Birmingham agrees to $5M bailout of World Games debt

Sports

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — City leaders complained, yet agreed to a $5 million bailout to help The World Games 2022 reduce a roughly $15 million debt from the sporting event held last month in Birmingham.

Mayor Randall Woodfin said the metro area did benefit from the 11-day Olympics-style competition. But he also joined council members in criticizing a lack of transparency about the finances of the event, which featured sports ranging from parachuting to billiards.

“I know each of you enough to know this sucks,” Mayor Randall Woodfin told the council at their meeting on Tuesday. “I feel the same way you feel.”

The World Games lost $2.5 million in expected sponsorships in May and ticket sales fell about 200,000 short of projections, said Nick Sellers, chief executive of the World Games Organizing Committee. While expenses were lower than projected, the lack of revenue still caused a budget crunch, he said.

More than 100 companies or individuals, many of them from Alabama, are owed about $15 million, officials said. Some area companies also complained about a decline in business during the event, which didn’t draw the expected number of international visitors during its run from July 7-17.

The Birmingham games marked only the second time a U.S. city had played host to the World Games in its four-decade-long existence.