Parents won't have to fork over $5 a game to watch their kids play in the Greater Toronto Hockey League next year. Instead, they're going to have to pay a flat rate up front.

The GTHL is instituting the payment for the 2009-10 season, the league said Friday. Parents will have to pay up to $520 per player for the year.

"We're at a stage in our structure where it was time to look at ways of saving costs," said GTHL executive director Scott Oakman. "We thought it was the best route to go."

The maximum amount is $520 right now, but the league is looking at ways to bring that cost down.

"We're hoping to work towards achieving other savings elsewhere," Oakman said, including cutting internal costs and instituting a 10 per cent break for parents who have more than one child in the system.

As a result of the change, there will be no gate fee at GTHL games next season.

The league has been mulling over what to do about gate fees for the past couple of weeks. The GTHL hasn't raised ticket prices for five years, keeping the promise they made to parents back in 2004.

But with the gate stabilization fund gone, the league expects to wind up $400,000 in the red this season. Oakman said ice fees have jumped 30 per cent since 2004, and the city is proposing another 3.7 per cent increase in its 2009 budget.

"When your largest expenditure, probably in the neighbourhood of 70 per cent, is ice costs, it's a huge challenge," Oakman said. "We need ice, and we have no control over the cost. It's certainly a seller's market."

Some teams will have to pay as much as $400 an hour for ice next season.

The proposed increase in ice fees is expected to add another $300,000 to the GTHL's operating budget for 2009-10.

"I'm not going to beat up on the politicians," GTHL president John Gardner told The Toronto Sun newspaper a couple of weeks ago. "But the politicians are making it more expensive. It's not the parents' fault or the kids' fault."