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  • Vancouver View: Taxpayers -- IOC Help VANOC Balance Budget


    The 2010 Winter Games organization made its first financial disclosure in almost a year on Dec. 17, claiming a balanced $1.884 billion budget. The budget was $250 million greater than contemplated in the May 2007 business plan.

    “Things actually became, in many cases, actually more expensive which was a bit of a surprise to many of us,” chief financial officer John McLaughlin said of the impact of the recession.

    The financial disclosure from VANOC shows that Canadian governments spent $188 million for the Olympic opening ceremony, torch relay, medical services and the Paralympic Games.

    The federal and British Columbia governments already built-in a $110 million legacy fund to keep the Whistler Sliding Centre, Whistler Olympic Park and Richmond Olympic Oval operating after the Games.

    “Every available penny we could get our hands on we tried to invest in the Games to deliver the best experience we could for the country,” said chief executive John Furlong. “This was Vancouver and British Columbia’s opportunity to do something profound for the country and for the world.”

    The financial report was released at a news conference in the headquarters of taxpayer-owned utility BC Hydro. Former VANOC construction executive Dan Doyle is BC Hydro’s chairman and ex-deputy CEO Dave Cobb is its president.

    The Games were not sold out, but VANOC still managed to reach its $260 million revenue target from tickets. The original 1.6 million inventory was cut to 1.54 million by cancellation of tickets to Cypress Mountain because of weather and to Whistler area events because of limited bus capacity.

    Of the 1.49 million tickets sold, VANOC earned $111.9 million from 642,223 sold for men’s and women’s hockey. The opening and closing ceremonies were at 60,000-seat B.C. Place Stadium, but VANOC announced 87,769 tickets worth $61.5 million were sold.

    VANOC reported another $9 million of sales for Paralympic, Cultural Olympiad and test event tickets.

    VANOC reported nearly $175 million in revenue from IOC top sponsors, more than three-quarters of which was in-kind. Total IOC contributions were almost $480 million. Domestically, VANOC counted $431.4 million cash and $309.1 million in-kind.

    VANOC received $54.6 million in licensed merchandise royalties and $175.6 million from miscellaneous sources, such as Rate Card, accommodation booking and ticketholder bus tickets.

    The entire scope of public money in VANOC coffers was not disclosed. Government-owned monopolies BC Hydro, B.C. Lottery Corporation, ICBC, Royal Canadian Mint, Port Metro Vancouver and Canada Post bought sponsorship and ticket packages. Nine Canadian provinces, three territories and five local municipalities were also sponsors with ticket-buying and advertising rights.

    The biggest division budget was $723 million for Services and Games operations, including $173.5 million for transportation. The final cost was $50 million higher than budgeted in May 2007, driven by a $40 million increase in bus systems. Executive vice-president Terry Wright cited an unspecified change in accounting for the increase.

    The David Atkins-produced ceremonies cost $79.1 million. On April 30, VANOC paid a nominal $10 to take over the Australian production company’s Vancouver business and change its name to 0815308 B.C. Ltd.

    VANOC also reported an $8 million foreign exchange loss.

    “The only activity remaining is to settle claims, complete some venue remediation, collect accounts owing and legally dissolve the organization,” said the report.

    The IOC made an unprecedented $22 million pledge in summer 2009 after falling two global sponsors short of an 11-company roster for Vancouver 2010. The report said VANOC received $29.9 million from the IOC after the VANOC fiscal year ended July 31.

    B.C. NDP Olympic critic Kathy Corrigan said the budget was balanced “on the backs of British Columbians” and she called the Olympic experience “an economic bust.”

    Earlier Friday, a PricewaterhouseCoopers study paid for by the federal and B.C. governments found the Games pumped $2.3 billion into the province’s economy over a seven-year period. Previous estimates ranged between $4 billion and $10 billion. The B.C. GDP is worth more than $190 billion a year.

    With reporting from Bob Mackin in Vancouver.

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