Edmonton Elks record net operating loss of $1.1 million in 2021

Photo courtesy: Edmonton Elks

The Green and Gold are still firmly in the red, as the Edmonton Elks have recorded a third straight year of financial losses.

The community-owned team held their annual general meeting on Thursday, announcing a net operating loss of $1.1 million over the course of the 2021 season. That is a marked improvement from the $7.1 million in losses incurred during the cancelled 2020 campaign, but not yet enough to turn a profit.

The Elks also recorded a net loss of $1.1 million in 2019, a year in which the club spent $950,000 in order to support the ownerless Montreal Alouettes. The team last announced a profit in 2018, raking in $2.8 million after hosting the Grey Cup.

Continuing COVID restrictions and the CFL’s shortened 14-game season prevented the Elks from maximizing their typical revenue streams in 2021, while a poor season from the organization — both on and off the field — drove down attendance. The franchise has since undergone a complete overhaul, with Victor Cui taking over as the new team president and Chris Jones returning to his old club in a dual role as head coach and general manager.

The Elks’ revenue reached $20.8 million last year, an 11 percent decrease compared to the last full regular season in 2019. The team was able to mitigate reduced revenue in part through government assistance programs, including the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy, rent subsidy, and a stabilization grant in the amount of $2.6 million during the year.

Total operating expenses in 2021 totalled $21.8 million, nine percent below the mark set in 2019. Expenses were mitigated in part thanks to aggressive efforts to reduce costs at the end of the year.

The firings of president Chris Presson, general manager Brock Sunderland and head coach Jaime Elizondo contributed to severance costs of approximately $2.1 million, with the majority of those costs set to be incurred in 2022 and 2023. However, the Elks anticipate the net severance cost will be much lower if the parties that were let go secure other jobs
prior to the end of 2023. Combining the head coach and general manager roles under Jones has allowed the team to record additional savings in the personnel department going forward.

As in previous years, there were a number of non-operating items on the club’s books in 2021, including $1.4 million in investment income earned on the trust fund and a one-time $1.1 million gain on the sale of the merchandising building. The team amassed community and 50/50 donations of $1.7 million to support and promote amateur football in Edmonton, along with a donation to the Winnifred Stewart Association in support of the Joey Moss Memorial Fund. All 50/50 revenue was offset by expenses.

In spite of the extraordinary circumstances that continued to yield losses in 2021, the
Edmonton Elks report they have sufficient cash and working capital at this time to meet all of the team’s current and anticipated obligations. Additionally, the club reports being within both the salary and football operations cap last year.