Jefferson County Commission delays discussion on World Games deficit
The Jefferson County Commission on Tuesday delayed discussion and possible action regarding a reported $14 million deficit in the operations of The World Games 2022.
Commissioner Joe Knight, the commission’s finance committee chairman and liaison to The World Games, said the commission has been asked for an additional $4 million to address the shortfall.
While moving the matter to the committee agenda of Sept. 6, Knight said he still counts the 11-day sports event as a triumph for the metro area.
“The Jefferson County Commission continues our efforts to support The World Games 2022,” Knight said, reading from a prepared statement. “Although not contractually obligated, the commission has partnered with Birmingham, the State of Alabama, the Convention Bureau and the corporate community to bring these games to our community. The Games were a success in the eyes of the athletes, the fans and the 3,400 volunteers who made this possible.
“On the down side, there exists outstanding balances, as is often the case in events of this magnitude,” the commissioner continued. “We will continue work with all partners in order to bring this to an amicable conclusion.”
Knight acknowledged that there may be disagreement among commission members about spending more money on the games.
“Some of the commissioners may vote for it, some may not,” he said. “But I’m going to work with the other partners to get this resolved and behind us so we don’t have a bad mark on the event,” he told media between the commission’s committee meeting and regular meeting, both of which were held Tuesday.
Ron Jackson, a longtime citizen activist, said Jefferson County should give no more taxpayer money to The World Games.
“This was a business proposition that was miscalculated and speculated upon and our taxpayers are not going to pay for it,” said Jackson, who is executive director of Citizens for Better Schools and Sustainable Communities. “We’re letting the commission and everyone else know that we want The World Games Organizing Committee to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy right now so that the unsecured creditors … we want them paid.”
Commission President Jimmie Stephens said it is premature to do anything immediately concerning The World Games’ debt. He said there needs to be an accounting to determine what the “contractual partners” were doing to reduce the deficit.
“One thing we will not do,” Stephens said. “We will not take taxpayer dollars that are designed for improving our roads and transportation and allocate those from the citizens who elected us to The World Games that have come and gone.”