CrossFit Semifinals Directors Talk Harsh Financial Realities of Running Events

July 24, 2022 by
Photo Credit: Athlete's Eye Photography

In 2018, CrossFit founder and then owner Greg Glassman was frank about the financial truths of running Regional competitions.

It’s extremely expensive. Look at the Brazil event. We’re at the venue where the Olympics were held. It cost me over a million dollars and what comes out of it is two people go to the Games,” Glassman said.

Four years later, Atlas Games Semifinal Co-Owner and Director Alexis Leblanc-Bazinet is facing a similar reality: He has discovered it’s challenging to even break even, let alone turn a Semifinals event into a profitable business.

Why this matters: Until 2019, CrossFit LLC incurred the costs and responsibilities of finding the fittest athletes to compete at the CrossFit Games. Glassman himself even said running Regional competitions was never a money-making endeavor for the company. That being said, we can speculate that CrossFit LLC was able to fund CrossFit competitions largely because of the revenue they generated from affiliation fees and Level 1 certifications.

  • But in 2019, CrossFit passed the financial burden—first via Sanctionals and now via Semifinals—to outside organizers like Leblanc-Bazinet, whose businesses don’t always have other revenue streams like CrossFit LLC does, and are now responsible for finding a way to do something CrossFit wasn’t able to do: Turn their events into profitable businesses.
  • “It was a business call (for CrossFit), and people jumped. We did. We jumped in with a plan where we could make money at the end of it if everything could go right,” said Leblanc-Bazinet, who is also a gym owner and works full-time as a website designer.

The Atlas Games Reality: Unfortunately, almost nothing has gone right for Semifinals organizers like Leblanc-Bazinet, who wasn’t able to host an in-person competition in either 2020 or 2021 due to the pandemic, which caused him to dive into his own wallet to stay afloat.

  • “I took most of the (financial) hit myself,” he said, adding that he has spent the last two years essentially volunteering countless hours of his time to keep the event alive.
  • “Depending on what you consider a loss…Is three year of salary a loss? I have been volunteering for three years,” he explained.
  • What about 2022? Though COVID-19 can arguably be blamed for the last two years, even when Leblanc-Bazinet raised his ticket prices for the recent Atlas Games held in Montreal, Quebec to CA$45 a day, or $115 for the weekend, the event was only able to turn a small profit, and Leblanc-Bazinet was able to take small stipend after three years of not paying himself.
  • Though grim from a business standpoint, Leblanc-Bazinet said he doesn’t blame CrossFit.  “More sponsors would help, but I don’t have a lot of complaints (about CrossFit),” he said.

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