Loud and Live Sports Delays Some WZA Payments, Illustrates Financial Difficulties for Sanctional Organizers in the COVID-19 World
On Sunday, May 10, a Reddit user created a post on the popular subreddit r/CrossFit under the title “Wodapalooza NOT PAYING media team and contractors for work done.” The post included a screenshot of an undated email from a Loud and Live Sports representative (with the individual’s name redacted) clearly written in response to an inquiry about an unpaid invoice. The post has since been removed and the user’s profile deleted, but not before generating 148 comments and replies.
What happened: Loud and Live ultimately delivered payment to the contracted employees, primarily emcees, media (photo, video and editing) and other staff. According to a source at L&L, checks for outstanding invoices were issued on Friday, May 8, 76 days after the conclusion of Wodapalooza on February 23. It was a regrettable delay in payment due to a nearly unprecedented global disaster.
- This series of events though provides more insight into the financial position event hosts and Sanctional organizers find themselves in the aftermath of COVID-19 lockdown cancelations.
The Morning Chalk Up reached out to Loud and Live President, Matthew O’Keefe, and he provided the following statement which aligns with what we have concluded in covering the COVID-19 ravaged season:
- “These are unprecedented times for us and the entire Sanctionals community as we try to navigate through the rescheduling of our events. As you can imagine, running a multi-event business requires a lot of forward investment, including planning & production costs, venue rentals and marketing expenses among others, a vast portion of which isn’t recoverable and others which take time to recover. We have been communicating with our community of event collaborators, and we are working diligently on resolving outstanding matters. We appreciate our community’s continued support and patience during these extraordinary times as we continue to plan for a strong return to action.”
What’s the story here: The Morning Chalk Up first learned of this development on May 6 on a tip from “a variety of contracted staff” who worked for Loud and Live at Wodapalooza and subsequently received additional information from some other Wodapalooza media contractors.
The email screenshot included with the May 10 Reddit post explained to the recipient, “Your invoice was meant to be paid by April 1 and all were in the chute.” It’s worth noting that the payment schedule here roughly correlates to a “NET30” formula where invoices are paid 30 days from the completion of work. For an event like Wodapalooza, this is a quick turnaround, illustrating Loud and Live’s investment in the larger CrossFit ecosystem.
- From the email: “However, as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, a freeze on all payments was instated in March and L & L has been working out ways to get people paid.”
- “I do not know when this will happen and much will depend on the general economy and our ability to begin operations again in the future,” it continued.
- Importantly, the email also stated: “You haven’t been forgotten and your invoice is not lost. Please have patience as we navigate how to manage finances during this unprecedented time. I regret the burden this puts on each of you as I’m sure you were counting on this being paid, earlier.”
It was only a few days ago that the CanWest CrossFit Championship laid out in stark detail, the financial pressure a Sanctional cancelation places on its hosts as it tries to walk a fine line between being able to refund registered athletes and avoid bankruptcy.
- In an email to registered competitors, CanWest organizers wrote: “The primary reason that we cannot offer refunds to every single Athlete is very simple: the event is almost entirely paid for and ready to go. Most of these fees are completely non-refundable to us and are only transferable to the future event. This includes: the venue, which costs almost a third of Athlete registration, Volunteer and Athlete swag, travel and accommodation for the Volunteer event team, catering for volunteers, security, the CanWest App, equipment, signage, the CrossFit Sanctioning fee, and much more,” it continued.
- To put it more bluntly, they said: “If 3 out of 10 people request an immediate refund, CanWest will go bankrupt and there will not be a 2021, or any future events. [sic]”
The bottom line: Loud and Live Sports owns and operates Wodapalooza, one of the most successful Sanctional events of the season, hosting over 40,000 spectators and offering a total prize purse of $400,000 for top-ten finishers in the elite and team divisions. While Loud and Live successfully carried out Wodapalooza in late-February, it is also the organizer and host of:
- West Coast CrossFit Classic — Postponed indefinitely on March 12.
- Madrid CrossFit Championship — Postponed indefinitely on March 23.
- The Granite Games — Postponed indefinitely on March 25.
- Mayan CrossFit Classic — Postponed indefinitely on April 20.
All of these events have been postponed indefinitely, leaving Loud and Live in a similar position as the hosts of CanWest described above, but multiplied by a factor of four.