CNE's future uncertain after $6 million in revenue loss

Sep 3 2020, 1:51 pm

Typically for Labour Day weekend, the CNE would be packed with visitors enjoying the games and rides — but not this year.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CNE is reporting a loss of more than $6 million this year and estimates a 95% drop in projected revenue from cancelling the event.

Conservatively, this loss is estimated to total more than $35 million of lost potential earnings from ticket sales, exhibitor commitments, sponsorships and other income streams.

This loss is also in conjunction with the absence of tourism which has significantly impacted the economy with fewer jobs, supplier contracts, artist fees, and losses in retail transactions.

The livelihood of vendors, exhibitors, midway concessions, and neighbourhood businesses affected by the cancellation of the fair amount to a $128 million economic impact on the province.

“Government relief programs have largely excluded fairs, exhibitions, and agricultural societies, and have not considered the unique challenges of our industry – most important of which is that fairs rely on 90+ % of its annual revenue on a few days or months of the year; unlike the typical funding recipients of arts and cultural sector grants that support museums, galleries and attractions that are able to generate year-round revenue streams,” Darrell Brown, CNE Executive Director said in a statement.

Brown adds that allocating a grant of $6 million to help the CNE produce and event that generates $128 million dollars to the province annually is a “sound investment” when considering the greater job gain to the regional economy and tourism.

According to the CNE Association (CNEA), the CNE is in the process of securing a loan under the federal Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) and has tapped into coronavirus economic support programs.

However, they still need to repay the loan and find alternative sources for funding over several years in order to recover from the $6 million deficit.

“Were it not for the BCAP loan, the CNEA would not be able to support its annual operating costs through to 2021.  On the municipal level, the CNE continues to work in close cooperation to discuss relief options with the City of Toronto and Exhibition Place, from which the organization leases the grounds and buildings as well as contracts with its union labour,” the release adds.

When looking to the future, historical precedence suggests that after challenging years for the CNE, attendance figures tend to surge the following year to double-digit increases.

Because of this, CNE organizers are “confident” that with the combined support and investment it hopes to receive this year, along with next year’s forecast in attendance, “it will be able to put on a successful 2021 season.”

The CNE dates for 2021 are set for August 20 to September 6.

Clarrie FeinsteinClarrie Feinstein

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