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Hockey Coming Back to Winnipeg?

Scott

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I am away working right now and, as such, can't watch the Cup finals let alone news announcements about the Thrashers moving to Winnipeg...

But it seems to be pretty much  done deal now unless Bettman and company are coming to the 'Peg to give a gigantic, "Psyche!!!"

Just one of many stories here: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/winnipeg-set-to-celebrate-nhl-return/article2041112/ shared with the usual caveats.

Winnipeg set to celebrate NHL return
DAVID SHOATLS
WINNIPEG— Globe and Mail Update
Published Tuesday, May. 31, 2011 10:03AM EDT

When the long-awaited announcement finally came, it was in the under-stated style that marked the principals throughout the long pursuit of another NHL team for Winnipeg.

“True North Sports and Entertainment Limited invites you to join us at a press conference,” read the notice that popped into journalists’ e-mail in-boxes one minute before 8 a.m. Central time Tuesday morning. “Join us as we make a significant community announcement.”

It was that style as much as the financial might of True North owners David Thomson and Mark Chipman that finally paid off in the sale and move of the Atlanta Thrashers. Through the whole process, which began years ago when BlackBerry billionaire Jim Balsillie was enraging NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and his team owners with his grandiose plans to buy an NHL team for Hamilton, Ont., True North played it the NHL’s way.

There were no public comments from Chipman, the leader of this venture. He kept quiet, as Bettman demands it, while the negotiations bubbled away in the background.

The payoff came 11 days ago when True North and Atlanta Spirit, LLC, the Thrashers owners, reached an agreement in principle on a sale for $170-million (all currency U.S.). Days of agonizing remained for Winnipeg’s hockey fans, who were itching to celebrate the return of the NHL 15 years after the Jets left to become the Phoenix Coyotes but True North stayed the course and kept quiet.

Rick Dudley, the Thrashers general manager who will head north with his team in the coming weeks, said Monday he deliberately kept himself in the dark about the sale to minimize the distractions from his job of building the team. But he was well aware of how his new owners conduct themselves.

“True North doesn’t spread their business around,” Dudley said. “It’s that way now and they didn’t say anything when they were looking at the Phoenix Coyotes.”

The flirtation with the Coyotes was brief, coming in recent months when it looked like the Desert Dogs were once again on the verge of collapse. But when the taxpayers of Glendale, Ariz., were put on the hook by their political leaders for another $25-million in losses next season, True North turned back to its target all along, the Thrashers.

By Monday night, preparations were well under way for a celebration on Tuesday even if no one wanted to talk about it. But the fans were ready to party and pony up for the season-ticket drive that will be part of Tuesday’s announcement.

Dave Minuk, a recent law school graduate who writes for The Illegal Curve, a Winnipeg hockey web site and radio show, said the expected average ticket price of $75 at the MTS Centre will not be a problem.

“What you will see is people getting together to share [season] tickets,” he said. “There will be a lot of groups. For example, my dad is not a huge hockey fan but he’s planning to get in a group.”

I am VERY happy for Winnipeg and for Canadian hockey fans in general. My Jets t-shirt will be worn with pride when I get home.

Question: what with the somewhat recent news about naming lakes in Manitoba after fallen soldiers, who thinks it would be a great idea for the new franchaise to do something similar? Perhaps with seating sections or corporate boxes? I've never been to the MTS Center and do not know if they have their boxes named in such a fashion now or not. I think it would be a classy idea and would certainly be ednorsed by some of the hockey greats.

Thoughts?
 

Jeremy360

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There's a press conference scheduled at 11am EST if I recall correctly, so it's most likely a done deal.  Unless they're trying to incite a riot, either way really.

I was a bit too young at the time to truly remember the Jets or the Nordiques, but I couldn't be happier for the city.  If the owners spend to the cap and bring in talented staff the team could really go places.  That said, I think fans will show up in droves, win or lose.

Edit:  Correction, it's noon EST, 11 Central.  My mistake
 

Scott

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Confounded PAT said:
There's a press conference scheduled at 11am EST if I recall correctly, so it's most likely a done deal.  Unless they're trying to incite a riot, either way really.

I was a bit too young at the time to truly remember the Jets or the Nordiques, but I couldn't be happier for the city.  If the owners spend to the cap and bring in talented staff the team could really go places.  That said, I think fans will show up in droves, win or lose.

Fans are going to have to show up for this and be expected to dig into their pockets. The wisdom out there, based on what I have read, says that the new ownership will ask for commitments of three years from season ticket buyers. And corporate Winnipeg had better be ready to take boxes as well. That all said, I don't think the fellows at TNSE would have gone into this without first doing their homework.
 

medicineman

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Isn't this the second hockey team that Atlanta has lost in living memory?

MM
 

Scott

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Indeed, the Flames went to Calgary.

If you believe some of the sources out there, Atlanta only got a hockey club in the 70's to keep the rival WHA out of there...

The Thrashers ownership group seem very keen to scuttle the team after losing 20 million a year, one playoff berth, dismal attendance. I feel bad for the true fans there but I am elated for Winnipeg
 

Jeremy360

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The internet is an ugly place right now; it appears that Atlanta does have a few diehard fans, or people just truly hate Canadians. 

Either way, it takes a city to support a major league team in any sport.  I was there when the Grizzlies left Vancouver, some cared, but most people just shrugged it off.  They can't expect to hang on to a NHL franchise bleeding millions of dollars when most people would rather watch NCAA football.  It's a sad day for the real fans down there, but life goes on.

I can think of a few Canadian teams that would be in serious trouble if fans stopped showing up when the team stopped winning.  Hopefully teams like Nashville can keep the crazy fanbase they have going, because it is working in some markets.  With that out of the way, I still think Phoenix is only treading water, so we'll see what that turns into in the next few years.
 

medicineman

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I remmber watching Toronto knocking Atlanta out of the of the quarters their last season there...45 minute bench clearing brawl at the end of the second period of the last game.  Got to stay up late to watch that (was a diehard Leafs fan in my younger days).  Theat was I want to say 79 or 78??

MM
 

Scott

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The Flames left Atalanta in '80, IIRC.

Phoenix situation: much different than Atlanta. Like comparing apples to bowling balls.

Nashville: just what that team needed, when they needed it. Also a smaller (less dominated) sports market where, hopefully, fans make the team their own.

Atlanta: I think the team got lost in a city of, what, 5 million, as well as a few other major draws. Then again, the recession has also impacted them down there - some of the stuff I have read says that attendance even at Braves games has gone into the crapper.

The useless Canada/Winnipeg bashing: let them get it out of their system. Had the internet been what it is today in 1995 you would have seen a load of Phoenix trashing from Winnipeg.

Hockey in Canada: we're better off with the CBA (salary cap), better Canadian dollar, better reaction to the recession, better growth. Now if we can just convince some of those suntanned players to hit Winnipeg! Dustin Bfyuglien as a Jet, wow!
 

dimsum

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1 CFFTS better have some free tickets, since the CEO of True North Ltd. is their HCol...

http://www.airforce.forces.gc.ca/or-re/hc-ch/nr-sp/index-eng.asp?id=8045
 

Scott

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There won't be much room left...

The agreement of sale is done, now down to the NHL BoG.

TNSE has released a "Drive to 13,000" campaign found here: http://www.driveto13.com/index.php that lists ticket prices, based on buying a full or half season pass, from $39 to $129. Not too bad, compared. They are seeking 3, 4 and 5 year commitments from ticket buyers, depending on the level of seating you purchase - smart move, IMO.

Gte off your wallets, Winnipeg, you've waited a long time for this, don't let it go.
 

dapaterson

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This is bad news.

With Winnipeg getting professional hockey, Toronto is going to want it too...

 

Scott

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Only ten posts before we got that!! ;D

Hey, it's now a viable alternative for long suffering Leafs fans...
 

Jeremy360

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Those ticket prices are impressive and I can see myself making a few road trips if the Canucks roll into town next season.  It's kind of funny that they left Vancouver prices out of their comparison, but I suppose that it's not really a comparable market.

Cheers to the Winnipeg Jets/Thrashers/Moose(Frostbite, maybe?)  Whichever name they take they'll become my "other" team.  Anything to avoid becoming a Sens fan, I'm tired of staying up until 0100 for regular season games as well.  Did I miss the announcement or are they going to leave the name out of it until the Board votes on 21 June?
 

Scott

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I believe the name is the least of their concerns right now.

There are good arguments for both the Jets as well as something new. People have only been chanting "bring back the Jets" for fifteen years and I don't think it would matter if you named them the Assholes you'd still have jets swag showing up at the games. But there's a damn good business reason to come up with a new name: money. They're going to be drunk on this decision for a while in Winnipeg and TNSE has months to capitalize on goodwill generated by this in the way of purchases of new team colors/name branded material.

I like the Jets.

That said, I like hockey in Winnipeg much more than a name.
 

midget-boyd91

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Scott said:
Only ten posts before we got that!! ;D

Hey, it's now a viable alternative for long suffering Leafs fans...

Any REAL Leafs fan knows there is no alternative.... We're stuck. For life... With a crappy hockey team. Go Leafs! 
 

MJP

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Got season tickets with my brother...The remainder of the 13,000 tickets sold out in less than 5 minutes.
 

Scott

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Holy shit!

I knew they had just over 7 grand from the Moose season tickets holders. Wow. Statement effectively made. Good on the people of Winnipeg, there were some saying they wouldn't be able to get folks to commit.

So, MJP, do you like Scotch? ;D
 

MJP

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Scott said:
Holy crap!

I knew they had just over 7 grand from the Moose season tickets holders. Wow. Statement effectively made. Good on the people of Winnipeg, there were some saying they wouldn't be able to get folks to commit.

So, MJP, do you like Scotch? ;D

I am bribeable ;) 
 

Scott

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MJP said:
I am bribeable ;)

Just what I wanted to hear. It just so happens I am back and forth so much through duty free that I might as well be an importer. I shall keep you in mind should I find a reason, other than the Jets, to hit Winnipeg.
 

a_majoor

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Some of the numbers:

http://princearthurherald.com/archives/5551

McCourt: Winnipeg’s NHL Future, by the Numbers

Posted on June 4th, 2011 by Jacob McCourt in Sports

After fifteen years, the city of Winnipeg can finally throw their collective arms in the air; they succeeded. True North Sports and Entertainment announced the purchase of the Atlanta Thrashers organization from the Atlanta Spirit Group on May 31, 2011. The group that had taken ownership of the team in 2004 sold the team for $170M. The future of the team might still hang in the balance, and this article is not to provide an opinion of the relocation, but rather to show you some interesting numbers behind the purchase.

True North is partially responsible for bringing the team to the 'Peg.

15

This is the number of years since the Jets’ move from Winnipeg to Phoenix, Arizona.  The Winnipeg Jets played their last game in the province on April 28th, 1996 – a 4-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings in the playoffs. They went on to lose that series and move to Phoenix.

60,000,000

This is the amount of money the league’s 29 other teams will have to pay to relocate the franchise from Atlanta to Winnipeg. This number will only be significant if…

50%+1, 75%

…the Board of Governors of the NHL carry out a majority vote (50%+1) in favour of relocating the team. This same board must be 75% in favour in order for the team to be sold to True North.

3,561

Three thousand, five hundred sixty-one is the number of kilometers by car between the MTS Center in Winnipeg and the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, FL. This is the distance that the Winnipeg Jets will have to travel to on a regular basis to face one of their divisional rivals, the Florida Panthers. The NHL has decided that the team’s division and conference will not change for one year while they decide which team(s)’ division/conference will be changed. Time to rack up those air miles, because even if you are tired, you still have to play. Hopefully, the team stays consistent and avoids…

58

…a huge difference in points between seasons. The difference between the Atlanta Thrashers best year (2006-2007, 97 points) and their worst year (1999-2000, 39 points) is 58 points.

15,015

15,015 fans will be able to fill the NHL Team’s new home, the MTS Centre. Built in 2004 for the AHL’s Manitoba Moose, this number is very significant for the franchise. This would become the smallest rink in the NHL. It is smaller than the New York Islanders’ 16,250-seat Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and the Edmonton Oilers’ 16,839-seat Rexall Place. Even the Atlanta Thrashers had a larger arena with capacity for 18,545 seats. However, many have speculated that this isn’t the largest problem due to another “smallest”…

753,600

…the NHL’s new smallest population to have an NHL franchise (as of 2010, source). The population (753,600), which includes the area around the city referred to as the City’s Metropolitan Area, is much smaller than the next smallest NHL city.  Even Edmonton’s population is larger at 1,102,401 inhabitants in the City’s Metropolitan Area (as of 2008, source). There are several other teams that are small; Ottawa, Buffalo, Calgary and Columbus, for example.

This fact shouldn’t be the most important, however. In the New York area alone there are four teams, the New York Islanders/Rangers, the Buffalo Sabres and the New Jersey Devils. Even though the population of the area is much larger, these teams fight for fans on a daily basis and all continue operations. The number that should worry the nay-sayers more is…

52,000

…the average disposable income of those in Winnipeg (source). Although this is not much smaller than the average disposable income of Canadian citizens ($56,000), it is much smaller than the city of Edmonton at $66,000.  These numbers matter when you factor in…

39 & 129

…the ticket prices for the team. Winnipeg’s lowest ticket price is $39 whereas the highest ticket price is $129 with the average being $82.  Even when taking the team’s private boxes into consideration, the revenues of this franchise will be much lower than some other NHL franchises. Although TSN believes that the team will operate at a mid-range salary cap, the team will only survive with…

13,000

…season ticket holders. This is the very important benchmark that the team is trying to obtain before the meeting with the NHL Board of Governors of June 21. You can see the progress by visiting Driveto13.com. Sales to the general public begin on June 4th at 12pm.

The number that I hope everyone does remember amid the flurry of happy cheers is the number two. This is the amount of times that the City of Atlanta has lost an NHL Franchise. First in 1980, when the Atlanta Flames moved to the city of Calgary and now in 2011 with the departure of the Thrashers. Although, as a Canadian, I am pleased that there is now a seventh Canadian NHL Team, my heart goes out to every Atlanta father that has to explain to his young son that his favourite team isn’t coming back. Well, to Atlanta at least…

I just hope everyone keeps the reason the Jets left Winnipeg 15 years ago in mind; it wasn't viable. We can only hope the situation has changed, but the low average income and small population base are hard factors to overcome in the long run, once the enthusiasm has worn off.
 
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