Crunching the numbers

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:14 AM ET

The Edmonton Eskimos have been dreadful on the field for two years - but nobody can beat Danny Maciocia and Rick LeLacheur when it comes to playing within the salary cap rules.

According to the Eskimos' financial books and the CFL's audit, the club was $24,000 under the $4.05 million cap last year.

"We have shown some leadership in the whole cap (area) - how we report financially," said Eskimos president/CEO Rick LeLacheur.

"Our accounting department has been sort of showcased by the league as doing it as (a) best practice."

The club's financial statement was officially released last night during the Esks' annual general meeting at Commonwealth Stadium.

And while the Green and Gold have failed to make the playoffs for two straight years, LeLacheur has no intention of paying fines or losing draft picks by being over the $4.2 million cap this year.

"Our board and our management is absolutely committed to (being under the cap) and we're committed to it for one reason: We don't want any more bankruptcies (in the league)," continued LeLacheur.

"We have been there with Toronto and Hamilton (before) and we have got great ownership now in all eight teams and we want to make sure it stays that way."

The CFL is expected to have conducted audits on every team by the end of next month but there is speculation that at least two teams were over the cap last season.

Maciocia's proper management of the four-man reserve list - keeping some injured players on that list instead of wasting salary on healthy players - definitely helped Edmonton stay under the cap and avoid league-mandated fines.

But there were some troubling numbers in the 2007 financial statement.

- Attendance dropped 1.4% last year to 363,241 - down 5,459 fans from 2006. Winning will solve that problem.

"We probably have at least six starters (acquired this off-season) that weren't with us last year," said LeLacheur, hoping that brings more victories this summer.

- Compared to the 2005 season, attendance last year is down 12%. In hard numbers, the Esks attracted 414,644 fans in 2005.

- Due to the volatile and unfriendly stock market, the Eskimos only made $45,248 through investing cash from their large stabilization fund last year. That number becomes somewhat troubling compared to the $823,106 the club made through investments in 2006.

The sharp drop in investment payoffs is why the Eskimos only declared $163,390 in net income for 2007 compared to $610,168 in 2006.

The rest of the 2007 financial statement, though, is full of very positive news.

- Game day revenues were up nearly $155,000.

"We sold a lot more tailgate (parties next to the field) - probably up 15%," added LeLacheur.

- The club received $1.57 million in CFL revenue - up $300,000 because of improved sponsorship deals.

- The operating profit for just the football operations side of the business was $229,054, up dramatically from $34,823 in 2006.

LeLacheur also revealed yesterday that $330,000 was paid in combined bonuses to QB Ricky Ray and linebacker Siddeeq Shabazz in 2007.

But that bonus money counts toward the 2008 cap.

SHORT YARDAGE ...

Sponsorship revenue remained flat in 2007 ($2.7 million) - partly because the club is running out of inventory to sell ... A breakdown of the Esks' revenue pie shows 48% comes from ticket sales - meaning the team is still a gate-driven operation ... The football operations side of the business cost $8.4 million to run in 2007.


Videos

Photos