KODIAK -- Reduced ferry service to southwest Alaska has forced teams in Kodiak to either fly to road games, which is more expensive, or cut down on travel altogether.
For years, the state ferry system has given the school district a deal, making the ferry more affordable than flying. But with the ferry Tustumena laid up for repairs, teams are looking at the more costly option of flying, KMXT reported Thursday.
The Kodiak football team's eight-week season includes seven weeks with ferry travel. The schedule for the ferry Kennicott, which has picked up additional sailings between Kodiak and Homer, did not match the football schedule, requiring air travel for three games.
For one trip, 60 players could ride the ferry for about $4,000. Flying costs more than $13,000.
Kodiak High School athletic director Bryan Ferris estimated an additional $27,000 is being spent on football travel alone this year. If Kodiak makes the playoffs, money will have to be found for one to three weeks of additional travel.
"Cost to the district and to these clubs and booster club is astronomical not having the ferry in line," Ferris said.
The cross-country team had to cancel a ferry trip and rearrange its entire schedule. The swim team will cut half its trips this year, but travel costs will still rise about 100 percent, Ferris said.
"It's great when we can send a whole team, you know, even kids that might not be your starting five, your best seven varsity runners, but you're sending 30 kids to race in a community race," Ferris said. "We won't have those opportunities as we would have if the ferry was running."
Teams will have to come up with additional money through fundraising because travel budgets through the district and booster club are already set.
The situation also affects teams coming to play in Kodiak.
"West Anchorage was going to come down on the ferry, they're going to still come down by flying, but instead of bringing 60 kids for about $4,000 they're going to bring 15 kids for about $4,600," he said.
While there's hope the Tustumena will be operational by October, Ferris said more delays could mean financial concerns for winter sports teams too.
"Traditionally in the winter we travel a few less times on the ferry," he said. "So I hope they align with either the Kennicott or whatever's running at that time, but I couldn't tell you if they will lose any of their weekends of activity yet."