After almost eleven months, the city of Windsor has finally released the costs of the FINA 25m Championships, which were held at the east end arena last December. Despite the event being an apparent glowing financial success, reportedly generating some $42 million in economic activity, a few critical questions suggest the picture might not be all that rosy.
In fact, costs may well have exceeded what the city is claiming.
A suggestion that money was made is incongruous given the event’s reported revenue, $550,079, was substantially below the $11,118,689 cost. In an odd form of bookkeeping, the city lists contributions, from FINA and taxpayer money from the federal and provincial governments and the city, as revenue.
It is a misnomer.
Many more millions in expenses seem to have disappeared, including at least $4 million to compensate for the dropping value of the Canadian dollar. Federal and provincial contributions are listed at par, but were paid in Canadian dollars.
Some event expenses are hard to find, including $7.5 million for a warm-up pool at the arena. Hiding, too, are the $62,400 housing allowance and $42,000 in travel expenses for the event manager. Also, the $200,000 cost of the bid to host the event and $50,000 in travel that the past and current mayors took on FINA event business.
An economic impact by the Canadian Sports Tourism Alliance does mention the warm-up pool as a benefit, but does not include the expenditure in its numbers.
While FINA, claims the Alliance, generated $32 million of local economic activity, this did not include much of what the city has to offer.
On December 14, the Windsor Star reported there were, “… tours of local attractions, including the Art Gallery of Windsor, Chimczuk Museum, Canadian Club Brand Centre, wineries, Willistead Manor, and Devonshire Mall for 65 VIPs. Only three people took a tour.”
A FINA accomplishment, said the city, is promoting, “… Windsor and south west Ontario as a major events and tourism destination.”
But, local businesses saw no rush of visitors this summer, causing eight Business Improvement Areas to pool $70,000 for advertising to attract tourists. Also hard to find was the prize money. On December 9, the Windsor Star reported it amounted to, “… almost US$1.2 million – a record amount for FINA short track and more than 10 per cent of the event’s $11.3-million overall budget.”
In the Project Charter, Appendix B, as of February 1, 2015, city operative Tony Ardovini said the, “… 2016 WSC with Budget of $11.265M USD is the largest international sporting event ever held in the City of Windsor.”
Even that claim is suspect.
The 2016 OFSAA Track and Field Championships held at Alumni Field saw 6,363 competitors, officials, coaches, volunteers, and spectators. FINA brought in less than 900.