It had to be painful enough for NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to say he was happy to be back in Winnipeg on Tuesday. But now that the city of Winnipeg met his ""This thing isn't going to work very well if this building isn't sold out every night," ultimatum, do you think we'll get an "I was wrong" statement out of him? No, me neither.
True North Sports and Entertainment was well on their way to the target mark of 13,000 seats by Friday night (7,100 tickets in three days), after Manitoba Moose season ticket holders got first crack. Seventeen minutes into the public sale on Saturday, the target number was reached.
With the MTS arena holding just 15,000 seats and ticket sales still under way, it appears safe to say that attendance in the Peg for the 2011-12 season will not be a problem.
True North has also capped the waiting list on season tickets for the 2012-13 season, at 8,000.
The franchise and league can then fill their pockets with revenues from all the new merchandising they will sell, once a new name is established.
Given that True North was seeking a three to five year commitment from season ticket holders, and will certainly have above average revenues, it won't take long for the franchise to get their fingers on a full share of the league's revenue sharing plan. That of course is based on the current Collective Barganing Agreement (CBA), that expires at the end of the 2011-12 season.
Whatever the new franchise name is, Keith Tkachuk, who played for the Winnipeg Jets for five seasons before their move to Phoenix, will be one of the new season ticket holders. "My wife was ordering tickets today," Tkachuk said during a public autograph signing in Toronto on Saturday. "I think it's great. I'm really excited that hockey will be back in Winnipeg."
Although it's doubtful that the name "Jets" will be made available to the new franchise, there's no argument that they will call on former greats Winnipeg such as Tkachuk, Bobby Hull, Dale Hawerchuk, etc. in some form over the seasons ahead to promote the team, much like the Baltimore Ravens have done with former Baltimore Colts greats.
In the meantime, it looks like the MTS's former tenants will now be relocate to St. John's, Newfoundland, once the NHL Board of Governor's approves the Atlanta-Winnipeg move later this month.
The AHL's Manitoba Moose would move and play at Mile One Stadium. In a CBC report, the City of St. John's, who owns the building, will merely be a landlord, while former Premier Dany Williams will operate the club.
This will be the second AHL team to attempt set up shop in Newfoundland. Despite satisfactory attendance, the St. John's Maple Leafs moved to Toronto in 2006, as a logistic operating tactic, once the Ricoh Coliseum was available.