Roughriders report $1.1M operating loss in 2023-24

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are reporting a $1.1-million operating loss in 2023-24.

"I think it was reflective of what last year was," said Saskatchewan Roughriders president and CEO Craig Reynolds on Tuesday.

"It was a disappointing year on the field and, as a result, we didn't have overly strong financials."

Chief financial officer Kent Paul said other factors also contributed to low ticket sales.

"The economy with high inflation and increasing interest rates over the last couple of years has affected everyone in Rider Nation and challenged their disposable income and ability to attend Rider games with both of these factors impacting the club's financial results," Paul said.

Reynolds said the second consecutive 6-12 season without playoff football affected ticket sales. He said the current 2-0 start under new head coach Corey Mace is a positive sign that the club's fortunes are changing.

"I think there's one known correlation in pro sports and that's winning. Winning definitely impacts your organization in a positive way and certainly, financially, it impacts in a positive way."

In 2022-23, the club had a positive net operating income of $3.9 million thanks to playing host to the Grey Cup.

In 2023-24, gross revenue was $35.6 million, down from $39.6 million the previous year.

Expenses increased to $36.7 million from $35.8 million the previous year.

Saskatchewan Roughriders CFO Kent Paul, left, and CEO Craig Reynolds discuss the team's 2023-24 financial report with media.
Saskatchewan Roughriders CFO Kent Paul, left, and CEO Craig Reynolds discuss the team's 2023-24 financial report with media. (Matt Howard/Radio-Canada)

Reynolds and Paul said despite the lower revenue and higher expenses, the team is in a good financial position.

Paul said the club's earnings before interest, depreciation and amortization, or EBIDA, was $1.5 million.

The club shared its annual report on Tuesday evening.

In addition to lower ticket sales, the club saw concessions, fundraising and sponsorships decline from the previous year.

Paul said the sponsorships declined due to one-time Grey Cup funding from companies.

Merchandise, CFL distribution and interest income increased from 2022-23.

Ticket sales declined to $14.0 million in 2023-24 from $15.9 million in 2022-23.

The club said the decrease was due to lower season ticket sales and a free ticket given to fans who paid for an MVP package.

Reynolds said fans have changed their habits and are opting for different ticket packages.

"We're selling different products so we're selling more (three and five) game packs. We saw an increase of about 30 per cent in our new season tickets. That's been positive. But we've seen two straight years of decline here."

Reynolds said the team is focused on attracting young fans and families, including with youth pricing and the $99 ticket package for a family of four, which is back for another season.

"There's no doubt we need to get younger. We think that will pay off down the road," Reynolds said.

Concession revenues saw a drop of $500,000. Paul said that was "driven primarily by the introduction of $5 beer on game days and lower overall attendance."

Reynolds said the promotion has been tweaked for this season.

"We landed on a happy hour concept. We're offering that $5 beer for the first hour that the gates are open."