OSEG deepens net loss on Ottawa RedBlacks’ ‘expensive’ Grey Cup win

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The RedBlacks play at TD Place in September 2016. (Photo by Peter Kovessy)

Despite a successful CFL season that saw Lansdowne Park draw more visitors and revenue in 2016, its operators say the price of victory deepened the venue’s net losses on the year.

The Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, the private arm of the city’s Lansdowne Partnership, disclosed its annual earnings this week in a report to the city’s finance and economic development committee.

According to the report, OSEG increased revenue to $50 million in fiscal 2016, a 17 per cent increase year-over-year largely attributed to increased tenancy in the retail shops at Lansdowne.

Roughly 3.4 million people visited Lansdowne in 2016, an increase of 41 per cent over 2015. The influx of visitors came on the back of events such as the Brier, the Panda Game between the University of Ottawa and Carleton University and a championship Ottawa RedBlacks season that sold out every home game.

Still, that success came with a price, according to OSEG. The organization posted a net loss of $14.4 million, higher than the $12.6-million figure of a year earlier. OSEG says it took bigger losses after recording a full year of interest costs on its retail loan, adding that “winning the Grey Cup proved to be expensive.” The company is expected to elaborate on those expenses at the FEDCO meeting on July 4.

The report states that OSEG’s operating results have improved overall, but that profitability is thus far falling short of expectations.

The report highlighted two events, the 2017 Grey Cup and NHL Winter Classic between the Senators and the Montreal Canadiens in December, as anticipated drivers of activity at Lansdowne later in the year. OSEG believes the Grey Cup game and festival will bring 200,000 visitors to the park, resulting in $100 million in economic benefit for the city.