accused. In fact, this is a grassroots movement driven by the power of the many smaller organizations and their players that have sacrificed for decades in order to provide Adult Leagues. Many board members recognized that a change needed to be made and mobilized their efforts. Now the larger, mega-corporate clubs realize that this move has an impact on their bottom line while allowing us to treat the smaller organizations in a more fair manner. In an age of “Big Guy versus “Little Guy” political discourse, we assure you it is the smaller clubs that have been carrying the weight of this program that we are trying to help succeed so that they may continue to contribute to the organization as they have. Does this mean the mega-corporate clubs are not incredibly valuable to USTA success? Of course not! but we cannot survive on those two organizations alone.

Misconception #3- Individual clubs cannot implement their own surcharge.

This is incorrect and several mega-corporate clubs have, and some others charge guests fees. Our goal here is to level the playing field with the hope that this $25 per player, per team fee becomes the norm as opposed to an organization charging $10, $20 or more dollars every time you play a match at their facility. While we can't control what each club does, we would hope you would find it more agreeable to pay $25 extra per season as opposed to that amount 6 to 8 times per season.

Misconception #4- This is unprecedented and perhaps illegal, or not consistent with the purpose of a non-profit organization.

This new facility fee is no different than the cost of USTA tournaments. The cost of USTA tournaments, for example, takes into account all expenses and the clubs are paid for the use of their courts. Even the USTA league districts and sectionals have fees that pay for the use of the courts at these facilities, just not the actual league play.

While many of our Adult League players are not tournament regulars, this fee is consistent with other USTA products that allow a member organization to cover the cost of hosting such leagues. Other sections have similar structures that assist organizations hosting Adult Leagues and many other sections have organizations that charge guests fees on a much more regular basis than we have in NorCal.

Misconception #5- This is a money grab by the powers that be.

We see these fees as a simple cost of doing business, and we hope that these fees will help alleviate some of the pressure of hosting adult leagues such as resurfacing courts. This is hardly a financial windfall for our member organizations. Some may see a few thousand dollars per year as a result.

After more than twenty years of play, most clubs, especially the smaller clubs, have been hurt financially by adult league play where it was once promised to be the saving grace of tennis clubs. Many players have left clubs to play in other settings (parks, schools, public facilities), generally for competitive reasons (stronger teams, more control over who is on the team, less supervision, no need to take into consideration the needs of members, facility, owners, etc… ).

While not discussed publicly every day, we are losing the support of our member organizations. Public facilities are becoming extremely expensive (it is not unheard of for public courts to charge $30-$40 per hour with a minimum number of hours guaranteed.)

Leagues cannot exist without tennis courts, nor can any other USTA tennis programs. We have seen a shrinking of the number of courts (often developed by builders) and an increase in court maintenance fees. A new court costs in the area of $50,000. Rebuilding a court after twenty years when the surface starts to fail is in the neighborhood of $50,000. Just keeping the surface up every 5-10 years costs on average between $5,000-$10,000 depending on how many cracks, etc need to be repaired. Washing the courts and maintaining the nets and equipment costs money, staff that manages a club, cleans, gardens. Those who build and maintain the courts do not work for free. We cannot continue to keep asking our smaller organizations to cover the cost of our business.

Without an immediate correction, we feel the long term sacrifice will actually fall on league players who find that only the mega-corporate clubs have the facilities and room to host Adult Leagues and tournaments, and will find themselves traveling very long distances in order to participate in a "routine" league match.

USTA NorCal and its board of directors would prefer not to have to increase pricing but in order to save the future of this program and our organization, this correction is very much needed. While this $25 fee increase may on the surface seem large, ultimately we still believe that USTA Adult Leagues are the most reasonable and valuable adult competitive sports league in the country and it's a small price to pay to assure that we have the facilities to keep it successful for decades to come.

The current board of directors is in a difficult position in which it can make an attempt to protect the future of this organization, or allow the status quo to continue, which may be less controversial now but unsustainable long-term.

We appreciate your long standing support of USTA NorCal and its Adult League program but believe that much misinformation about this issue has been disseminated and wanted to respond with factual data.
 

sweetrugger

New User
My commentary - based on some history on the topic that I've seen, the club owners/representatives have taken over a majority stake on the Board in the last couple of years. I find this message to be ridiculous, short-sighted, and misleading at best and blatant misinformation at worst.

That being said, I've seen other posts about the higher costs per league in other sections, so curious what others are thinking of this.
 

sam_p

Professional
It reads like a load of crap. I belong to a club that charges a surcharge for league per season and charges per match (indoors) - no one complains, but they are complaining about this. The charges to play at a specific club are obviously tied to that specific club and related to costs there (for court time, bar fees, balls).

I also play at a smaller private club that doesn't charge court fees but does charge for balls (or you can bring them). However, all the players either are members and pay monthly dues or are non-members who pay a fee per season to play as a non-member. This also is clearly associated with club costs to provide courts for USTA matches. I imagine that even if this outdoor club said that they were going to charge an additional $5 per match to play there would be grumbling but end of the day everyone would understand because we all know the club finances are run close to the bone.

I also sometimes play on public court teams - they also charge for courts or require membership for the year in a local tennis "club" for about $60. This also goes to local group directly.

The fee being levied by Norcal central is a money grab. They provide no plan or transparency about how this gets transferred to the "member organizations". It seems likely to be a slush fund for Norcal to support whatever priorities their board decides to get behind.
 

schmke

Hall of Fame
It reads like a load of crap. I belong to a club that charges a surcharge for league per season and charges per match (indoors) - no one complains, but they are complaining about this. The charges to play at a specific club are obviously tied to that specific club and related to costs there (for court time, bar fees, balls).

I also play at a smaller private club that doesn't charge court fees but does charge for balls (or you can bring them). However, all the players either are members and pay monthly dues or are non-members who pay a fee per season to play as a non-member. This also is clearly associated with club costs to provide courts for USTA matches. I imagine that even if this outdoor club said that they were going to charge an additional $5 per match to play there would be grumbling but end of the day everyone would understand because we all know the club finances are run close to the bone.

I also sometimes play on public court teams - they also charge for courts or require membership for the year in a local tennis "club" for about $60. This also goes to local group directly.

The fee being levied by Norcal central is a money grab. They provide no plan or transparency about how this gets transferred to the "member organizations". It seems likely to be a slush fund for Norcal to support whatever priorities their board decides to get behind.
What you describe, individual clubs/facilities determining what to charge for a USTA League team to play at their facility, is exactly how it should be. No one is asking them to do it for free and lose money on doing so, clearly some clubs do charge today and do so to cover their costs, but they must still be competitive with other clubs lest they price themselves too high and teams decide to play elsewhere. If, as the letter implies, there are smaller clubs that are losing money because they host USTA League teams, it is on them to figure out the right price structure for membership or a team fee or whatever for it to make sense. If they feel USTA League is taking up too many courts, raise the prices, teams may go elsewhere and free up courts and if that is what they want, they control that.

Let supply and demand determine what happens, don't tax everyone to bail out a few that can't have a good business plan.
 
Top