The World Games 2022 closed in Birmingham last month after falling $14 million short of breaking even.
The World Games began on July 7 and concluded on July 17 with a celebration at Protective Stadium. It hosted 3,459 athletes from 99 different countries who competed in 34 sports. The games took place around 23 venues throughout the greater Birmingham area.
According to a press release, 375,000 spectators watched the event. Those who did not watch the games in person could watch them on television in 80 countries.
World Games 2022 CEO Nick Sellers released a statement to 1819 News addressing the deficit.
Despite the deficit, Sellers said the event actually ended up costing $10 million less than the original budget anticipated.
“We delivered an amazing event for $65 million, $10 million under the original budget of $75 million,” Sellers said.
According to Sellers, the World Games 2022 is working with public and private partners to satisfy the organization’s debts. He said that any additional funds contributed by the city of Birmingham and Jefferson County will be used to satisfy outstanding invoices to the Birmingham area and international partners.
According to media reports, Birmingham invested at least $65 million in a public and private partnership, which helped fund The World Games. Though corporate sponsorships paid for most of it, Birmingham contributed $3 million in 2022, combined with $2.7 million for police overtime. The Jefferson County Commission contributed $5 million and $1.2 million for overtime for deputies.
On the first day of the games, the Birmingham City Council gave emergency spending authority to Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin. The city asked Gov. Kay Ivey to declare a state of emergency to authorize emergency expenditures, but Ivey’s office declined.
Sellers said he blamed the latest COVID-19 spike as a potential reason the event saw fewer travelers from China and Europe than expected.
“That contributed to weaker-than-hoped-for ticket sales and some open hotel room nights outside of the city’s core,” Sellers said. “The virus also delayed the Games a year, adding significantly to our costs.”
Sellers said the poor economy also caused two large sponsors to withdraw weeks before the games.
“This was a massive undertaking,” Sellers said. “And we’ve communicated an expected budget deficit to our public and private partners since the pandemic. The challenging economy and recent spike in COVID made the deficit worse than expected.”
Nevertheless, Sellers said he is proud of his organizing committee.
“This event is a major platform for the Summer Olympic Games,” Sellers said. “And we delivered an Olympic-caliber program.”
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