City committee favours proposal to help Edmonton Elks rebound from COVID-19 pandemic


A city committee voted in favour Monday of allowing the Edmonton Elks to renew their lease at Commonwealth Stadium as well as to offer the Canadian Football League club a break on fees as it aims to refind its financial footing. At city hall on Monday, the public services committee unanimously approved the deal, which now needs to be approved by city council as a whole to move forward.The arrangement would see the Elks renew their lease at the stadium for another five seasons and also have some licensing fees temporarily waived that would save the club about $300,000.“It’s a recognition of us as a community-owned team — what we bring back to the city,” Elks president and CEO Victor Cui told Global News on Monday.The Elks say the football club has lost about $18 million over the last four seasons. Story continues below advertisement READ MORE: Edmonton Elks open 2023 CFL season at home on June 11Cui said the COVID-19 pandemic, which triggered the outright cancellation of the 2020 CFL season, played no small part in the team’s financial misfortunes in recent years.He also acknowledged that attracting fans to the games amid the current economy and with various entertainment operations competing to do the same thing is a challenge.“In general, the world of sports is going through a massive turmoil right now in trying to get the share of wallet of fans,” Cui said. 1:43 Edmonton Elks announce kids 12 and under get in free for rest of 2022 season Last summer, the Elks tried various initiatives to try to increase attendance at Commonwealth Stadium, including allowing fans to receive up to four free youth tickets for every adult ticket purchased for home games. Trending Now Story continues below advertisement READ MORE: Edmonton Elks offering free tickets for kids 12 and underMayor Amarjeet Sohi noted that if the waiving of licensing fees is approved, the Elks plan to use the extra money for marketing.“I think it’s a good investment to help the Elks get back on track to recovering some of the revenue they lost,” he said, adding it is important that the Elks receive support and can operate under predictable conditions. “The Elks are community-owned.“They are integral to our community and we need to make sure that they are successful.”Committee members said Monday they expect the Elks to continue to work to attract concerts and other events to the stadium in addition to trying to increase attendance for football games.READ MORE: Elite group of snowboarders set to soar at Commonwealth Stadium in EdmontonCui said the Elks organization generated millions of dollars worth of economic impact in Edmonton and said he believes the club has an opportunity to break even this season.Since last winning the Grey Cup in 2015, the Elks’ roster has undergone a significant overhaul in recent seasons.READ MORE: Lawler pays tribute to Edmonton on social media, says goodbye to Elks ahead of CFL free agencyThe 2022 season saw the Elks finish with a dismal 4-14 record, although it was an improvement from their three wins in the 2021 season. Story continues below advertisement “We want them to be successful,” Sohi said Monday. “We want them to start winning.”–with files from Morgan Black, Global News &copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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