How to Plan a Sports Event Budget

If you’ve been asked to help manage a tennis or golf tournament, 5K run or other sporting event, creating an accurate budget is critical to your success. Dividing your planning into smaller segments will help you plan your spending step by step. Consider all of the needs of participants, spectators, officials, sponsors and organizers in order to hit a home run with your event instead of striking out.

Meet with the event organizers to learn all of their goals for the event. Ask if the event has a set budget or if you need to operate based on revenues, such as registration fees, donations and sponsorships. Ask if the organization has a fundraising or profit goal. Some events, such as corporate golf tournaments, are considered an expense, especially if they are held in conjunction with a conference.

Contact your local municipality to learn the laws governing sporting events, such as how much insurance you’ll need to carry and if you’ll need permits, toilets, police or medical staff.

Divide your planning into sections that include budgets for the following needs: participants, spectators, volunteers, officials, sponsors, media, trainer or medical staff, organizers, logistics and marketing. Write a list of things each needs. For example, spectators might need seating, a program book and refreshments. Marketing requires pre-event press releases and website pages, event-day signage and photography, and post-event announcements.

Write a list of non-people needs on the day of the event, including location fees, equipment, setup and takedown, insurance, catering, signage and publicity, gift bags, photography, printing, shirts, tables, booths, seating, public address system, prizes, awards, electricity, security, parking, tents and publicity.

Project your attendance and staff needs. Create a spreadsheet that lists all of your people's and logistics needs. Fill in your anticipated expenses for each. Compare your expenses to your anticipated revenues or budget you’ve been given by the event organizers. Look for expenses you can cut if your first budget draft doesn't meet your financial goals.

Look for expenses for which you can trade sponsorships, goods or services. For example, you might be able to trade sponsorships for courtesy vehicles, a public address system, shirts, food and beverage and printing. Look for in-kind donations you can use to defray costs. A caterer might trade food for your volunteers in exchange for the opportunity to sell to spectators. A printer might trade printing for four golf tee times.

Re-configure your budget after you have examined your first draft. Decide if you need to eliminate any offerings or raise the price of your registration fees and sponsorships.


About the Author

Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.