Saskatchewan Roughriders lose $7.5 million in 2020 amid COVID-19 pandemic

Photo courtesy: Hannah Souster

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced a loss of $7.5 million in its 2020 financial report amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The team reported operational revenue of just $10.3 million in 2020, which was down from $39.6 million in 2019. $3.9 million of this revenue (37.9 percent) came courtesy of several government-funded programs with the team calling the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) “a key revenue stream.”

Saskatchewan posted operational expenses of $18.7 million in 2020, which was down from $39.7 million in 2019. The cancellation of the 2020 CFL season limited the Riders’ expenses, but it had a far more adverse effect on revenues.

“The pandemic, and the resulting cancelled season has left our resources depleted and the Club facing a multi-million-dollar shortfall,” wrote chairman of the board Randy Beattie in a report. “Under extraordinary circumstances, the Club’s management team has done an incredible job managing expenses. Early projections saw us accessing our financial stabilization fund by fall of 2020. It remained untouched for the entire 2020-21 fiscal year.”

The Riders generated $3,532,052 in sponsorship funds, which was down from $7,287,831 in 2019. Merchandise revenue also fell from $6,045,495 to $2,219,713.

All three of the CFL’s community-owned teams lost significant amounts of money in 2020 with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers losing $7.0 million and the Edmonton Elks losing $7.1 million.

“We are facing significant and long-term financial challenges because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” wrote president and CEO Craig Reynolds in a report. “We leveraged government programs to help offset costs, but these challenges will persist for many years and will not be solved by playing football in 2021. Yet still, our resolve to play football in 2021 and bring you, our fans, back into Mosaic Stadium to cheer for our Green and White is strong.”

Saskatchewan did not need to utilize funds from its $7,823,323 stabilization fund to navigate the pandemic.

The Riders continued many of their community initiatives despite the challenges of the pandemic. One of these was the Riders x Special Blend Community Support Initiative “provided necessary money for community projects that lost funding due to the pandemic.”

Three communities received $5,000 each following a fan vote — Hafford, Springside, and Peepeekisis Cree Nation. Hafford will use the money for its local football program, Springside plans to use the money for equipment for its firehall, and Peepeekisis Cree Nation plans to build its first youth baseball diamonds.

Saskatchewan recorded profits from 2016 to 2018 in amounts of $33,983, $781,062, and $1,467,062. The team reported a modest loss of $210,064 in 2019.