Westerner Park lost approximately $290,000 in the past fiscal year.
“We had a perfect storm happen at Westerner Park this past year,” said CEO Bradley Williams during the annual general meeting Monday evening.
“It caught up to us at the end of the day and it is what it is. We can’t do anything about it. It’s rear view now to look at it.”
The 2018-2019 fiscal year brought its ups and downs, such the completion of the Exhibition Hall, which is now open for business.
It was also the first time Westerner Park and the Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce brought the Canadian Finals Rodeo to Red Deer.
There was also a change in leadership: Williams was named CEO in December 2018.
Williams said there were many one-time costs this past year.
The expenses included “CEO severance and accounting fees to clean up some of the issues we had,” explained Damian Zapisocky, outgoing president and board chair.
Canadian Finals Rodeo resulted in a $145,000 loss for the facility, something that shouldn’t happen next year, said Zapisocky. He attributed the loss to start-up costs and labour, among other reasons.
Moving forward, the ambition is to attract bigger events to central Alberta’s largest venue and use available assets such as the Agricentre, Exhibition Hall, Centrium and the Parkland, Prairie and Stomens pavilions to full potential.
The budgeted profit for 2019-2020 is $1.1 million.
Williams said the facility is looking at bringing music performers, speakers and comedy-type events to Westerner Park.
“We have hired someone in sales, primarily for our new (Exhibition) hall to bring big events in,” he said.
This year, the facility will do its own in-house catering, which will save money, Williams said.
In the 2018-19 fiscal year, a kitchen facility was upgraded to be able to cater to larger crowds. This means the venue won’t rely on meals from another business, lowering food and beverage expenses.
“We’re all pushing each other to deliver what we got. Westerner Park is here, we’re a big organization. We just need to deliver the goods,” said Williams.
“We’re not going to be happy if we hit that number ($1.1 million profit). We’re going to be happy when we exceed that number.”
There will be minor upgrades to the Centrium concourse and concession and technology upgrades at Westerner Park, budgeted at about $1 million in 2019-2020, Williams said.