Running a league is a business, even if it’s a small one. While the mission and goals may be different depending on the league it’s still a business, nonprofit or not doesn’t matter. You still need to cover your costs, and hopefully make more in your net revenue than your expenses. Starting a league can feel a bit daunting, but that in and of itself shouldn’t deter you from starting if you’re willing to put in the work.
Leagues take work and time. Depending on your sport, access to players, facility, and funds you it will likely take a while to get it off the ground. As a result you’ll likely need to rely on volunteers as much as you can since it’s not likely you’ll be able to pay their services at the beginning. In your business plan you should have all of that outlined long before start. Don’t get ahead of yourself. If you don’t have a business plan make one. I talk a lot about making a plan before you get started. There’s a reason for that, and it’s mostly built around thinking ahead and being prepared to make the right steps so you can avoid potential pitfalls. The last thing you want to have happen is invest in something that fails before you get started. Set yourself up for success.
The majority of your revenue will come from league fees, and how you get to that price point should be well thought out. You should have a very clear understanding of your expenses, and the number of people or teams needed in your league to breakeven. Spend time researching what other leagues are doing so you have an understanding of the market. If your product is different from a competitor and want to price it higher you better be able to show why you product is superior for the higher cost. Even then it may not work, but you want to have as much information so you can make an educated decision instead of an impulsive one. Again, all of this should be in your business plan. Think each process through.
While the majority of revenue will derive from league fees it’s worth looking into other viable options to make more revenue. With a league you should already have a captivated audience that you can tap into. Concessions is a great way to provide more service to you customers while increasing revenue. If you’re renting a facility you’ll need to check the rental agreement on doing this, and you’ll also need to add in a retail component within your business license. Each State and City may have different regulations and taxes pertaining to retail concessions so make sure to be aware of the requirements and make sure you have the necessary documents.
When thinking about concessions think about the amount of time, resources, and regulations needed to operate within the law. Simply grilling burgers on your grill and selling them will likely be more involved than that, and any prepared food will require food handler permits, and be prepared to be inspected at any time for any rule or regulation. In the end going that route might be more trouble than it’s worth. My personal preference when looking at concessions is to go the route of pre-packaged food. There’s a variety of options out there from ordering online through wholesale stores, to finding food stores that sell with restaurants in mind. With pre-packaged you don’t need to prepare anything, you have very minimal food loss or spoilage in the long term. You can accurately account for retail and track your potential gross and net much easier. This will allow you to more effectively chart and plan out what you costs will be in the long term. I’ve done both, and there are pluses and minuses to both. If you’re choosing between the two I’d start with pre-packaged and build from there. Either way it’s worth looking into as another stream of revenue.