Stay to Play policy has local youth soccer talking

Stay to Play policy has local youth soccer talking

staytoplayby David Falk

So you want to enter your team into that big tournament? No problem. Just go to the tournament website and follow the instructions. More and more often one of those instructions will be a “stay to play” requirement. You have to stay in one of the tournament’s partner hotels in order to play in that competition.

This week’s Crossfire Challenge at 60 Acres in Redmond is a “stay to play” tournament. See the announcement they posted below:

“The 2013 Nike Crossfire Challenge is a “stay and play” tournament. Teams participating in the NCC requiring overnight accommodations must stay at a one of the hotel options below. Once you book your team at one of the tournament hotels, team managers should email the team name, hotel and confirmation number to tournament hotel liaison Tony 
Mercado ( Out of town teams will not be eligible to participate in the tournament unless the hotel reservation is confirmed.”

This is not sitting well with some posters over at, who see these kinds of “forced” requirements as another way to bilk money out of parents and traveling teams. There is considerable suspicion about rates being hiked up. Further, there is discontent that good old American “freedom of choice” is being violated without good reason. noticed this trend in soccer tournaments a year ago and looked into it. It is a tricky requirement and all sorts of things can go wrong, either at the team, hotel, or tournament management level.

It’s a matter of fairness. Can hotels keep decent rates and apply them evenly to ALL teams? Families?

From the article:

“Many of the misconceptions and reluctance to use ‘Stay to Play’ comes from experiences with poorly-designed and poorly-executed policies. Event organizers must make sure that the hotels and event participants have a clear understanding of the policy. Event organizers must be diligent in enforcing the policy with teams as well as with hotels. Event organizers must do periodic audits to make sure that hotels are holding to the terms of the agreement, particularly those preventing the hotels from offering lower rates than the tournament rate during event dates. Organizers must be willing to enforce their policy with the participants and have the means to cross-check the teams who have applied and those who have booked rooms. In addition, if any teams have special circumstances, try to work with those teams to incorporate their special needs into the hotel room blocks.”

Just google the term “stay to play” and you will be led to scores of articles and forums about the movement, and also the online backlash from parents who are pretty tapped-out already. Now hunting for the “best hotel deal” for their teams is becoming a vanishing option.

The “key” to these tournament-hotel partnerships is of course that the tournament sends the business, and the hotels reward them with a “kick back,” cash for being sent the customers.

One angry WPS-Soccer poster wrote: It isn’t a smart revenue stream.  It’s naked greed.  It’s one thing to make people use particular hotels, but then the rates are jacked up 30% or more.  We had a hotel for the Mt. Hood challenge last year for $129.  So our hotel coordinator went online and got the same rooms at the same hotel for $89.  When we cancelled the “stay and play” reservations, the tournament people freaked out and went on to tell us how they were offended because they seek out the lowest rates possible?!  Sickening! 

Some reports have said that “stay to play” has actually resulted in lower team hotel room rates, such as this set of data from Salt Lake and Atlanta a few years ago.

One WPS-Soccer poster has doubts. Tournaments already cost a lot, along with travel costs. It’s ridiculous that a family can book a room at the same hotel for less if they do it on their own and do not mention the tournament at all. There is no need to upcharge rooms and cost parents more, the concept is ridiculous.

As the graphic above from the Crossfire Challenge website shows, local hotels are “sold out” for the tournament.


One thought on “Stay to Play policy has local youth soccer talking

  1. Wasn’t stay and play a casino concept first? Hmmmm gambling….Casino…Bingo…LWYSA? Coincidence? I think not? lol

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