December 6, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Since Day 1, it's been the biggest unknown surrounding the construction of a new football stadium on the grounds of the University of Manitoba. How are the tight-budget Winnipeg Blue Bombers going to be able to suddenly afford to make an annual mortgage payment of $4.5 million?
Well, over half that problem has just been solved.
A historic new five-year television deal between the CFL and TSN that was announced Thursday morning will, according to multiple sources, be worth at least an additional $2.5 million annually (to $4.5 million per season) to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, wiping out over half of the team's new mortgage payment in one fell swoop.
"I've talked about this since my first day here -- what we need to do is built multiple revenue streams. And broadcast revenue -- being it radio or TV -- is a significant part of those revenue streams," said Bombers CEO Garth Buchko, who was on the CFL team that negotiated the new deal with TSN.
"And with this new deal, it will certainly make it easier for us to not only pay the money back for the stadium but to also build a long-term sustainable business that will be successful for a lot of years and allow us to grow and invest in our football operations for the future."
Buchko said the original business plan the Bombers drafted prior to going ahead with construction of Investors Group Field budgeted for league TV revenues to remain flat and yet was still enough -- through enhanced revenue streams the team believes will come from operating the new building -- for the team to comfortably make its annual $4.5-million mortgage payment.
Against that backdrop, the new TV money is, quite literally, a windfall of historic proportions.
"It's a good day for the CFL," said Buchko. "I think the commissioner (Mark Cohon) said it's 'transformative.' And I'd echo the commissioner's comment -- this is transformative to the CFL and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers."
While the league, Buchko and TSN refused to release financial details surrounding the new deal, initial reports out of Toronto on Thursday characterized the new deal as being worth double the old deal, which was worth about $2 million per season to each of the eight CFL teams.
However, multiple sources told the Free Press that the new deal -- which begins in 2014 and runs through the 2018 season -- is actually worth "close to triple" the old deal.
Part of that windfall will be eaten up, of course, by the addition of an expansion team in Ottawa, beginning in 2014. But even with a new CFL team now also sharing in the TV money, sources indicate the new deal will overall be worth about $4.5 million per team per season.
The new deal, which kicks in after the old deal expires following the upcoming season, gives TSN exclusive television broadcast rights to all pre-season, regular season and post-season games, including the Grey Cup, and an expanded slate of French-language games on RDS through the 2018 season.
The deal also calls for some enhancements to TSN's CFL coverage, including extended pre-game interviews with head coaches and the centres wearing microphones during games.
In addition, TSN and its affiliated radio stations get exclusive radio rights to the Grey Cup game.
The new deal does not affect the radio arrangement the Bombers have with CJOB, which has the team's radio rights locked up for another six seasons.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 22, 2013 C4