Thank you for your patience and understanding as we deliberate over a return-to-play scenario. Here is the latest from the TCC and what we need from you in terms of input before we can start the season:
PURPOSE OF EMAIL AND TCC UPDATE
I heard from the TCC last week and they are willing to put the ice in mid-September as long as it is financially feasible for them to do so. What that means is that they are demanding that we and the other ice groups in town use the TCC like a hockey rink before they will put the ice in. The good news is that we will have access to more ice than we've ever had before. The bad news is that, among other factors I will outline, it will make hockey much more expensive than it has been in the past. In addition, with the adult league cancelled and the AHL and UA pushed back, it's really up to us, as the largest group, to rent enough ice to make it worthwhile for the TCC to put the ice in before the big Roadrunners need it in mid November. The hourly ice rate was also increased about 20% from last season and we simply cannot put as many players on the ice at the same time as we normally do. Of course, this is our greatest cost saving measure as well so all of that account for the increase costs figures you will see in this email.
SAFETY PROTOCOLS AND BUILDING NUMBERS
As the Coaching Director it's up to me to set the safety protocols where I can best mitigate the spread risk to the coaching staff and the players. To that end, in all of the scenarios that I will lay out, these protocols will not change, not matter what the State, County, City or CDC might say. These are very strict and there is a zero tolerance policy for them, meaning the first violation that I see I will pull the coaches off of the ice and effectively shut the entire program down. There is no way we can ensure 100% safety, but these strict protocols are our best chance. In addition, the TCC currently has a 50 person limit in the building. Again, another basic protocol is we simply cannot, and should not, put as many kids on the ice as we normally do. We will spread out our groups to no more than 40 skaters per session. We will space out our groups to ensure this. For you parents, the downside is the cost of hockey will increase heavily because of this; our numbers are what keep our costs low and we are losing that advantage under these protocols. However, it does mean our kids would get a lot more ice time and uninterrupted ice for the foreseeable future which is something we've never had. Here are the main protocols for not only the TCC but travel as well if we decide to do that:
(1) Only players and coaches plus one or two parents (total, not per player) as protocol supervisors in the building. I am trying to convince the TCC to allow for pick up and drop off in the service area and rubber mats to go out through the bank of doors to help facilitate that and reduce parents and siblings in the buildings. The TCC wanted to do this anyway but I am putting this in place for the entire season.
(2) All players and coaches must wear masks and face shields in the changing area. Coaches and the one or two parents will help tie skates with gloves on. To that end, for the younger groups, we will not be able to shepherd players to and from the bathroom. All younger players must be able to get through their skating time without needing a bathroom break.
(3) Coaches and parents must wear masks and face shields at all times.
(4) Players must stay at least 6 feet apart in the changing area. This is an area where the TCC is actually an advantage. Without the need for the bleachers that run right to the boards, we can space out our players prior to them taking the ice and separate groups entering and leaving the ice.
(5) 8U and 10U players must be dressed except for skates, helmets and gloves upon arrival. I strongly encourage bottom half as a minimum for 12U and 14U. I am working with the TCC for logistics for pick up and drop off in the service area and mats that run to the drop off area so you can drop off and pick up your player(s) fully dressed. For the younger players, we will not be able to facilitate bathroom breaks during the ice hour. We expect all younger players to be able to get through their skating time without needing a bathroom break.
(6) Any player that the coaching staff or designated parents deem to exhibit COVID symptoms will not be allowed on the ice and please withhold your player(s) if they exhibit any symptoms. I think this will be necessary once it is cold and flu season.
(7) For travel home games, if we decide to go forward with travel, only the coaches, one penalty box attendant, two parents for the scoreboard and scoresheet, and one parent to record and/or livestream the game to Facebook or some other medium will be allowed in the building.
(8) For travel road games, if we decide to go forward with travel, only the coaches and one parent for the penalty box will be allowed into the building. The Phoenix rinks all have Live Barn for online viewing purposes.
SEASON COSTS AND INPUT NEEDED
With the higher hourly ice costs and lower number of players allowed on the ice per practice, costs will be significantly higher this season. The following figures are ESTIMATES of the potential registration fees for a potential 2020-21 season. Please keep in mind that these costs use some pretty general statistical assumptions and could potentially change based on the level of interest that we are looking to gauge with this questionnaire. Please keep in mind that if we are able to move forward with a season, we will be collecting registration fees on a month-to-month basis due to the uncertainty of how a season could play out. Further, any monthly fees that we collect will be non-refundable, as we will need to commit to covering certain costs for the month, regardless of whether or not families continue through the end of the month or not. This is also intended to ensure that we can pay our monthly bills, and still minimize the financial risk of registering for an upcoming month if there were to be another shut-down.
The following estimates represent costs through certain milestones during the season and do not represent a month-to-month cost, rather they represent costs through a projected AHL return in December, and a full-season projection:
The following numbers are based on 3 touches per week:
House (Through 11/30): $775
House (full-season Projections): $2,315
House (Through 11/30): $985
House (full-season Projections): $2,960
House (Through 11/30): $1,175
House (full-season Projections): $3,520
House (Through 11/30): $1,485
House (full-season Projections): $4,455
We recognize that there is a depth of considerations behind this decision, so we want to hear your feedback. Using the above assumptions regarding costs and protocols, we hope that you will take a moment to answer the survey here with your preferences. As the situation is fluid, we will take your feedback and make some final decisions and be back in touch with you all as soon as we can review your feedback. Please keep in mind that your responses are in no way binding, and we are simply looking to understand what our families are thinking about the potential to commence a season, and under what timeline.
Given the impact of all of the above information, and understanding the steep costs to put on a season under these circumstances, we ant to give every family the opportunity to give their feedback. Please take a moment to complete the following survey about the return-to-play scenario that has been laid out.
Our entire staff and Board of Directors has anguished over these protocols and costs, and while this is not the return we were all hoping for, it is the reality that we are faced with during a very difficult and unpredictable time. Thank you all for providing your feedback. We will listen to everyone and communicate with each of you again soon regarding how we are able to move forward.
Tucson Junior Roadrunners