Sponsored/ Free Events

We have been hosting sponsored/ free events for several years now. We averaged 4 per year. (one for each elementary school in district). These events are on a weekday and we provide free pizza and drinks to all that attend with extras for parents and siblings. Our community is well off and is more than happy to host / sponsor these events for the teams that surround our district that are mostly urban and rural that can attend. It gave kids on both sides a common ground and an opportunity to interact with schools that are very different in terms of demographics. It was an opportunity for our middle school teams and high school students to get service hours helping run the event. For many teams outside of our district that attended it was the only event that their school could afford to send their teams to for the season.

I was just notified by our new ESS that they will not be approving any free/ sponsored events due to the fact that they have implemented a $45 min event fee in Alabama and that these weekday free event are the cause of some weekend events not filling to capacity and therefore those programs are not making the money they expect off an event which leads to their program not being sustainable.

Does anyone else hold free/ sponsored supported events in their area and run into this problem?

Are other states implementing a minimum registration fee?


In Southeast Texas we have had a $50 for IQ and $100 for VRC minimum fee for several years now. It has greatly helped to level out the size and demand for events. There is nothing to say that you cannot invite teams and mark them paid in the system, effectively not charging them. There’s several reasons you might do that.

I have a large number of schools in my district and the money all comes and goes from the same place. It makes no sense for me to invoice myself for all those registrations, I just have to eventually settle the $5 per team fee in robotevents.

I have also made a number of entry fee swaps with other local event partners. Again, the goal is to prevent the money shuffle that makes no sense. Our athletics programs here have similar structures for preseason tournaments in basketball, volleyball, etc. If I send 5 teams to yours and you send 5 teams to mine, what’s the point in doing all the paperwork?

If there is a team that needs help and can provide volunteers to judge/referee/inspect/etc. and you want to comp their fees, you are doing an even better service to those teams. Not only are you providing them an event to play in, but you are helping them to train adults that can help them to host their own event in the future.

That said, in my previous position the robotics club hosted all the events and used the school gym at no charge. The school had a competition fund that paid for entry fees into events. Because entry fees were the student organization’s money we charged our own school for the fees to play in our event. In that scenario, we didn’t offer entry swaps to anyone because we would be taking money from the student organization.


Not allowing free events goes truly against the spirit of getting kids involved, excited about STEM, siblings involved etc. if that truly is the new policy that is beyond sad!!


Just to be clear, admission for spectators would still be free, correct? The only change is mandating registration fees for competing teams?

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Yes. They are just implementing a min $45 event charge for an event to be approved, even if the event is fully sponsored and the EP doesn’t need to charge for the event.

If they require events to keep their program afloat they they aren’t running it properly. I like the money that I make off of events but it has never been a big % of what I need to run my program.

Tell the teams to add themselves to the waitlist. You go on the admin side, add them to the event and mark them as paid. It’s free!

This is ridiculous that they did this without consulting with the EP’s that will have to implement this policy.


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