May 13, 2020

Bombers Announce 2019 overall operating profit of $3.5 million

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers delivered a positive financial report for 2019, including an overall operating profit of $3.5 million and an overall profit of $588,860.

Yet, the delivery of that news comes at a time when the franchise, the Canadian Football League – all sports leagues and entertainment businesses which are gate-driven – is facing so much uncertainty due to the Coronavirus global pandemic.

“We would have liked to have released this a little bit earlier, as we normally do in the early spring, but COVID-19 has been taking our attention,” said Bombers President & CEO Wade Miller.

“I think it’s important for everyone to know that the Winnipeg Football Club’s business model works. Do we have work in the CFL to do to make our business better? Absolutely, we do. And we’ll keep working at that.

“But our league is resilient. We’ll find a way through this and I look forward to our team defending the Grey Cup and look forward to getting back to IG Field with our fans. We’re not sure what that’s going to look like right now as we’re in a holding pattern, but we look forward to getting our fans back in the stands.”

The Bombers’ $3.5 million operating profit was boosted from winning the Grey Cup, as game day/merchandise/concession revenue was up almost $2.2 million from 2018, to $8.7 million. That number was impacted by the added costs of the Bombers being on the road for the entire playoff run and not hosting a postseason game.

“There’s a significant cost, especially the way we went to the Grey Cup by playing two away games and not hosting a home playoff games,” said Miller. “But, we’ll take that cost every day.”

The Green Bay Packers vs Oakland Raiders NFL preseason game last summer also helped boost the Bombers’ stadium management revenue line by $890,000.

The club made its required annual payment to Triple B Stadium Inc. for a sixth straight year, to the tune of $2.2 million. As well, the Bombers, along with seven other franchises, made a payment of $657,600 as the CFL operated the Montreal Alouettes during the 2019 season before new ownership came aboard last December. That led to the excess over revenue total of $588,860.

FYI, the club’s operating reserve now sits at $4.1 million, but Miller said that money will be swallowed up quickly during the pandemic which – worst-case scenario if the 2020 CFL season is wiped out – would cost the team an estimated $10 million.

“It’s devastating to the business,” said Miller. “The (operating reserve) will be used up this year for sure, to help us get through this current crisis. That’s what it’s built for. I don’t think anyone thought we’d need it to get through a pandemic, but we’re absolutely going to need it to get through this.

“We’re fully supportive of what the provincial and federal health authorities are telling us in terms of keeping everyone safe. But, essentially, our entire operation in producing live sporting events is shut down right now. That’s a challenge for all of us.”

“We need fans at our games. We’re not alone. There are a lot of industries impacted by this and so we’ll just continue to support our provincial and federal governments and we’ll all find a way through this together.”

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie continues to meet with officials from the federal government in an effort to secure financial aid for the entire league. Miller said the club is seeking that help because the club has ongoing expenses for the year which have already been incurred since January. That includes approximately 20 percent of the salary cap that has already been distributed to players in the form of offseason roster bonuses and signing bonuses during free agency, ongoing wages for employees and football operations, along with ongoing stadium operations expenses and scouting costs.

He was also quick to thank the support of the team’s fan base and corporate partners.

“The support from our fans and partners has been overwhelming,” he said. “We’ll work through that with each one of our season ticket members as soon as we get a better answer as to what our 2020 season is going to look like. We’ll also work with our partners as we move forward with this.

“Everyone wants to get back to normal, a new normal, and that’s what we’re looking forward to.”