July 7, 2015


Record: 1–1–0

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Blue Bomber Report

By Gary Lawless

Down, set, ka-ching!

Bombers post $2.9-million profit in new stadium

Winnipeg Blue Bomber fans Kurtis Perkins celebrate a  Bomber field goal in the second half of the game against Toronto at Investors Group Field Wednesday evening.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Winnipeg Blue Bomber fans Kurtis Perkins celebrate a Bomber field goal in the second half of the game against Toronto at Investors Group Field Wednesday evening. Photo Store

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers will announce a $2.9-million profit on 2013 operations at Monday's fan forum.

As the profit attests, the new football stadium -- despite all its delays and design flaws -- is doing what it was meant to do -- pump cash into the operation.

Profits would have been higher if not for transition costs and employee severance costs of more than $1 million.

Going forward, season-ticket sales are expected to drop to 22,000 from 25,000 for 2014 but the actual dollar-hit will be offset by the addition of more high-priced loge seats that are fully subscribed.

The Bombers are also in negotiations to have fan transportation costs reduced from 2013's figure of $1.3 million to somewhere in the $600,000 range.

Eliminate the one-time costs and factor in new TV monies of $2 million per season and it's not unrealistic to imagine the Bombers annually recording a profit in the $4-million to $5-million range in the next few years.

The stadium was meant to make the Bombers a viable economic entity and if the club is run responsibly and becomes something other than a doormat on the field, there should be no financial issues for the organization moving forward.

If CEO Wade Miller and GM Kyle Walters can out kick modest expectations and achieve at a higher level on and off the field, the Bombers could enjoy an even more robust financial outlook.

Stadium repayment will never reach the mythical number of $4.5 million per year touted by the Bombers board when the project and its financing was originally announced, but that's a red herring where Miller and the Bombers of today are concerned.

The negotiated repayment stipulations are quite simple. The Bombers are obligated to pay down their stadium debt of $85 million plus interest after they've paid the entertainment taxes and facility fees, as well as set aside $500,000 to be put in their own operating reserve, which is to be capped at $5 million.

Any money left over after these streams are served will then go to repaying the province.

Yes, it's a sweet deal but the terms were negotiated by the province and the Bombers board. Holding the folks running the Bombers today responsible for paying off the stadium loan is both illogical and a waste of time.

First of all, it's not their problem and second of all it's not going to happen. We needed a new football stadium and we got one. How it was financed and the mishandling of the message, that falls on the folks who did the deal. Not those living the reality.

The Bombers have beefed up their football budget and are operating on a level field with the rest of the CFL for the first time in a long time. That's the responsibility of Miller and Walters and so far they've met it.

How this translates into wins is the next step in this plan and how this duo will ultimately be judged.

The taxpayer? If they believe they have an axe to grind, there's a separate lineup for such griping, but it's downtown at the legislature.

News of a $2.9-million profit might not be strong enough for finance critics but it should be for the football fan. The Bombers will be properly served by the new stadium and won't be under-funded as a football operation.

That's all a fan can ask for from its stadium. Now what gets done with a legitimate football budget becomes the real story. The story of wins and losses.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 10, 2014 C1

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