The organization that owns the CFL’s Redblacks and OHL’s 67’s is laying off 40 per cent of its business operations staff, according to a media report on Wednesday.
The Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group announced the cuts in a letter to employees from CEO Mark Goudie, citing the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ottawa Citizen said. The layoffs reportedly do not affect OSEG’s football and hockey operations.
OSEG vice-president of communications Randy Burgess declined to comment on the report when contacted by OBJ on Wednesday afternoon.
“This is a day that I hoped we would never see,” the newspaper quoted Goudie as saying in the letter. “We have been desperately trying to navigate from the day that we closed TD Place in March, through our many COVID-19 related challenges, to get to a happier time when we are back to making memories. Unfortunately, that day had not yet arrived and we need to reduce our staffing levels.”
According to the report, OSEG downgraded its 2020 revenue forecast from more than $50 million to $25 million earlier this spring after the pandemic hit. Six months ago, the organization implemented across-the-board salary cuts of 20 per cent in a bid to avoid layoffs.
But with COVID-19 cases on the rise and a “lack of progress toward the levels of gatherings that our business requires,” Goudie said he felt the organization’s revised financial targets were no longer achievable.
The cuts come at a particularly tough time for OSEG, which saw any potential gate revenues from football wiped out after the CFL cancelled its 2020 season due to the pandemic.
The organization has tried to stem the losses in other ways, such as converting TD Place stadium into a drive-in movie theatre earlier this summer. OSEG – which manages the stadium and arena as well as the retail and commercial spaces at Lansdowne Park – has also looked at other approaches to attract more visitors to the site, which draws about four million people a year but has seen lower revenues and higher costs than expected.
The group launched a Christmas market last year and floated a proposal to take over the operation of all public spaces at Lansdowne in a bid to generate more revenue. OSEG ultimately withdrew the proposal in the face of opposition from local residents.