March 1, 2006
It’s time Winnipeg! It’s time we became
a contending North American city again. Remember how
it was? The “White-Outs”, the noise, the goosebumps,
Los Angeles vs. Winnipeg? Remember when we rivaled Vancouver?
We couldn’t stand them! Now we cheer them on and house
their farm team. What happened? At what point did we
accept being a little-league town?
For three years this site has been dedicated to returning
an NHL franchise to Winnipeg and creating the vision
to do so. The vision that Winnipeg can be put back on
the map and enjoy a vibrant downtown. It set out to
find an owner who wants to put hockey where it belongs
and where no marketing is required to create hockey
fans but rather where there already exists die-hard,
born-and-raised hockey fans. Hundreds of thousands of
them! This idea seemed laughable only three years ago,
but since then, the three key ingredients that this
campaign originally laid out have all fallen into place.
The new MTS Centre is now completed and has the ability
to be the loudest, most intimate building in the NHL
and sell-out every night! But only with top caliber
hockey. As predicted, the NHL fell into disarray in
September 2004, opening the door to the likelihood that
salaries would come under more control once the dust
settled and a new Collective Bargaining Agreement was
finally reached. With a new economic landscape and an
NHL caliber arena built, all that was left to tackle
was a buyer and a seller. This campaign has full confidence
that our financially-abled individuals will step up
if all conditions "make sense" to relocate
a franchise to our hockey-crazed city.
Here are the 3 KEYS that have made it possible
to witness a re-birth of the NHL
MTS Centre has now been open for over a year
and has been one the world's busiest venues for 15 straight
months. It's location and capacity have been debated
endlessly since the groundbreaking in early 2003. Luckily
they don't have any bearing on the building's suitablity
for the NHL. The questions of size restrictions in the
new building need to be put to rest. The myth that arenas
need to be 18,000-20,000 seats now-a-days is best proven
in a dozen buildings across the league that remain 1/3
empty on most evenings, some even half empty. Not only
are these buildings unnecessary but they are also unrealistic
to fill on most evenings. For our market, MTSC is ideal.
At 15,100 seats, MTSC can sellout consistantly and have
a lower operation cost than any building in the NHL.
It can also create the all-important supply and demand
aspect of marketing. What better mentality than to have
it be actually difficult to get a ticket to a Jets game!
It is crucial to create that excitement and desire to
want to get to the box office early to be part of
the noise and intimacy the MTS Centre will provide.
Walk-ups just before game time shouldn't exist. In fact,
a majority of NHL teams don't need the huge buildings
they are in. The NBA creates the need for the size these
buildings are. Many American markets have numerous sports
that utilize their arena. Winnipeg would have one key
sport in MTSC. We would also be able to generate all
of the revenue that Winnipeg Enterpises Corp. swallowed
up in the past. There will also be new revenue opportunities
that didn't exist before as well as revenue from concerts
and non-hockey events to off-set any losses that may
or may not result in running an NHL team. Owning a team
and the building it plays in has many perks.
has been documented that owners in the NHL wish they
actually had smaller arenas! The NHL has given the thumbs-up
to MTSC in all aspects. After all, it is no longer about
how many seats you have in your building as much as
it is about how much you can get for each seat in it.
A ticket will cost more than the Jets of old, but what
doesn't cost more today? Fuel is double the price than
it was in 1996. So are concerts. So is airfare. And
on and on. Also remember that an arena is a glorified
hockey rink. You see, an arena doesn’t need a million
square feet of office space and room for an amusement
park! We are Winnipeggers. We buy hockey free of gimmicks,
at full price and we actually attend the game. In short,
MTS Centre is just right for Winnipeg and arguably the
most ideal size for NHL hockey. Just ask, Florida, Nashville,
Carolina, Phoenix, New Jersey, Atlanta and the Islanders.
Their fans couldn't fill MTSC's lower bowl on some evenings
and couldn't fill our entire arena on most nights. And
how many of them actually paid for their tickets? On
a final note, the cities mentioned above are all, quote
"larger markets". Are they?
The CBA Turned Out
By turned out I don't mean just for cities like Winnipeg
but for every city in the current NHL. It simply couldn't
go on the way it was. It couldn't sustain the costs
that were being incurred through player salaries and
the lack of revenues from poor attendence and no significant
television contract. Businesses don’t often survive
by losing more and more money every year while paying
their employees more and more salary. That’s what was
going on in the NHL until 2005. A league like the NFL
sees every single one of it’s teams profit each year
and salaries paid for by TV revenues alone. They can
justify it. The NHL will never achieve the level of
success that the NFL has due to the simple fact that
the NHL will never acquire a television contract that
will provide the windfall of income that football enjoys.
A very different NHL is now upon us. It is
an NHL that has created a "level playing field"
for all teams that are putting together their championship
salary cap now limits those irresponsible teams from
spending insane amounts of money, sometimes triple what
was average, just to win. It is now understood that
league parity is an important factor for a competitive
and exciting league. Revenue sharing also allows those
teams with smart front offices to recieve financial
help if, despite spending adequate money each year,
they still report a loss. The new CBA also links league
revenues to players salaries. This now puts Winnipeg
in a favourable category in the players minds. As they
play in half-empty arenas in a dozen current NHL markets
they now view Winnipeg as an ideal choice to relocate.
This is because they realize that Winnipeg can generate
more revenue than many teams because we buy hockey at
full price and actually show up at the games. More fans
in the stands equals more league revenue. More league
revenue equals a bigger salary pie, which in turn, gives
the players a larger slice of that pie. It is clear
the NHL will be a gate-driven league, whereby the key
revenue generator will be ticket sales, not television.
The American TV dream is gone, for now, and the sunbelt
"experiment" has failed. It has become clear
that returning to where the sport is loved unconditionally
Afterall, that's part of the URL of this website! It
shouldn't surprise anyone that current owners in failing
US markets have Winnipeg on their radar as a home for
their troubled franchise. And don't be fooled by NHL
propaganda, there are many teams doing horribly. And
why not put a hockey team in an existing hockey
market instead of trying to market a hockey
team in a hopeless American “large market” that has
far more interest in the NBA, MLB, NFL, NASCAR and numerous
college sports. They always will. Raw population really
has little to do with a successful NHL franchise and
I think Winnipeggers are getting tired of being referred
to as a “small market”. If
there are 300,000 die-hard, paying hockey fans in Winnipeg,
a city of 700,000 and only 20,000 casual paying hockey
fans in Atlanta, a city of 4,000,000, who has the larger
market now? Per-capita hockey fans is really the statistic
the NHL and its owners need to look at. They also need
to realize that we have a brand new building ready to
move into...NHL ready. With economics that make sense
and this abundance of true hockey fans, it is clear
a team can thrive here. The corporate support is here,
the fan support is here and the buyers will be ready.
There is little doubt there is the will in Winnipeg
to give an existing NHL team a new home where they can
be front page news and top priority.
Cleaning out the lockers for the last time.
The Guys and Me having a cold one the day after
the final buzzer. Age 19. Were we really smiling?