Calgary Stampede lost $26.5M in 2020 due to pandemic

The Calgary Stampede lost $26.5 million in 2020 and now it's asking the city for some assistance with its bank.

Non-profit promises to ride again but needs city help dealing with its bank

Crowds flock to the midway at the Calgary Stampede in on July 7, 2019. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

The Calgary Stampede lost an unprecedented $26.5 million in 2020 and now it's asking the city for some assistance.

In recent years, the non-profit normally pulled in about $150 million in annual revenues and posted a small surplus.

In a year where the pandemic resulted in its first-ever cancelled Stampede event, the organization recorded just $25 million in revenues.

"It was a difficult year," said Dana Peers, the Stampede's interim CEO.

Revenues weren't the only place on the balance sheet where there was a drop.

Expenditures were just $24 million last year. That's in contrast to the $104 million spent in 2019.

Staff laid off

Soon after the pandemic hit, the Stampede laid off more than 80 per cent of its staff to save money.

The Stampede received $9.9 million in COVID-related government funding, in addition to last year's provincial grant of $6 million.

"Really, we've been without revenues of course we're going on 16 months — like many in the community — and we have to rely certainly to a great extent on credit and you know, try and continue to work toward getting our business back to normal," said Peers.

The Stampede is planning a scaled-down version of its annual July event. In a normal year, that period is responsible for more than half of the organization's annual revenues.

He said it's still waiting to hear from the Trudeau government how much money it may be getting from a major festivals assistance fund included in this year's federal budget.

City council could help

On Tuesday, city council's priorities and finance committee will get an update on the Stampede's financial situation.

The city guarantees the Stampede's credit facilities.

An unnamed major Canadian bank has been supportive of the Stampede by improving its access to credit.

The agenda for Tuesday's meeting notes that the city's administration is recommending council approve amending its support or the Stampede "could be in default under its credit facilities."

As well, the agenda notes that the Stampede is looking at other ways of dealing with the ongoing financial impacts of the pandemic.

Besides seeking additional federal support, it mentions that sales of unencumbered assets and additional credit facilities may be required.

The Stampede is currently projecting a financial loss of $11.7 million for 2021.

However, Peers said that picture depends on when health restrictions are lifted and how many events at Stampede Park resume through the balance of this year.


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