- teams want to play in 4gg tournaments so account for that
- think of the rule sets - are you player pitch? Coach pitch instead of walks? Coach pitch instead of walking in a run? Are you allowing wide open stealing where they leave on release or only one per batter, etc.?
- 4gg means you really need 6-8 teams and 2 fields for most of 2 days
- you need at least one ump for every game
- you need to decide length of games (at least 70 minutes)
Start making a list or crib from nearby tournaments you like - they'll usually share ump contacts and tournament designs as long as you're not the same weekend as them.
First question: why? Are you wanting to do it as a fundraiser (for your team or a charity)? Are you wanting a side hustle to make money? Are you just wanting a place for your team to play?
Second question: what is the level of play? You will get advice from many people on here that is geared towards competitive ball (4 game guarantee, etc.). You need to know what you are building before you build it.
After you answer those, start small, learn your lessons, and build from there.
If you have never done this before, start with a three-team round robin on a Saturday morning. Start to learn about the things coaches rarely consider: logistics, concessions, and umpires.
My best piece of advice when you get ready to do a "real" tournament ... do not coach. You will have far too much to do and it isn't fair to your team. Some will disagree, but I believe a tournament director should NEVER be coaching a team in the tournament. If your team is playing, let the assistants coach.
Our team is looking to host an 8-team, A level tourney in the Spring. The team is totally excited about it. I'm worried.
We have fields, field crew, and umpires already. Getting the other teams will be easy. With that said, and some huge pieces out of the way, I'm still worried.
The team fees barely cover umpires. So profit is made from concessions and gate fees. And while this is a fund-raiser, we also want the teams we invite to have fun and feel it was a great and worthwhile weekend. And to THE MAN IN BLUE's comments above, we won't expect our coaching staff to help. So that's 4 less parents to help out.
Entry fees covering your umpires and little else is a pretty common business model. Like you said, the profit comes from the ancillary things: gate fees, concessions, merchandise, 50/50, etc.
Since you want this to be fun, incorporate some other activities! Of course, that means more work though. I've seen tourneys host a bowling tournament at a local bowling alley at night, provide a father-daughter dance at night, go to a minor league baseball or college softball game, or just host an outdoor movie night on one of the field that evening.
Theme contests are great way to bring added fun if you are raising money for a charity. You can even challenging teams to raise money outside the tournament for an added competition.
You mention you are targeting spring ... Major League Baseball offers a couple of free competition events you could incorporate. I loved using their Pitch, Hit, and Run to kick off our rec league season's "Opening Day" event. (I have a different way of running it that would be great in conjunction with a tournament). They also offer a Home Run Derby, but I don't have any experience with that.
DD's team just ran a tournament, baseball and softball, over 50 teams combined I think. Tournament was low B type tournament with low entry fee. One of the AC's has been running it for a while when he was a HC for his older DD's team. Had HR derby, fastest pitch and fastest around the base contest. DD's team played in it (14U team played up 16's/18's). Each kid had to have a parent help out running it (I ran the HR derby) For about 15-20 hours of work (for me at least) each kid netted about 2K.
I run a one-day tourney for our local school FP Assn. 24-30 teams in different age groups over Saturday and Sunday. As TD, I have to be available all the time for questions, issues, record results, and to serve as host. Welcome your guests and establish a rapport with the coaches. I learned I can't do that driving the field groomer between games, fetching cases of pop to re-stock the coolers, or standing at the grill flipping burgers. You need people to make this go smoothly. How many depends on the size of your tourney. I have sign-ups well in advance to cover concession shifts, grill master, field crew. I have a concession manager so I can focus solely on the tournament. I have a nurse (wife) on-site the whole tourney with a 1st Aid Kit and defib. available.
Final note, seriously assess your facility's facilities. Nothing worse than not enough portas or not well maintained portas. Get them serviced or more units delivered right before the tourney. If you have running water facilities, that is a Godsend.
Think of what will separate you from other tournaments - typically, that comes down to 1) bathroom facilities 2) concessions 3) well run and laid out games. If you can lock down those 3 things you will have a good tournament. Yes, having a photographer service or radar throwing game is fun, but those things will not make up for having poor bathrooms or under maned concessions.
Tournament shirts - you will make more money if you do that in house and do a simple 1 color shirt, but it will likely not turn out well. Most girls want tie-dyed custom shirts, so unless you want to be stuck with a bunch of 1 color shirts that you can't give away, outsource the shirts to a company and be happy to make less on shirts.
Game play - be very upfront about the rules. Is it drop dead, complete the inning, what is the time limit? The longer the games the happier your teams will be (I think an hour 20 is always a good compromise).
If you have more than a handful of teams, have an online bracket available to update who is coming, results/scores. People are competitive. They want to see results of games and who they are playing. You can use an online service like Tourney Machine or others to manage the bracket online.
Finally - have a weather contingency. Know your capabilities. How much water can your fields take? Do you have people who can work the night before or 5am the morning of to get fields in shape? Do you have quick dry on hand? Having weather issues sucks, but it's part of the game. Always be transparent with your decisions, and be sure to make the calls early enough in case you have teams that are traveling.