A scene from a kickboxing event in Yellowknife in 2023. Photo: Scott Thomson
A fundraising event to help the NWT’s kickboxers reach their national championships backfired after soaring travel costs nearly doubled expenses, organizers say.
Scott Thomson and John Stanley say a kickboxing tournament held in Yellowknife last weekend ended up with expenses of $45,000. The event’s budget had been $25,000.
“The most we’ve ever spent on any event is $17,500. This was almost triple that,” said Stanley, who co-owns Yellowknife’s Stanley Boxing and Fitness with Thomson.
“Under a normal budget we would have made about $20,000 on this event.”
Thomson said: “Nothing could have prepared us for this. Now our fundraiser has drained us and we don’t know exactly how we will take our athletes to nationals.”
The two say the February 18 event was a success on the night, but flight costs for athletes, coaches and officials had increased well beyond organizers’ expectations, while last-minute alterations to some participants’ itineraries – due to flight delays and cancellations – cost even more money.
“We had budgeted for $25,000 but when we started booking the flights, we realized it was going to be more than that,” said Stanley.
With some flights already booked and ticket sales under way, Stanley said organizers felt they had no option but to continue spending more on the remaining flights even as costs mounted.
“Prices were extremely high,” he said. “We had no choice but to go forward, we had already made a bunch of purchases and people had spent their money.”
The loss of thousands of dollars came despite sponsorship from Canadian North. Exempting that airline from their broader criticism, Stanley and Thomson – giving the example of a $1,200 flight from Edmonton to Yellowknife – said costs could soon make most events in Yellowknife uneconomical to run.
“They’ve reduced the amount of flights available, Stanley said of the airlines. “I understand their expenses have gone up as well … but the general public are not even going to be able to afford to fly.”
Thomson said kickboxing’s national championships are coming up in Niagara Falls, Ontario at the end of March, and this month’s fundraiser proved so damaging that the NWT’s team has had to launch a fresh fundraising effort online.
The new fundraiser has a $10,000 goal. $1,200 had been raised as of Saturday morning.
If the money can be found, the NWT hopes to send a team of six.
Stanley, meanwhile, said NWT Kickboxing may have to look at holding summer events where travellers arrive by car if flight costs remain this high.
“The type of event we did is going to be very difficult without changes,” he said.