By The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have reported an overall operating profit of $3.5 million for the 2019 season, but their bottom line for 2020 is looking far darker.
A rosy report for 2019 was expected after the Blue Bombers won their first championship in 29 years, beating Hamilton 33-12 to claim the Grey Cup. The operating profit is $900,000 more than the 2018 figure for the community-owned club.
The team said in a statement Wednesday that the Blue Bombers saw strong merchandise sales in November leading up to the Grey Cup, which carried over into December as the city celebrated its title.
However, with the COVID-19 pandemic expected to wipe out the 2020 season, the club says its outlook has “dramatically changed.”
“If the season were to be shortened or cancelled, the financial effects would be severe and would result in a significant net loss for the year,” the Bombers said in the statement.
The CFL is a gate-driven league without the type of rich television deal other major North American sports leagues enjoy, making it more vulnerable during a time of restrictions on mass gatherings to help control the spread of COVID-19. The league has asked the federal government for up to $150 million in assistance, with commissioner Randy Ambrosie saying that the survival of the CFL is in doubt without help.
“The club continues to monitor the situation in conjunction with the CFL and is reducing, deferring, and eliminating expenditures where possible, and at the same time exploring all possible alternate sources of revenue during these difficult times,” team president and CEO Wade Miller said in the release. “The support that our season ticket members and corporate partners have shown us throughout has been overwhelming and encouraging.”