Calgary Stampede looks to city after projecting major revenue loss

The Calgary Stampede is asking the City of Calgary for some unspecified measures to help it through a financial crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

CEO says 1,200 bookings have been cancelled so far this year

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

The Calgary Stampede is asking the city for some measures to help it through a financial crisis.

This year's 10-day event was cancelled due to COVID-19 blowing a huge hole in its finances. The Calgary Stampede is estimating that without this year's event and related sponsorships, its revenues will be down by 62 per cent.

The CEO, Warren Connell, says 1,200 bookings have been cancelled so far this year.

One thousand employees were also laid off to cut spending but it's still looking like it will need help.

"We are working with all three levels of government with respect to what that means for the Stampede going in the long term," Connell said.

The Stampede can service its debt but it has asked the city to change the rules regarding its access to credit.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi told council's finance committee on Tuesday that the city's administration says the changes are sustainable.

"Given that there was no Stampede this year, there will be a challenge on meeting the debt coverage ratios, and so that's what you're being asked to think about today," Nenshi said.

He explained that under the Stampede's existing loans, they have to maintain a certain ratio of their income to their debt, but with less income this year, the organization would run into a technical breach with its borrowing arrangements.

"Because we do believe the Stampede will come back and the Calgary Stampede has a strong financial balance sheet, this is really just a technical breach," Nenshi said.

The Calgary Stampede is not asking for money from the city, Nenshi said.

For now, the Stampede board is preparing for more normal operations in 2021 but it isn't yet certain if that will actually happen.

With files from Scott Dippel