Skip to main content

Elks report net loss of $3.9M for 2023 as team narrows list of potential new owners


While the Green and Gold are bleeding even more red ink, shareholders of Edmonton's Canadian Football League franchise heard Wednesday at its annual general meeting there's hope on the horizon.

The Edmonton Elks reported a net operating loss of $3.9 million for 2023, up from the $3.3 million it lost the previous CFL season, mainly due to reduced revenues that were $3.98 million below budget.

The reason for the mounting losses: lower attendance affecting ticket revenue at the team's home of Commonwealth Stadium, board treasurer Kara Flynn said at the meeting, which in turn affected sales of premium seating, merchandise and concessions, which were down year-over-year to $52 million from $6.6 million.

In years prior, the Elks recorded net operating losses of $1.1 million in 2021, $7.2 million during the 2020 campaign cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and $1.1 million in 2019.

Despite the mounting losses, the team, which is celebrating its 75th season in 2024, has enough capital to "meet all its current and anticipated obligations," Flynn told the meeting.

And beyond this season, the Elks could operate under a new ownership structure.

Board chairman Tom Richards, an alumnus who lined up at slotback in the late 1980s, told shareholders he couldn't give a firm timeframe for a potential sale from the current ownership group to a new one.

He said the board's special committee in charge of finding a new owner has whittled the number of potential ones down to a shortlist and that he "would love to have this done in the next couple of months."

The process of exploring a change in Elks ownership began in November and has seen more than 20 interested parties sign non-disclosure agreements.

Richards said they have several interested groups, both local and from outside the city, inquiring about ownership of the team.

"We're very encouraged by the number of interested parties that came forward to say 'We'd like to take a look, we're interested, can you tell us more information?' ... then slowly over time, we were asking as many questions as they were asking," Richards told reporters following the AGM held at the stadium.

"We want to leave this community in great shape, having the team in the best ownership for our community. That's what we're hoping to do is to do all of the due diligence."

While fans and critics alike can point to lack of success in the CFL standings for some of the Elks' financial woes — Edmonton has finished last in the West Division the last three seasons, winning 11 of 50 games played and enduring a North American professional sports record 22-game home losing streak that was snapped in August — interim president and chief executive officer Rick LeLacheur said he is encouraged by the prospects for the coming season given "strides on the field" taken by the team in the latter half of the 2023 campaign.

"We're expecting better results this year," he told shareholders.

"It's pretty clear to me the players and the coaches, if they prepare and execute and, at times, deal with adversity, they're going to be successful on the field."

The business and entertainment parts of the equation, too, play roles in attracting spectators, he told media.

"I think Edmonton is a great sports city. We've had a lot of support in the past, we will get the support into the future, but we've got to work at it both on the field and on the business side of making sure that when people come, they have fun, entertaining games," said LeLacheur, who held the president/CEO post with the club from 2002-11, helmed the B.C. Lions from 20188-22 and came out of retirement last summer after the Elks fired Victor Cui.

"It's not just a football game, it's an adventure that you just have to be at 10 days a year. That's our focus, on making sure that everybody that comes through those gates will come back again and hopefully bring their friends and relatives." 

Elks rookies reported to camp on Wednesday ahead of the start of main training camp on Sunday. The team opens its 2024 season at home June 8 against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Top Stories

Stay Connected