Bob Young always the optimist, is singing a particularly happy tune these days. You might wonder why, given that he is still vilified in some quarters over his refusal to move the team to a West Harbour stadium, and the fact that the tab that he has run up propping up the team is now at $40 Million. But the Hamilton Ticat owner, or ‘caretaker, as he prefers to be known, says the team would have turned a profit this year, had it not been for the stadium delays, but that it certainly will be profitable next year. For Young, restoring the team to financial stability was more important than anything that might take place on the field. “When the Ticats got into trouble and I made the emotional decision to rescue my older brother’s football team, I did so not with the ambition to win many Grey Cups, but with the ambition to get the Tiger Cats to financial stability, because they haven’t been there since the Grey Cup game of 1972.—that last year from all the records I can find that the Tigercats did not require outside financial aid,” he told the Bay Observer. He said he learned to appreciate the business side of the game from an early age, watching Ticat games with his businessman father.
The new stadium is the reason the club can make money. Longtime Ticat observers estimate that between private Boxes and various premium seating options the club stands to bring in roughly $2Million more than they would have been able to garner at Ivor Wynne. “We have completely sold out all of our premium seating products ,” said Ticat CEO Scott Mitchell, “and we have waiting lists for all of them.” He says the new stadium has also enhanced the club’s attractiveness in other ways.” For merchandize we’ve gone from being the last team in the league were now close to a million and a half dollars a year—our corporate partnerships were the worst in the league and now we could be number two.”
As a privately owned club the Ticats do not publish their profit and loss statements, although members of Hamilton City council have seen them, but Mitch-ell says a rough yardstick for an Eastern Conference team is that they need a minimum of $20 Million a year in revenue to break even. Western Conference teams produce much more revenue. The publicly owned Saskatchewan Roughriders, for instance, had gross revenues of $39 Million in 2013 earning a profit of nearly $2 Million. Hosting the Grey Cup bumped the Riders Profit up to $7 Million. But the Riders are something of an anomaly owing to their almost fanatical province-wide fan base and the lack of any other professional sport in the market. A more typical example might be the Edmonton Eskimos, also publicly owned who had a terrible season in 2013. Edmonton grossed $18.5 million in total revenue and despite a 4-14 season and missing the playoffs, still managed to make a profit of $1.6 Million.