The Winnipeg Blue Bombers saw their operating revenue skyrocket almost 50 per cent in 2013 as the club’s move to a new stadium at Investors Group Field provided the team with exactly the kind of new and enhanced revenue streams they were hoping it would.
The Bombers' annual financial report — released late Monday morning — shows total operating revenue in 2013 was $24,185,730, a dramatic rise from the $16,727,212 the club generated one year earlier at Canad Inns Stadium.
The club generated significantly more income from hosting games in 2013 — $10,277,118, versus $7,783,372 in 2012. But the biggest jump came in a category called "Corporate and other revenue," where the Bombers recorded $13,908,612 in 2013, versus $8,945,400 in 2012.
At the same time, the club’s operating expenses also jumped significantly to $21,273,798 in 2013 from $16,001,882 in 2012.
The report shows the Bombers turned a profit on operations in 2013 of $2,911,932, versus $726,930 in 2012, as the Free Press first reported on Saturday.
When you subtract one-time costs in 2013 (opening new concession stands at Investors Group Field cost $594,224, for example), the Bombers' net profit in 2013 was $2,074,222, versus a net loss of $758,307 in 2012.
Add that to previous cash reserves and the Bombers — a team once drowning in a sea of debt — now have a reserve fund of $7.9 million.
"We’re pleased with the financial results in 2013 and believe we can continue to improve on them as we work through some of those items that occurred in 2013," Bombers CEO Wade Miller said in an interview Monday morning. "So really positive about the direction and being able to meet our obligations to our stakeholders."
Miller noted the club had some significant one-time costs in 2013. For instance, they have now booked all the severance they had to pay to former GM Joe Mack and former head coaches Paul LaPolice and Tim Burke. And the club also had significantly higher expenses in providing transit services to fans in 2013 than they expect to pay moving forward under a newly negotiated deal.
Miller said the club also spent 13 per cent more in 2013 on football operations, most of that after he and GM Kyle Walters took over in August and began beefing up the club’s coaching and scouting staffs.
Miller was asked how important an improvement to the club’s performance on the field this season — after last year’s disastrous 3-15 record — is to the club’s financial bottom line moving forward.
"It’s very important. We need to come out and win and start to turn that around. I think we’ve made really positive steps towards that. Our spending on football operations went up 13 per cent from 2012 to 2013 and most of that happened after August as we started loading up for this year and changing what we’re doing.
"So we’re spending more money than we ever have on football and focusing on ensuring our football operaton is strong and sustainable for the future. Our focus is to win championships and sell tickets."
On the plus side moving forward, Miller said the club will this year begin receiving about $2 million more per year in TV revenue from the CFL under a new deal with TSN that kicks in for the 2014 season.
Miller said the club is on track to begin paying down its stadium debt as planned, with a first scheduled payment of $4 million due at the end of this year.
"I absolutely believe we can meet our financial obligations going forward as long as we’re able to continue in what we’re doing," said Miller.
"Right now, it’s looking very positive."
Also on Monday, the Bombers announced they have released non-import safety Cauchy Muamba, import linebacker Terrell Parker and import defensive lineman Mike McAdoo.