Like many organizations in Saskatchewan, Regina Exhibition Association Limited (REAL) is glad 2020 is over, but expects another tough year in 2021 due to lingering effects from the coronavirus pandemic.
REAL, who operates Evraz Place, expects to see about $2 to 2.5 million in losses when it officially closes its financial book on 2020.
Its initial projection saw a loss of $7 million.
“We had to make difficult decisions and there’s a lot of incredible members of our team that haven’t been able to get a shift this year (2020),” said Tim Reid, REAL president and CEO.
“Those aren’t easy decisions and they’re challenging times, but it was better than worst-case scenario.”
REAL was ready to lose about $5.5 million, seen in its last forecast of 2020 in November, but recently learned it would be eligible to receive about $3.5 million in federal grants that will help offset some of its losses.
“Ultimately, I think given the fact that our entire business shut off and still had a very big campus and operation to run, I’m not sure we could have done any better than that,” Reid said.
Reid expects the financial challenges to continue throughout 2021 due to the uncertainty of how long it will take for everyone to get vaccinated, ongoing public health guidelines and the willingness of people to be in large crowds.
“Our best guess with a very murky crystal ball right now is that we anticipate that about 50 percent of our events will turn on next year,” Reid said.
“We think that’ll mean somewhere around $2 million anticipated loss in 2021 and then hopefully 2022 we get back to regular business.”
REAL is in the process of asking the City of Regina for $400,000 through an operating grant to help cover some of its expenses in 2021.
Reid said REAL already has access to about $700,000 from the city in what he describes as a line of credit, but said taking $400,000 from it would come with higher interest costs.
A decision surrounding the $400,000 is expected to be made at Regina city council sometime in March.