The Edmonton Elks endured one of their worst seasons in franchise history with a 3-11 record and missing the playoffs.
The organization struggled off the field, as well. On Thursday, the Elks announced a net operating loss of $1.1 million for the 2021 season. An 18-game season was shortened to 14 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning there were three less home games which affected overall revenues.
Compared to 2019, which was the last time the CFL played a full season, the Elks’ revenues dropped 11 per cent to $20.8 million. The club took advantage of government assistance programs including the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy, rent subsidy and stabilization grant which amounted to $2.6 million, which was able to ease reduced revenues.
Elks board chair Ian Murray says the $1.1 million loss is a blow, but feels it could have been much worse under the circumstances.
“The fact that we had a short season with only 14 games and we went through all of the chaos associated with COVID-19,” Murray said, “the size of the loss could have been much worse.
“I would say generally we came through that pretty well under the circumstances.”
LISTEN: Murray speaks about hopes of a turnaround in 2022 led by new GM and head coach Chris Jones, and president and CEO Victor Cui
The anger from fans seems to be slowing down somewhat with the hiring of Chris Jones as the team’s general manager and head coach, along with Victor Cui coming onboard as the Elks’ new president and CEO.
Fans who had season tickets, who at first were thinking about giving up their seats, have decided to come back. Some season ticket holders, however, still have some anger over last season and Cui says it’s up to the organization to listen to their concerns.
“Season ticket holders are like a sibling that want you to perform better,” Cui said.
“They expect more of you. They love you, they criticize you but it’s not that they hate you, they just expect more of you. To me, that’s a fair request from somebody who decides to be a fan of the team. It’s our obligation as an organization to continue to innovate, to make the game more exciting and to make this valued proposition something that makes sense for fans to keep coming over and over again.”
Murray feels the right pieces are in place within the organization in both football and business operations to ensure a turnaround in 2022.
“I think it’s the management team and we’re comfortable with what they’re doing,” Murray said. “They have really strong track records and if we start winning games, that will improve everyone’s frame of mind. Victor has a very strong sports background and he’s already instituted a lot of changes in the way in which we make money with the business.”
The Elks will open main training camp on Sunday.