Board: Lower Game Prices

MOUNDSVILLE – Citing decreasing participation in high school and middle school sporting events, members of the Marshall County Board of Education believe lowering ticket prices will encourage more students and families to come to games.

Students and parents in the county pay $3-$5 to attend high school athletic events, but board members urged the schools’ athletic directors at this week’s board meeting to lower the price to either $1 or $2 per game, saying the higher prices may be preventing people from attending.

“We are in economically challenging times,” Superintendent Fred Renzella said during the Tuesday meeting. “It’s prohibitive for families, particularly if you have a child in more than one sport.”

Charles Duckworth, athletic director of John Marshall High School, said lowering ticket prices would make a sizable cut to the athletic department budget, which funds uniforms, helmets, sports trips and other costs. He estimated lowering the price would cut 30 percent of the department’s revenue.

“If you look at football, we spent $48,000,” Duckworth said. “A football helmet costs $225 with a life expectancy of four years. A pair of shoulder pads range anywhere from $174 to $480 a pair. It costs over $1,000 to put a kid on a football field, and we have about 100 players.”

Duckworth also cited other necessary expenses such as field maintenance, awards, jerseys and officials. Duckworth estimated the high school’s athletic department spends about $23,000 a year to pay officials alone.

“I haven’t raised ticket prices in eight years,” Duckworth said. “However, the cost of everything else keeps going up and up.”

Duckworth said if ticket prices would be lowered, someone else would have to pick up the tab. He said Ohio County Schools helps offset costs by paying for the athletic department’s uniforms.

Tim Brown, athletic director at Cameron High School, said ticket prices for baseball and softball games in Cameron are $3, while football and basketball games cost $3 for students and $5 for adults.

Brown also said county and school employees, as well as senior citizens, attend games for free.

“For the athletic department as its own entity, our only source of income we have is ticket prices,” Brown said. “It’s hard to stay out of the red if you don’t have some sort of income.”