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Winnipeg fans next goal? Sell 13,000 season tickets

May 31, 2011, 3:01 PM EDT

Winnipeg Thrashers Hockey AP

While the euphoria will continue in Winnipeg for the foreseeable future now that True North has announced they’re buying the Atlanta Thrashers and moving them to Manitoba, fans there have a job to do ahead of the NHL Board of Governors meeting on June 21.

While the Board of Governors will meet that day to officially approve the sale and relocation of the Thrashers, it’ll be up to Winnipeg fans to help convince them that they’re a more than viable location for an NHL team. How does one do that? True North wants to make it happen by selling 13,000 season tickets.

During the press conference, True North revealed a website, DriveTo13.com,  to point fans toward to help them plunk down their money towards securing the future of the team in the city as well as showing the NHL they’re not screwing around. Of course, that all comes at a price, and in this case a commitment of time as well as money. Here’s how things break down:

As you can see, there’s an added tweak to the pricing in that for the best seats in the house, to get a season ticket package you’ll have to commit to them for up to five years. Even for the worst seats in the MTS Centre you’ll need to buy in for three years. At least there you can get a half-season package but still… Whether it’s three or five years you’re asking for a lot of time and especially money from fans. If you want a pair of tickets in the top priced seats you’ll need to pay up $58,050 to do that. Needing to throw down $1,000 right off the bat hurts too.

Even for fans willing to get a pair of seats in the “worst” seats in MTS Centre that will cost $10,530 for the three year commitment. We’re figuring buying a pair of seats is more likely than just a single seat so that’s why we’re measuring the numbers out that way. Obviously if you want just the one ticket number is, cut the figure in half.

Fans in Winnipeg have gotten used to AHL prices over the last 15 years with the Manitoba Moose so there’s legitimate concern that the sticker shock will stun some fans into backing off of buying tickets. Doing that, however, might give the Board of Governors reason to pause on approving the sale.

The other part of the team going to Winnipeg is need to prove it’s a viable market for the NHL. Since the MTS Centre is set to be the smallest venue in the NHL next season, they’ll virtually need to be sold out nightly for the team to not end up another potential financial mess. Of course, that possibility is lessened by having billionaire David Thomson involved with the True North group.

For years the fans in Winnipeg have clamored for the return of the NHL, now it’s their turn to put their money where their mouth is. Only thing we wonder about is just how fast they’ll get to 13,000 tickets sold.

  1. govtminion - May 31, 2011 at 3:20 PM

    I won’t make the joke about finding 13,000 people in Winnipeg first.

    But… I will ask whether they really think 13,000 people are interested in making a multi-year commitment to a team that… well, let’s be honest, is still the Atlanta Thrashers, just wearing a different shirt. Five years of bad-to-medicore hockey? Hmmm. Good luck.

    • sasksleddog - May 31, 2011 at 5:16 PM

      Winnipeg fans know all about dealing with mediocre hockey. In the Jets’ first two years in the NHL (after all their good players had been stolen away by the agreement to merge the WHA and the NHL) the team won 29 of 160 games. In the team’s first five years in the NHL they didn’t have a single winning season – the closest they came to one was their third season when they finished 33-33-14. It doesn’t get much more mediocre than that, and the people still came.

  2. 89seminole - May 31, 2011 at 3:22 PM

    Complaining already about ticket commitments? What did you think was going to happen, it’s always about ticket sales in small markets. Get off your wallets Jets fans, put up or shut up!

    • hystoracle - Jun 1, 2011 at 10:27 AM

      five year commitment or you get nothing?? Really? wow, it’s basically a seat license. It will definitely force some people away who want to be in the building.

  3. whatagreatfootballmind - May 31, 2011 at 3:58 PM

    It might be the Atlanta Thrashers, however at least it is an established team that is coming and not a down right expansion franchise where maybe, if your lucky you can get a player in the draft to help you. It’s not like they are getting a team full of current NHL team castoffs.

    • ThatGuy - May 31, 2011 at 4:23 PM

      Plus the Thrashers aren’t that far off talent wise, their D is solid, Chris Mason is fine and net and they have a young crop of forwards. Kane and Burmistrov are both only 19. Cormice is 20, they have a lot of young talent that could make a playoff berth in the near future.

  4. ikcotol - May 31, 2011 at 4:18 PM

    I’m in Winnipeg and am actually concerned I won’t be able to get tickets. I have no issues signing up for 5 years at any of those prices, and will do my best Saturday at noon.

    The difference between Winnipeg and Atlanta is that 90% of the city is made up of hard core hockey fans. We will support this team through thick and thin, because no matter what happens we still get to watch LIVE NHL HOCKEY.

    The economics from 1996 are completely different, and we have an ownership group THAT CARES. (another HUGE difference from Atlanta).

    This drive will go smooth and fast.

    • ThatGuy - May 31, 2011 at 4:34 PM

      So who is your new favorite player?

      • ikcotol - May 31, 2011 at 4:48 PM

        Not sure yet, got to see the new team live.

    • ikcotol - May 31, 2011 at 4:50 PM

      I should say though, that I am concerned that I won’t get tickets because demand will far outstrip supply. I will be surprised otherwise.

      True test is 10 years down the road….if the bandwagon has some bumps only the true fans will hang on.

    • hystoracle - Jun 1, 2011 at 10:29 AM

      Your building still holds less than any other in the league. Your sell out capacity would be seen as an attendance failure in some NHL cities. The first thing they need to do is build a bigger barn.

      • bcbailey64 - Jun 1, 2011 at 12:10 PM

        LOL! According to your reckoning about 8 US teams should be eliminated due to their poor attendance. That’s about right. Put hockey in markets where fans will support it. Canada.
        Winnipeg will sell out every game – guaranteed. Also, ticket prices in Winnipeg will be much higher than the prices in the cities listed. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

        23 Stars
        14,916
        80.5
        14,940
        14,421
        15,168
        16,990
        24 Avalanche
        14,798
        82.2
        14,915
        14,416
        15,535
        15,790
        25 Ducks
        14,653
        85.3
        14,738
        14,153
        13,947
        15,429
        26 Devils
        14,152
        80.3
        14,060
        13,861
        17,215
        17,680
        27 Blue Jackets
        13,495
        74.4
        13,122
        11,762
        15,416
        15,543
        28 Thrashers
        13,056
        70.4
        12,410
        11,625
        13,607
        14,626
        29 Coyotes
        11,434
        65.3
        10,840
        11,069
        12,735
        13,773
        30 NY Islanders
        10,214
        62.7
        9,961
        10,418
        11,989
        14,875

        http://www.mynhltraderumors.com/2011/03/14/nhl-attendance-for-each-team-after-30-home-games/

    • mdak06 - Jun 2, 2011 at 4:31 PM

      Good luck! I’m glad that the economics have changed so that hockey can be viable in Winnipeg again.

      Bettman commented several times at the press conference that the only way it would work is if there was a sellout each night. I’m guessing that probably won’t be a problem.

      Is there any chance that the MTS Centre could either be expanded slightly, or have standing room tickets?

  5. ThatGuy - May 31, 2011 at 4:33 PM

    Looking at that website one thing I find extremely odd is that the $1000 dollar deposit does not go towards the price of the tickets themselves. It is gets refunded after the first 3-5 year commitment is up, and can either be taken as cash or applied to future season tickets. Seems wierd to me that they would have them have to shell out a grand now, and another 2-6 grand later.

    • hystoracle - Jun 1, 2011 at 10:32 AM

      That’s a seat license or PSL. It’s been done in several US cities for Football. Gets the ownership a sustained commitment that they can build their economic model around. I have a feeling it was a requirement from the NHL to allow them to move the team. So, the NHL would be assured they wouldn’t have to move it again.
      The one thing I don’t understand is if they were going to move a team to Winnipeg any way why not just relocate Phoenix there. That’s where Phoenix came from originally and that team is a mess too.

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