You may of heard Bob McCowan on his Toronto radio show saying he has information that the Riders will report up to $14 million in profits for the 2007 season.
Former CFL commissioner Tom Wright was on his show yesterday and said that he would be delighted if they did, but doubts the profits were that high.
McCowan apparantly has some reliable sources which are close to the CFL braintrust, so there must be something to this.
It was rumoured towards the end of last seaosn that the Riders were looking at $20 million in revenues, and that was before the won the Grey Cup. It is also rumoured that their merchandise sales have exceeded the totals of the other seven CFL teams combined. The Riders had multiple sellouts during the season and also hosted a soldout semi-final playoff game.
The current Rider revenue estimate is now $22 million, but I doubt their expenses total only $8 million, as McCowan had suggested.
Last year, the publically-owned Riders reported revenues of $15.3M, and expenditures of only $445 less than that, which prompted national media reports that the Riders were only one season ticket cancellation from losing money.
Being a not-for-profit community-run club, it is really not in there best interests to announce a massive profit like has been suggested. As we have seen with the Eskimos, who have built up a reported $15 million in their bank account, there are creative ways to structure your accounting so the team does not show a large profit, or loss, for any one season.
I would suggest that if the Riders did indeed generate $22 million in revenues, they could easily find ways to spend $18 million of that. These could include increased Grey Cup costs, such as rings, parades, GC promotional costs, ect. Like the Esks, they could salt away a few million into bonds or rainy day funds, or perhaps start bursuries and endowments for local schools and minor football.
All that being said, I would project the Riders could easily announce a $3 million profit for last season.
This is great news for the Riders and the CFL. The league's model is not broken, as was suggested by the media last summer when a leading Ottawa investor became ill and pulled out of the running for the new franchise. There are many, many positives about the league with attendance, TV revenues and sponorships at near record levels across the CFL.
So perhaps all this negative talk about the CFL's imminent demise, have been greatly exaggerated.