Penticton’s new triathlon lost $377,032 in its first year, according to a financial snapshot released Tuesday.
Expenses for the inaugural Challenge Penticton in August 2013 totalled $1,129,427, while revenue from registrations and sponsorships took in just $752,395.
“We knew that we were not going to be in a profit position at the end of our very first year,” said Paulette Rennie, chairwoman of the board of the Penticton Triathlon Race Society, which operates the event.
“This (was) a startup year, so now what we’ll do is continue to work really hard to raise other revenues… and we’re also looking in every possible fashion to cut any expenses we can.”
While the financial report listed $473,000 in costs, such as $66,000 for equipment rentals and $130,000 for registration refunds, a full accounting wasn’t provided since the society’s financial statements contain proprietary information, Rennie explained, adding though that 69 per cent of all expenditures were local.
She noted too that while the society was in the hole $377,000 as of Oct. 31, the end of its fiscal year, it’s now “cash-flow positive” thanks to registration fees for this year’s race on Aug. 24.
Rennie said “just shy of 800” athletes from 16 countries have already signed up, and the race should soon eclipse last year’s total of 920, which was about a third of the athletes who participated in the final Ironman Canada event here in 2012.
Despite having cash on hand, the society still owes $200,000 on a line of credit backed by the City of Penticton, which owns the Challenge-brand licence.
Rennie would not comment on the society’s tolerance for ongoing losses.
“We don’t even go there…. This race is going to be successful and we still believe we will be profitable at the end of five years, if not sooner,” she said.
That optimism is shared by Penticton city council.
“We knew this race was going to take several years to build and it was going to require an investment from the community,” said Coun. Wes Hopkin.
“But instead of all the money leaving the community through Ironman, it now stays here with Challenge.”
Hopkin declined to speculate about how much of a loss the city would be willing to underwrite in years ahead.
“I don’t think we want to comment necessarily on hypotheticals,” he said, adding he still has full confidence in the city-appointed society board.
“For this race to be successful it needs to grow and it needs to find sponsors, and we need to make sure that we’re supportive of this race so that those sponsors realize this race is here to succeed and the community is behind it.”
Rennie said increasing business and community support for Challenge Penticton will be a priority in the months ahead.
“Unfortunately the media hasn’t helped us in that sense is some ways, but the community, I believe, isn’t as best informed as they could (be),” she said.
“We’re going to continue to improve upon our communications, let the community know how we’re doing, what’s going on. But at the same time, we need this community to rally around us.”
Other members of the Challenge Penticton board, which had a closed-door annual general meeting Monday, are vice-chair Diana Stirling, secretary Gord Ferguson, treasurer Andre Martin, plus directors at large Annette Antoniak, Peter Byrnes, Alan Kidd and Bruce Schoenne.