The Winnipeg Football Club posted a $2.8-million profit on football operations in 2016, but still had to dip into its reserves to cover its stadium-financing obligations.
The non-profit organization took in $27.1 million in revenue against $24.2 million in expenses last year, president and CEO Wade Miller said Wednesday.
The $2.8-million profit is down from $11.5 million in 2015, the year the Grey Cup was held in Winnipeg and Investors Group Field also hosted FIFA Women's World Cup games as well as concerts by One Direction and AC/DC.
"Obviously, 2015 was a much different year," Miller said in an interview.
Miller noted there were no major concerts at the stadium in 2016, a year when the major non-football event was the NHL Heritage Classic game that saw the Winnipeg Jets play the Edmonton Oilers outdoors in October.
More events are planned for the stadium this year, including a Canada women's soccer friendly, a Guns N' Roses concert and the closing ceremonies of the Canada Summer Games, Miller said.
The Bombers' $4.5-million stadium-loan payment led the club to withdraw $1.7 million from its reserves, the club's annual report says.
These payments, along with game-day transportation costs, require to the Bombers to deal with more overhead than other CFL clubs, Miller said.
The club held on to a season-ticket base of just under 20,000, he said, thanks to their first winning season since 2011. With walk-up sales, the team posted an average attendance of 25,936 in 2016.
More wins this season would drive up casual ticket sales, as well as team profits, given the discounts on season tickets.
"Obviously we hope our casual fan base comes back. We have some work to do," Miller said.
The new bus-rapid-transit station on the north side of Investors Group Field, expected to be finished in July, will radically improve transportation to and from the stadium on game day, Miller said.
Buses will no longer have to queue on Chancellor Matheson Drive and University Crescent. That will allow people in personal vehicles to get in and out of the University of Manitoba's Fort Garry campus more easily, Miller said.
The City of Winnipeg is also changing traffic signals at Pembina Highway to allow vehicles to leave the campus continuously after games, he said.
Other improvements this season will be more direct shuttles to area restaurants and bars as well as more concession options, including less expensive items such as hot dogs, perogies and smaller portions of chicken fingers, Miller said.