Y'know, there was a time when the BBs had no debt at all. That was back when the TV contract was healthy and the feds gave the CFL a backdoor subsidy through the CBC. At that time too the BBs had a contract with Molsons for beer and that made them a lot of money too.
Then came the Eskimos. When their oil output was not much more than Manitobas, the Alberta franchises were on a (more or less) level field with the rest of the league. With expansion of the oil industry came an expansion of salaries. Since only the Eskimos could afford to pay exorbitant salaries the other teams went quickly into debt bidding for players. Contracts of $150-300,000 were not out of the ordinary. We always hear about the generosity of the Edmonton club in helping out other teams but it was the Eskimos who drove those teams into debt in the first place. They had a strategy of interferring in other teams contract negotiations - telling the player they wanted to reject the offer of the other club until the player was dropped from the neg-list. Then the player was added to the Edmonton list and signed to a huge (comparitively) contract.
Winning the Cup in '84 cost the BBs more than they could possibly hope to earn in a season. Staying on top of the league for the next 10 years drove them into that huge debt.
In the '90s the problem was fan apathy (who wants to watch any animal slowly dying?) as well as a reduced TV contract. Players stayed away from the whole league as the salary cap went below the cost of living. Every team except Edmonton and Calgary was losing money because all had to service debts. Another poster pointed out that those clubs with some income had to help out others with no income. That didn't help either.
In the end the club survived because several well-to-do people reached down deep and served as Angels for the club. Now, at long last, the team is out of debt, living in the real financial world with a manageable budget. So long as the salary cap is enforced the team should make enough to cover expenses.
I'm sure that at some point the team will suffer another operating loss. So long as it doesn't have to dig other teams out of debt, its own debt should be manageable.
And always remember - if something has gone wrong in the CFL you can't go wrong if you just blame the Eskimos.