Birmingham vendors owed millions after World Games leaders say event left $14M deficit

World Games facing $14 million deficit
Published: Aug. 15, 2022 at 10:17 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Birmingham city leaders say more than a dozen local businesses and vendors have not been paid for their work during The World Games.

Event officials tell WBRC that the massive 11-day competition left behind a $14 million deficit. That’s after costing $65 million to produce.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin asked City Council on August 15 for another $five million to help pay this debt. The World Games CEO, Nick Sellers, tells WBRC if City Council approves the money, it would go directly to their outstanding debt with local businesses.

“We don’t need any Birmingham businesses failing,” City Council member Darrell O’Quinn said. “We cant leave these vendors hanging. I mean some of them are owed very substantial amounts of money. I know one vendor in particular, it’s an excess of $1million that they are owed.”

O’Quinn said World Games officials met with council members last week to share their plans to get the vendor’s their money. He said Mayor Woodfin also discussed the multiple different options from where the city can pull the money from.

“Their plan is have the city of Birmingham cover one portion,” O’Quinn said. “Then, the Jefferson County Commission cover another big chunk, and then talk to the Convention and Visitors Bureau to have them cover a portion as well. Then, the remaining balance, I believe is about $3 million, they would raise from private sector. That’s the plan.”

World Games CEO Sellers blames low ticket sales on the international impacts of Covid-19 and a loss of sponsorships at the last minute.

“The challenging economy and recent spike in COVID made the deficit worse than expected,” Sellers said in a statement to WBRC. “But, we are confident that our partners will stand with us and support this final investment to help us balance the budget and honor our commitments to our vendors - most of whom are local.”

Click here for the full statement from The World Games CEO.

But, O’Quinn said if council does approve the $5 million request, it could still be weeks before vendors get paid.

“Some of these companies are very new,” O’Quinn said. “They came about because of the opportunity The World Games presented. We definitely encouraged people to get out in front of The World Games and take advantage of this opportunity.”

Councilor O’Quinn tells WRC he thinks The World Games are still a big success for the city, because of the global interest it brought here.

Council is set to discuss the topic on August 23. He said there is hesitancy around some council members, because they know the money is also needed elsewhere. If the final $5 million is approved, O’Quinn says the city will have spend around $12 million on The World Games.

“It’s not an easy decision,” O’Quinn said. “There is some hesitation, because providing basic city services like police protection, fire and rescue, public works, and sanitation, those are the essentials of what we are here to do. When those things are lacking, we definitely hear about it. So, this $5 million , could potentially go towards addressing the city’s basic needs.”


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