Blue Bombers fumble on field but score big revenues anyway

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers scored an operating profit of $2.9 million last season, almost double what they made in 2012.
CBC's Mitch Peacock speaks with Blue Bombers president and CEO Wade Miller about the team's annual report, released Monday, May 12, 2014. 3:25

Despite their brutal showing on the field, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers scored big on the ledger in 2013.

The Winnipeg Football Club, which owns the CFL's Bombers, recorded an operating profit of $2.9 million last season, an increase of $2.2-million over 2012.

Season ticket sales hit a record high with just under 24,620 sold for the first season at Investors Group Field, generating $8.66 million, which is a 34 per cent increase over 2012, according to the 2013 Annual Report, released on Monday.

A Winnipeg Blue Bombers fan shows his displeasure after his team was trounced 53-17 by the B.C. Lions at Investors Group Field in September. (John Woods/Canadian Press)
Corporate partnerships also hit a record high level of $3.8 million, which is an increase of $766,000 or 26 per cent over the 2012 season.

The club also experience increased expenses in its new venue, with operating costs coming in at $21.3 million in 2013 compared to $16 million in 2012.

However, many expenses were one-time in nature, led by significant executive and football operations severance costs that are no longer on the books, as well as transportation plan costs that are expected to be at a more acceptable level going forward, said Blue Bomber president and CEO Wade Miller.

One of those expenses is the $1.1 million it paid to the City of Winnipeg for park-and-ride transit services to Investor's Group Field.

The team is hoping to get the city to cut its charter rate by more than 40 per cent this year and next.

Other non-recurring costs from 2013 include those tied into the stadium's grand opening, as well as concession start-up and stadium development costs  none of which will be repeated.

Although the team is coming off the 2013 season with a 3-15 record — which gives them a 9-27 record for the past two years and has caused a lot of grumbling among fans — Miller said he remains optimistic about the financial stability of the club.

He noted renewal rates for premium seating have been very strong and all suites and premium seating areas are sold out as part of four-to-six-year contracts.

 “Our fans and corporate partners are the lifeblood of this organization and their support has been unwavering,” said Miller.

“We have put a strong focus on our football operations this past off-season and are confident we will enjoy a revived, competitive product on the field this year that we can all be excited about."