BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) – There is new frustration from some local World Games providers. A supplier feels that the World Games were over-promised and under-delivered to suppliers. Now tens of thousands of dollars are in the hole.
At first, Tracey Kennedy had high hopes that the World Games would increase her business results. But she says that didn’t happen at all.
Kennedy owns California Country Organics. “In those 11 days, I made about $3,000,” she said.
She expected to earn at least $35,000. Multiple vendors told us they were told the World Games would draw more than 300,000 people.
“So you don’t even make $500 a day. It was detrimental not only to the vendors who were there. That we had to work hard to be there. It was a devastating blow to small businesses across the city,” Kennedy said.
Last week, we learned that more than a dozen local businesses and vendors have not been paid for their work during the global games. Event officials say the massive 11-day competition left a $14 million shortfall. This week, the Birmingham City Council voted to give $5 million in taxpayer dollars to help close the deficit. World Games CEO Nick Sellers says the city will get things in return.
“This additional investment that we are requesting will provide continued value as the organizing committee shares all of the data, information and best practices that you have heard about today,” Sellers told the city council earlier this week.
Kennedy says he spent his life savings on the World Games. Her entire experience is leaving her and other providers with many unanswered questions.
“It was just one of those things where they just said, you know the numbers are down, we have to be realistic about this and be honest, we as a city could have prepared better,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy got $2,000 in reimbursement for provider fees, but she thinks that’s not enough.
World Games leaders believe the international event has still done more good than harm. They believe that the next economic impact figures will prove it. Still, they stress that these big events usually don’t make a profit.
We received this statement from the Birmingham Organizing Committee:
“Sadly, the Birmingham Organizing Committee was not given an opportunity to initially comment on this story. But we appreciate the opportunity to follow up. Merchant’s Market was an attempt by the Birmingham Organizing Committee’s Community Involvement Team to help support local vendors and give them the opportunity to sell their wares.
To the extent projections were made regarding attendance at a potential Merchant’s Market vendor, it was based on expectations from previous World Games and tickets sold/distributed to date. We’ve been clear, including on July 13 during the initial report from some vendors on Merchant’s Market who were dissatisfied, that we would refund their vendor fee if requested. And, in fact, we reimburse every provider fee requested.
Many vendors made the decision to continue with us after we heard their complaints about lack of foot traffic and sales and moved them to a higher traffic location during the Games. And many saw their sales improve significantly. The Birmingham Organizing Committee marketed The World Games Plaza and Merchant’s Market on all our platforms. But we were unable to control for hot weather, daily attendance at The Plaza, and other factors, including public interest and demand for each vendor’s product, that could have led to lower-than-expected sales for a specific vendor.”
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