By Scott Strasser, April 26 2017 —
It may be the most popular event of the year, but Bermuda Shorts Day puts a heavy dent on the University of Calgary Students’ Union’s finances.
Since relocating the beer gardens from the MacHall south quad to Lot 32 in 2009 to account for construction of the Taylor Family Digital Library, organizing and running BSD has increased in operating costs for the SU. The event cost $130,000 to put on in 2016.
However, in terms of revenue, the SU only made $60,000 in drink sales and about $1,100 from food trucks from BSD in 2016, resulting in a nearly $70,000 net loss.
Outgoing SU vice-president operations and finance and incoming president Branden Cave said that prior to 2009, BSD brought in around $80,000–$100,000 in revenue. He said revenue from drink sales has decreased in recent years.
“Since then we’ve seen a decrease in our revenue from beverages, but our expenses have maintained [relatively the same],” Cave said.
The SU budgeted for $90,000 in revenue from BSD in their 2016–17 operating budget. Cave said that number is based on an average. However, the operating budget did not include projected expenses. Cave said financial information from this year’s BSD will be released in the next few weeks.
The biggest expense for BSD is security, which accounts for one third of all expenses. According to the SU, about 100 security personnel are on hand during the event, including campus security officers, backstage staff, Emergency Medical Services personnel and Calgary Police Services (CPS). The SU partners with CPS to arrange for check stops around the university to prevent drinking and driving. The U of C also pays for a portion of BSD’s security costs.
Cave said that setting up the stage, running the concert and paying for musical acts is the second largest expense and cost the SU about $21,000 in 2016.
Renting the parking lot for the day is another significant BSD expense and cost the SU about $11,000 in 2016. Cave said the SU has to rent each individual parking space in Lot 32 from the U of C in order to house the beer gardens.
“The parking lot itself — which includes help from parking services in running the wristband area, checking people’s IDs to make sure they’re students and traffic mitigation — comes to about $11,000,” he said.
Other BSD expenses include distributing roughly 6,000 free water bottles to students, setting up fencing for the parking lot perimeter, renting ATMs and portable bathrooms and paying SU staff.
Cave said BSD is still an important event for the SU, despite the event’s deficit. He noted that the SU still runs a balanced budget.
“We want to make sure students’ money is spent how they would like it to be spent,” Cave said “Based on the participation rates we have with BSD [it is] the most popular event and the one alumni speak most highly about when they leave. I think the event itself is well-appreciated by students and it’s just about making sure they’re getting the best value for their money.”
Cave said the SU discusses the financial sustainability of BSD every year. He said he couldn’t comment for sure whether or not the SU would ever consider charging cover for the event.
“It’s one of those things we talk about and look into but I can’t really say either way,” he said.
Around 8,000 U of C students attend the BSD beer gardens each year.