Waupun Hockey and Little League Unite to Request City Prioritize Sports With ARPA Funds

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WAUPUN — Leadership from the Waupun Hockey Association and Waupun Little League met Monday night to put together a collective argument to the City Council to allocate more ARPA funding to community sports. This comes in response to the Waupun City Council deprioritizing parks and sports at the ARPA Workshop Common Council meeting last week.

The individuals involved are Tyler Loomans and Lucas Dawson of the Waupun Hockey Association and Ryan Hopp of Waupun Little League. Last year both organizations approached the City Council about receiving a portion of the ARPA funds and their need for assistance in facility maintenance.

ARPA funds are meant to go towards community programs that were or continue to be impacted by the effects of the 2020 pandemic shutdown. In this, Waupun Hockey and Waupun Baseball both wish to make their bid towards a portion of the ARPA funds by collectively lobbying to the Council, which would help fund sports facility upgrades and keep them running well into the future.

While Waupun Hockey was still able to play in the 2020-2021 season, the season was stunted by countless restrictions on game times, audience size, and facility-wide sanitation.

“When the shutdown happened, we had to have an hour between games,” Dawson said. “We had to sanitize the rink and we had to clear the rink out for that. We were doing probably a third of the games that we’re doing this year. You take that out, that was two-thirds of the teams not coming to the city anymore.”

“Varsity games couldn’t be attended by the general public,” Loomans added. “Only immediate family were allowed to attend our games during that year. And one of our primary methods of revenue generation is through gate money, so we lost out on quite a bit.”

They continued on to describe how the number of spectators in the rink was limited, as well as the cancellation of several hockey tournaments. Thankfully, by the 2021-2022 hockey season many of the restrictions had been lifted, but the residual effects could still be felt by the loss of almost a year’s worth of revenue and the loss of several players who did not return for the next season.

Due to the baseball season being in the spring at the height of the pandemic shutdowns, Waupun Little League suffered losses in every category in 2020. And while the baseball season returned mostly to normal in 2021, they still haven’t recovered to pre-2020 player counts. 

“In 2019 we had 360 players come out for the summer season and in the next season we had 245,” Hopp said. “We lost revenue from roughly 115 kids, and from no concessions during the 2020 season. We were heavily restricted on travel ball as well, for what teams we could have and how many games could run.”

The Waupun Little League spends $10,000 to $20,000 a year on facility maintenance and upgrades. After all expenses are paid for the year, Waupun Little League nets about $30,000 a year. Due to the restrictions during the 2020, the Waupun Little League lost out on an estimated $30,000, both from the loss of player registrations and from concessions.

While both Waupun Hockey and Little League have suffered with the results of the pandemic shutdowns, they see the ARPA funds as an opportunity to update and improve their respective facilities. Waupun Hockey needs to replace the aging Community Center floor which hasn’t been replaced since the 1970s and will cost upwards of $800,000. Similarly, the Waupun Baseball Complex needs to replace the field turf as it is beginning to reach the end of its fifteen year lifespan, which will cost an estimated $600,000

Both organizations stressed the importance of their facilities for bringing in sports teams and their families to spend money in Waupun during tournaments, and both intend to speak at the next City Council meeting.