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Hard Times Force BCA to Cut Events, Programs
Aug 21, 2008, 11:47 AM


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The 2008 Expo barely broke even, prompting the board to tighten its belt.
BROOMFIELD, Colo. — Forecasting an $800,000 operating loss this year on its balance sheet after a disappointing Expo in June, the Billiard Congress of America is planning to tighten its belt several notches in its next fiscal year and cut support for some high-profile events and organizations.

Among the casualties will be the BCA’s annual professional 9-ball tournament, produced this year as the GenerationPool.com 9-Ball Championships. The BCA also has elected not to stage an induction ceremony for new members of the BCA Hall of Fame elected in 2009.

Those high-profile annual events were just two of the programs slashed from the 2008-2009 budget when the BCA Board of Directors met in Lake Forest, Ill., in early August. With the billiard industry still mired in a horrendous economic slump and the BCA coming off its smallest trade show in 15 years, the board of directors voted to eliminate events and affiliated association support for at least one year.

“The board voted to suspend funding to all sources and organizations until we can better analyze the extent of this economic downturn,” said BCA President Sean Cummings of Brunswick Billiards in an embargoed interview last week. “We can’t continue deficit spending, and we determined that the best way to handle budget cuts was with a uniform approach.”

Cummings left open the possibility that an outside organization could take the reins of the 9-ball event or Hall of Fame ceremony. “The question is at what level of quality they would be staged,” he said. “If somebody wants to do it right, we would certainly entertain it.”

The BCA, which derives virtually all of its revenue from its annual International Billiard & Home Recreation Expo and through membership dues, is projecting an $800,000 net operating loss for its 2007-08 fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30. The association’s annual pro 9-ball tournament, which the BCA produces for telecast on ESPN, loses more than $100,000 per year, while the annual Hall of Fame ceremonies typically run at a $50,000 deficit.

While the final numbers from the 2008 Expo had not been tallied as of last week, Cummings said that the Charlotte, N.C.-based show would make at least a $60,000 profit or slightly more. For perspective, the 2006 BCA Expo in Houston generated a $1.1 million profit for the association.

The disappointing result and changed expectations prompted the BCA board to budget very conservatively for 2008-2009.

“We had to make tough choices,” Cummings said. “We cut discretionary spending, spending on the home office, contracted services …”

The BCA contracts its member services, accounting, technology, association management and some public relations/marketing with Meeting Expectations in Atlanta. The association manages the expo, marketing and some graphic design through its office in Broomfield, Colo. Cuts in those areas are likely to be confined to employee time allocation.

In addition to the GenerationPool.com 9-Ball Championships and the Hall of Fame inductions, the BCA will suspend its financial support of pool-related organizations such as the National Wheelchair Poolplayers Association and Association of College Unions-International (ACU-I). According to Cummings, the BCA will continue as the North American member confederation to the World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA), but will not supply funds for American players to travel to WPA events.

According to Johnson, the budget cuts will save the BCA approximately $300,000 in the coming budget year. Johnson insisted that education and research will continue to be funded.

In further efforts to reel in spending, the BCA will reduce its commitment at the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas to a single hall for the 2009 Expo next June. The move will reduce convention center costs to just over $100,000, while maintaining space for about 1,000 booths.

“We have a singular objective,” said Cummings. “And that is to make the trade show a success.”

Even taking into account the proposed budget cuts, the BCA is tentatively forecasting a $200,000 loss for the 2008-2009 budget year.

Still, Cummings stressed that the association is financially sound, despite the board’s recent decisions.

“These decisions are simply necessary to preserve the ability to promote our industry over the long term,” he said. “This organization is doing exactly what our members are doing in their businesses, evaluating expenses and making tough choices to get through this slump.”

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