TD Tools: Creating a Tournament Budget – Cost Estimates

by | October 21, 2011, 3:19pm 0

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Ultimate has the exponential growth to become an international household name, but it’s how we grow the sport that will affect how quickly and in what way this will occur. Tournament Directors play a large part in expansion of the sport, in that every player has to start someplace, and it’s the best experiences that harbor the most growth. This is not the answer all of how an event should be ran, as every event is different, but this should cover many of the bases in order to start a successful event.

Any tournament director’s first concern should be not losing money and their second concern should be keeping the cost reasonable for players. This creates a fine line for providing enough to keep players happy while providing a low enough cost to draw teams in. To accomplish this, it’s best to create a list of necessary aspects vs things to make your event stand out.


Field cost is the main issue that can come up, and depending on how many teams you want to come can dictate the number of fields necessary. For 6 fields or less, you can likely get city parks or the fields donated, but for numbers higher than that you generally need to look at soccer parks, polo grounds, and other complexes to find the space and resources you need. These aspects will make your tournament easier, but many of them rent out for between $1000 and $5000 a weekend.

Facilities (Porta potties, showers, camping)

Your next cost will be toilets at a general cost of $100 per unit per weekend. If you’re at a complex that has facilities, that can help, but park representatives are a fan of public urination, so you will want additional if your fields are spread apart. For 6 fields or less, you can get by with one per day. As you add more teams, fields, and time they will be there (ie. tournament party, camping) you will need to take that into consideration. Here is a best estimate of how many will be necessary:

  • 4-8 teams = 1 porta potty
  • 9-12 teams = 2
  • 12-24 teams = 3
  • 20-28 = 4

Past that, you want a porta potty between every group of 4 fields. If you have camping or a tournament party away from a shelter with running water, you will want to figure 3 porta potties per 6 fields with another set of 3 near tournament/party central. Invest in 2 spare rolls of TP for each one as well.

Food (Bananas, bagels)

Ultimate players expect bananas and bagels, and everything past that is generally considered ‘above and beyond’. Numbers for food is 20lbs of bananas (one case) for every 12 teams at a general cost of $18 per case and 12 bagels per team at around $5 a dozen. Players don’t need lunch provided, but should be warned ahead of time. However, if you do need to feed your participants it can be very expensive, and can run $10 a person for food, beverages, etc. All inclusive pasta meal is a great choice, but even if you go for a less expensive option such as sub platters, additional costs such as chips, cookies, and beverages can quickly bring the cost up. Also be aware that some teams will bring more players than others, so you must either let these teams know you will only provide enough for a certain number of their players, require a count/roster from those teams, or have a plan to feed those extra players.


With water, you always want more rather than less. Heat obviously plays the biggest factor, but a general rule is to give access to 4 gallons of water per day per team for average or low temperatures and 8+ gallons that if the temperature is above 85 degrees Fahrenheit. 5 gallon water coolers at around $30 each are a good investment for any annual event, but require a lot of storage for the off season. Individual gallons of water are a great reusable resource at around $0.50 per gallon, but are frequently difficult to transport. Feel free to talk to local supermarkets and water distributors, as often times it’s a great way for them to offer support for your event.

Other Considerations

As a tournament gets larger, so does the cost and there is a reverse bell curve between number of attendees and cost for additional amenities, with the bottom cost at around 12 to 16 teams. Local charity events (6-12 teams) can run at a cost of around $50 per team, as often times the fields will be donated, but as the event gets larger there are other requirements that come up. Directors of large tournaments need to consider aspects such as insurance requirements, signage, tournament guides, schwag for volunteers and staff, gear sales, golf carts, field lining, tents, tables and chairs, and entertainment.

Take a 32 team tournament as an example. It’s generally safe to estimate 20 players a team, which makes 640 participants to plan for. To charge $250 a team would give you an $8000 budget, in which case you will need to make some tough choices on where to allocate the funds. Sales of schwag and others can make up for the difference, but it’s tough to estimate shirt, food, and beverage sales, with overestimating having a possibility of costing you money in the long run. In past experiences, it’s a good idea to plan for one in every thirty dollars to go towards miscellaneous funds, as there is always an unexpected cost that will come up. (ie. $500 for every $15000)

In order to advance the sport, we need to hold every event to a standard that offers the same experience to the top tier teams as the newer, less experienced teams. And, every tournament director should have a dream for their event that should grow as the event grows. Taking these things into account, the decision still remains ‘what you want your event to be’, and it’s likely that the best tournament ideas have not even been born yet.

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