Tier 2 junior hockey has become an expensive sport for owner-operators to be involved in.
Unlike the Ontario Hockey League — where huge fan support and corporate-sponsorship dollars have allowed the major junior loop to become the $200 million business that it is — mere survival is often a month-to-month, season-to-season way of life in lower-level junior.
Which is why — as examples — Tier 2 teams in Ontario and Tier 3 teams in the Midwest area of the United States are making the pay-to-play model the way to go.
Without pay-to-play, the vast majority of teams in leagues such as the Central Canada Hockey League, Ontario Jr. Hockey League, Greater Metro Jr. Hockey League, Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League, Superior International Jr. Hockey League, MidWest Jr. Hockey League and North American 3 Hockey League would be unable to survive.
As costs associated with owning a lower-level junior team rise while revenues remain about the same, pay-to-play has become a necessity.
If parents, fans and supporters happen to think that just their team is charging players to play, think again.
In both the CCHL and the OJHL, the standard player fee is $4,500 a year plus room and board and even higher in the GMJHL.
In the NOJHL, seven of the eight teams charge a player fee of anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000. (Only the Abitibi Eskimos don’t charge their players and team president Scott Marshall is on record as saying the Iroquois Falls-based club is tens of thousands of dollars in debt.)
South of the border, in the MWJHL and NA3HL, player fees are anywhere from $5,000-$10,000 a year plus room and board.
Junior hockey, to be sure, is becoming a very-expensive undertaking.
And the fact of the matter is, if parents want their kids to play, they have to pay.
It’s just the way it is these days.