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2006 Archive

December 26, 2006
Which NHL Brass Believes The Mass?

"Our preferred market is Pittsburgh," says NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly.

Beyond that, there are no preferred markets even as cities like Houston, Oklahoma City, Kansas City and Portland, Ore., have their names thrown about, but Daly did allow that "a Canadian market would be a possibility," raising hope that Winnipeg or even Hamilton might get drawn into the lottery to woo Lemieux, who will soon be free move his team where he pleases. (Kevin McGran, guelphmercury.com sports)

Clearly the NHL is showing signs of dual personality. As mentioned earlier, Bill Daly gives Winnipeg the best shot at true support from 6th Avenue in New York City. While they seem to want to do everyting possible to keep the Pens in Pittsburgh (which, by the way, I commend) there doesn't seem to be the anti-Canadian element to NHL thinking, so long as Bill Daly takes the mic. My initial thoughts, which were so quick to land in the pages of the Edmonton Journal via a negative spin by Dan Barnes, were that the Pens deal was being tapered to make it nearly impossible for a potential new owner to bite on the final purchase of the club because of all of the provisions that were being forced on the buyer. That still seems to ring true. However, after the comments by Bill Daly stated above, one wonders what the true agenda of the NHL is.

Do they want yet another large American market that can't gaurantee support for the game long term and as a result will likely fail in four years? Or do they want a hockey hotbed that loves the game unconditionally and as a result will support the game at full prices for the long haul?

Do they want a city that puts NFL, MLB, NBA, NCAA and NASCAR far ahead of hockey and expect to still sell 19,000 seats to a hockey game every night? Or do they want a city that would place the NHL first above all other sports and therefore easily sellout it's brand new 15,000+ seat arena every night?

Time will tell. Luckily Winnipeg doesn't necessarily have to prey on the Pens situation, although having that squad of talent would be a blessing for this city and assure an on-ice product that would rival the best in the league. There are other teams that, despite the recent CBA ajustment and game changes, are bleeding red ink. Teams that you might find in line at Money Mart soon for a payday loan are the Nashville Predators, the Florida Panthers and the Phoenix Coyotes. St. Louis, Atlanta and Carolina are others that are hinting to be a wait-and-see situation.

We know the Pens are a great fit for Winnipeg. Any hockey team is. The rest of North America knows it too. After viewing nearly a dozen polls regarding where a team should relocate to this week from all corners of the industry, the clear-cut winner was always Winnipeg! Usually 6-8 cities are included in the poll and Winnipeg comes out with an average of 35% to 55% of the votes while other cities tally in at 3% to 8% each. That is an overwhelming victory for our city from people who don't even live here. Polls were found in The Hockey News, ESPN.com, CBC.ca, The Minnesota Wild website and most recently the New York Rangers website ....you name it and Winnipeg was the people's choice.

If so many of us "get it", wht doesn't the NHL? Maybe Bill Daly does get it. Maybe he realizes that a 7th franchise in Canada can only help the game. There is nothing wrong with trying to make the game stronger in the US. That I don't contend. It the extent to which they are trying that I ponder. It is the places they are putting teams, the TV networks they are targeting and the prices they are charging for an American bottom tier sport that baffles me. Out of 30 teams (T-H-I-R-T-Y) there are only 6 Canadian team logos. There used to be 7 out of 21 (with Winnipeg and Quebec City) and later 8 out of 24 (add Ottawa). With that ratio there should be 10 out of 30. We have 6 (S-I-X). It is not possible, and there is ample proof, that 24 American markets can all sustain NHL hockey at the prices it demands, in the climate they reside in and in the sports market share they are left with after all other more popular sports have gobbled up people's disposable income.

I vote Winnipeg and Hamilton. But be clear....I vote Winnipeg first. Apparently so do many, many others. Including those who live in a country with 24 NHL teams.

December 20, 2006
NHL Agenda Clear: Anywhere But Canada

I am about to embark on possibly the most frustrating posting I've ever written. While there isn't necessarily any bad news for Winnipeg out of this whole Pittsburgh ordeal, there remains some very frightening observations.

You have to wonder why the banner doesn't read "Anywhere in Canada". It should, but it doesn't.

With the recent developments out of Pittsburgh it has become clear that the NHL will do everything in its power to retain US franchises or, at the very least, steer them towards other US markets for relocation. Can anyone blame Jim Balsillie for backing out of the Pens deal once he learned the NHL had slipped in last minute provisions that would make him adhere to Plans B, C and D, or however many other small printing they had in mind to keep the team in the Steel City? It seems Mr. Balsillie knew what he was doing all along. That was to back out once it became clear that the Isle Of Capri gaming license would be rejected so he could re-offer a low-ball figure for the Pens being that there is now no free arena thrown into the mix. Smart.

And indeed good for the perceived values of these NHL clubs to come back down to earth. The Pens without an arena are knowhere near worth $175 million. The All-Star team isn't worth that much. With no one watching in the United States, in the seats or on TV, how can it be worth that much?

Gary Bettman has single-handedly destroyed a fat cheque for Mario Lemieux, for the second time, by putting these last minute clauses in that would require a new owner to virtually keep the Pens in Pittsburgh even if the city blew up. Was the intention to ruin the deal? No. The intention was quite simply to assure that this team wouldn't end up in Kitchener-Waterloo or Winnipeg for that matter because those locations have a postal code and not a zip code. The NHL cringes at the thought of the Atlanta Thrashers having to play the K-W Kodiaks or the Winnipeg Jets, destroying the ageless struggle to make people love hockey in non-traditional markets. Nevermind that we have rabid fans, no other sport to compete with hockey's market share and sold-out buildings night after night. We just aren't in the US where many buildings remain at least half empty, the sport is considered niche and there are half a dozen sports or more that eat into the sports market share leaving hockey somewhere between Ultimate Fighting Challenge and the Senior's Bowling Tour.

What I want to know, as rhetorical as it may be, is where this kind of clause was for Winnipeg? Where was the NHL saying that any new owner in 1995 would have to keep the team in Winnipeg should a new arena be constructed? And remember, all three levels of government came together on a 16,800 seat building at The Forks. Oh, I forgot, The Forks address has a postal code not a zip code.

This country, and especially Winnipeg, should be outraged at the amount of backing the NHL is giving an American city and how clearly it is sending the message that it wants to continue this hopeless dream of making hockey thrive down south. I am happy for the fans in Pittsburgh. They must be, or better be, ecstatic that the NHL is protecting their interests so extensively. Good for them.

Luckily I beleive we won't have to endure Gary Bettman at the helm much longer. I strongly believe that Bill Daly will take over as The Commish and he has a better understanding of the importance of a strong presense in Canada.

I hope you all enjoy the new feature on JetsOwner.com called "Got Fans?". It aims to post the top 5 worst attendances each week in the NHL and show the world what is really going on. It also reveals the fact that it is even worse than reported being that the figures shown reflect the number of "tickets distributed" and not people in the seats. The Manitoba Moose should launch 6,000 tickets off the roof of the CanWest Global Building each gameday and declare that they draw 15,000 to each game. Afterall, the tickets would be distributed, right?

And take note of one thing.....every figure that will ever appear in that top 5 worst list will always represent a building with a zip code.....not a postal code.

December 13, 2006
Howard Bloom: Real State of the League Address

SportsBusinessNews.com leader Howard Bloom, who recently cited Winnipeg as the No. 1 place for hockey to relocate to, more recently had this to say in his blog. (note: the link is from this website's chat board because there are figures inlcuded with the article....thanks "canadian99")

Also, keep an eye out for a new feature on JetsOwner.com. I think you will all love it. It should be up and running by this weekend.

Be sure to check out the campaign e-Store for the perfect gift idea for a supporter on your Christmas list!

December 9, 2006
Force Feed This

Just some "posted" attendance figures from this past week alone:

Leafs at Bruins 13,407 (original six rivalry!)
Canadiens at Islanders - 9,551
Coyotes at Blackhawks - 9,078
Senators at Capitals - 10,926
Canadiens at Devils - 10,986
Senators at Islanders - 8,741
Panthers at Penguins - 12,511
Predators at Coyotes - 11,735
Predators at Blues - 5,410 (not a typo!)

For the 63rd time...how exactly is MTS Centre too small?!? And they plan to raise the salary cap?! Based on what?

The six Canadian teams? Because there's no way it can be based on league revenue. Things have gotten worse...way worse.

No more excuses that baseball teams are in the playoffs or football is starting. None of those excuses hold ground anyway becuase, even if true, it only goes to prove that there isn't room for hockey in a city's sports market. If there isn't enough people to fill an arena for hockey despite what else is going on, then the city can't sustain NHL hockey. Again, this is where Winnipeg looks so good. There aren't any other sports that would compete with hockey at any time of the year. Hockey wouldn't be #5 or #7 or even #2 for that matter. It would always be #1. So even though we only have 700,000 people (e-hem Al Strachan), we all put hockey first. The sport hockey would have 700,000 people to draw from in Winnipeg. After the NFL, MLB, NBA, NASCAR, NCAA and making moonshine in the bathtub, how many people are left in Atlanta for hockey to draw from? Okay, that moonshine comment was cheap, but hey, we have to listen to false stereotypes about our city all the time.

If you refer back to the list above (which again is just a sample of the past 8 days or so) you'll realize that you could switch the word "Senators" with the word "Admirals" and then replace the word "Islanders" with the word "Moose" and the attendance figure would...well it would just stay the same.

It's not like I'm picking on one team to make a point. Of the nine games listed above, there are eight buildings represented. They are random evenings, not just Mondays I'm picking out (which isn't an excuse anyway).

Why do arenas need to be 19,000 seats unless they are in large Canadian cities? Mostly due to the NBA. Otherwise there really is no point in having this many seats for NHL hockey. Ask 80% of American team owners.

15,200 paid seats every game in a loud and intimate setting, 60 luxury suites sold out and no other sport that significantly taps into hockey's marketplace. That's called a perect place for a team. That's called Winnipeg.

Sorry Al Strachan, I beg to differ that the NHL Board of Governors would not want Winnipeg in the league. It doesn't matter who comes to town in these brutal current hockey markets, they couldn't draw fans if there was a $20 bill taped to each seat. And if you think it's Canadian teams that deter people from going to hockey games down south, then consider yourself just as lost as that brilliant plan to grow hockey in all corners of the United States.

Do you honestly think that the fans will miraculously come out to the rink in Miami because Kansas City is coming to town? I'm tired of being force fed loads of crap. Everyone is.

November 11, 2006
Winnipeg A Small Market?

Really?

You could have fooled me. That's because the numbers in the NHL don't lie. Or actually they do, but the truth only gets worse.

Despite whatever spin the NHL wants to put on it, the fact remains that attendances are horrific in many cities in the NHL, and that includes places that you'd least expect. Large markets (I will use that term loosely throughout) like Chicago, St. Louis, New Jersey, New York and Boston that are traditionally healthy hockey havens are posting embarrassing attendance figures. Southern cities like Phoenix, Nashville and Miami are also reporting brutal numbers. Tampa Bay and Carolina, riding their recent Stanley Cup hype, are posting 20,000-range attendances, but who's to say if this is an accurate portrayal. Not likely.

All of this begs to ask one of my favourite questions: How exactly is Winnipeg considered a small hockey market? Assume MTS Centre could put 15,500 people in the building with minor modifications (one extra row, 12 more suites etc). Now take a look at these attendance figures down south and ask yourself where a hockey team would have a better chance. In Winnipeg at MTS Centre? Or in some 21,000 seat building in Missouri or Arizona or Florida? Even if tickets are paid for and not used, those empty seats can't scream loud. They also can't buy popcorn, nachos or beer. They don't buy game programs, a souveneir or hail a cab. They don't hit the local pub after the game and therefore they don't put a penny into the team or economy surrounding the arena.

Want to find out where the NHL ranks among the likes of the NFL, MLB, NBA, NASCAR and college sports? Look no further.

- Chicago drew a whopping 8,008 for a game against Nashville on October 12th. I think the Moose draw more.

- St. Louis has already had five home games in 4-digit numbers, to be exact; 8,531, 8,629, 9,049, 9,467, and 9,631. Their arena holds nearly 20,000 people for hockey. Looks like they might want to look into borrowing that curtain that MTS Centre uses to close-off the upper bowl. Editor's Update: Quote from a Nov. 13 SLAM Sports article: "After four announced crowds of less than 10,000 at the Scottrade Centre, there were fewer than 5,000 yesterday. A team that made the playoffs 25 years in a row - a major league record in North America - can't draw flies anymore."

- You'd never know New Jersey (8,269 on Novemeber 2nd) and the New York Islanders (9,431 on October 16th) are in the heart of a metropolitan population base of over 20 million people.

- Nashville, Atlanta, Florida, Anaheim, Boston, Phoenix, Chicago, Washington, New Jersey, St. Louis and NYI are all averaging less fans (or faux fans) than MTS Centre holds. That's 11 teams that can't pull in as many fans as we can fit into our new building. And they are in...here goes again..."larger markets". Many of them are doing exceptionally well on the ice too.

If our arena is too small than what is the use for the size of their buildings? I'll tell you what the use is. It's called concerts, NBA basketball and anything but the NHL. Even with the population base these cties have, they can't, or don't want to , stretch their sports dollar far enough to include hockey. There are too many other options that are more appealing. Not in Winnipeg. Hockey would be it. First and foremost. Front and centre.

Check out this great take on where the NHL has gone wrong. An interesting perspective from an American writer. The league is well aware of what is going on so I don't understand how they think sugar-coating it will fool anyone.

Winnipeg needs the NHL. The NHL needs Winnipeg.

We have the ability to draw from numerous revenue sources and draw full ticket value for each and every seat.

Attendances are 100% capacity in all Canadian markets. We are the ones bringing the overall average up. Sure there are good American hockey cities, just not 24 of them. Not by a long shot.

October 6, 2006
Pens Sold to Canadian, Eh

It's official. The Pittsburgh Penguins are under new ownership, and a Canadian no less. What does this all mean for Winnipeg? It's hard to say just yet, especially since it is not known whether or not Pittsburgh will be able to secure a new arena for the franchise or not. Should they build a new facility for the Pens they will stay put anyway.

But if a new arena fails to get built and the lease with Mellon Arena expires come next June, there is freedom to move the franchise elsewhere. Being that the new owner is a Canadian (Jim Balsillie of BlackBerry fame), it certainly can't hurt the chances of the possibility that a franchise move might be north. But where north exactly?

Hamilton? Toronto area? Winnipeg?

On our side, we have a brand new arena, ready to move into, which eliminates the cost for Mr. Balsillie to construct one which could easily run upwards of $225 million. Also avoided in Winnipeg is the costly mandatory territory infringement fee that would be owed to the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs, thought to be at least $75 million. That means that a move to Winnipeg saves the new owner $300 million in costs on top of the $175 million he has already paid for the team up front.

Even if Copps Coliseum were used to ice an NHL team, it would require incredible amounts of upgrades that would only become outdated in a short period of time anyway, much like the facility is now. For example, Copps boasts just a single concourse to service all 17,000+ seats and has few private boxes which, at best, are sub-par in today's standards. A new arena would need to be constructed. Obviously a man with as deep pockets as Mr. Balsillie has could afford to build a rink and pay off the Sabres and Leafs, but the point is he wouldn't need to. I suppose on the bright side, if he did it might spell the end to the Sabres in Buffalo and they would be next on our radar.

Though maybe a tad too optimistic, you can't help but feel that this situation is ideal for Winnipeg's chances of eventually luring the Pens here. Here is why. It has been made relatively clear that a price tag of $175 million is too steep for any group in Winnipeg to front, or at least be willing to. Understandable if not unfortunate seeing as the Pens were worth $100 million less than that only two short years ago. But where it gets ideal is a scenario where we can provide a new building to move into in a day's notice and give the team the best shot a turning a profit and being successful, most importantly because we are in a hockey market and could sell-out 15,000 seats regularly. In essence, we would split equities with the new ownership. They have the team, we have the house. An example scenario might work like this.

The True North limited partners (plus any addional investment) could purchase 25% of the franchise while leaving a majority 75% share with existing Pens ownership. In turn, the Pens ownership buys into MTS Centre for 25%, leaving 75% with True North. Meaning the two sides virtually exchange a portion of the value in their respective assets but maintain majority ownership of each. They become equity partners in achieving the same goal...icing a winning hockey team and creating the largest potential bottom line. Together they hire top front office hockey people to run the new NHL team while watching MTS Centre genrate ample money from concerts and several other sources. Sounds good to me and it really isn't that impossible.

What does sound impossible is sustaining a pro hockey team in Kansas City year after year. Or putting a team in Waterloo, Ontario. If we judge by various polls scattered throughout cyberspace over the past two days, Winnipeg is the overwhelming majority leader when it comes to being asked where the Pens should move to if they can't stay put in Pittsburgh. All polls show landslide figures where Winnipeg leads with over 50% of votes, while cities like Hamilton, Quebec City, Kansas City and Houston register numbers between 8%-11%.


And does everybody close to this debate seem to forget a very telling set of events in the recent past? Winnipeg sold-out (and turned hundreds away) a meaningless exhibition game between two teams that weren't dressing half their stars at ticket prices upwards of $119 each. Hamilton, the city that only 11% of web browsers feel should get a team, got roughly 7,700 people out to their exhibition game a week later, turning nobody away. Am I missing something here or does Winnipeg shine with bright colours when compared to the desire Hamilton shows to gain an NHL franchise. Oh, and Hamilton is surrounded by a marketplace of over 4 million people. This should be brought up repeatedly in the media. REPEATEDLY! Yet some personalities (shame on you Darren Dreger, TSN) insist on throwing out the same old "Winnipeg can't afford it and can't spend $100 per ticket and doesn't have the corporate support" comment, despite the fact that these pre-conceptions and reputations have been proven false and thrown out the door long ago. Nice to see "sports" people paying attention to the facts.

Oh, well...there's always Florida, Nashville, Atlanta, Carolina and Phoenix to prey on should the Pens move to Thunder Bay.

September 19, 2006
Great Media Exposure

Beyond the multiple kudos to our city and new arena from the likes of Wayne Gretzky and Jeremy Roenick, there were many hot discussions about the return of the NHL on various media outlets. Thanks to the Winnipeg Sun for running a feature on the flyering of MTSC on Sunday night, TSN Off The Record for showing footage of the flyering, Global Edmonton and Global Winnipeg for doing a feature, CBC Radio Winnipeg for hosting a call-in show and The Fan Radio in Calgary for spending some time with me as well. To those that I couldn't get back to in time, I apologize. It has been a very busy few days.

CJOB had Mark Chipman on for approximately ten minutes yesterday morning. Check out their Audio Vault and scroll to "Sept 18 - 9am", then forward to the 9:10 mark.

Also interviewing Chipman was the Winnipeg Free Press. The reason I refer to these links is that both discussions reveal in detail just what is going on. It should clear up some things for those of you that aren't certain where things stand or choose not to buy into what I have been saying (which, by the way is understandable). We must keep level heads on this issue but push the idea consistently on everyone.

Once again, thanks to all those who helped with the massive operation on Sunday night. Getting 11,000 of those flyers out was an incredible achievement. The digital version of the flyer is available for download by clicking here.

Speaking of the website, in just the past 48 hours it has received over 8500 hits, most of which are likely first time visitors. Media coverage always boosts the numbers but it's the flyers have had the largest affect. There's always more room on the bandwagon!

On a side note, the Winnipeg Sun was trying their best to get a quote out of me that would state that I intend to run for mayor thanks to a certain sign that was held up high at the game Sunday night! As funny as it was...thanks but no thanks!

September 18, 2006
NHL Game Huge Success!

Thanks to the dedicated efforts by 22 campaign supporters, it is estimated that roughly 11,000 flyers got into the hands of hockey fans last night at a sold out MTS Centre. Job well done! The response was overwhelmingly positive and I am happy to report that I did not pick up one single flyer off the floor or sidewalk, meaning most flyers likely ended up in people's pockets. People seemed eager to read the content of the flyer which was aimed at informing about what tickets price levels would look like for NHL hockey for several different ticket packages. It also included positive quotes from key people in the hockey world regarding the NHL's return to Winnipeg, as accumulated over the past two years. In short, the flyer went off extremely well and I believe the design and content was enjoyed by many.

Volunteers carried out the operation with respect and courtesy, once again showing that this campaign is first class and nothing less. Thanks to all of you who helped out and thanks to the many of you who gave such favourable feedback to myself and others throughout the entire evening. It was well received.

As for the events of the day, it started in the morning for me. I found myself standing right next to Wayne Gretzky in the locker room during a media scrum and also included sightings of Kevin Lowe, Curt Keilback and Shane Doan. There was an overload of positive feedback about MTS Centre, the city of Winnipeg and the NHL returning in general. The vibe was superb early on in the day.

When it became time to hand the flyers out the vibe had hit the streets. People from all directions were converging on MTS Centre clad in Jets gear as if the team were still here and it was a regular season game. Seeing that many people pouring in from all angles was incredible. It really showed what the downtown could feel like if this were 42 nights a year and it was our own team we were following. People gladly accepted the handouts and immediately began reading. Instantly people began selecting and discussing where their affordability range was for tickets, like they were actually chossing a package to buy. It was exactly what the purpose was. To get people to talk about it again and be informed of just what they would expect to pay for various seats to NHL hockey. When 7:00 rolled around, there wasn't a wasted flyer to be seen. The floors were clean and game ready to begin.

The first two periods were relatively calm but the energy was clearly there. Everywhere you looked there were the colours red, white and blue and various signs being held up. By the 3rd period, twenty rounds of the wave were going around and around along with loud chants of 'Go Jets Go!' The buzz was back and for one night we got a taste of what it could be like again. And imagine if it were actually our team playing on the ice! What then? Insanity, that's what.

All in all it was a very telling night. Upwards of a thousand people were turned away if not more, clearly showing that demand was very high, even at high ticket prices mostly between $79 and $119, to see a meaningless exhibition game between two teams that aren't even ours. In fact one an arch-rival and the other the team that was ripped away from us 11 years ago. It spoke volumes about the hunger level in this city for NHL hockey.

Besure to browse through all media outlets today to read through what was said by various hockey people and journalists. There wasn't a negative thing mentioned. Not one. Nice for a change. Once again, it takes Wayne Gretzky's comments to wake people up in this city. Whatever it takes...we have known it all along.

Tick Tock. Tick Tock.

(Pictures coming soon)

September 14, 2006
All Set For Sunday!

For those of you who made it down to Tavern this evening...thanks for coming! To those of you who couldn't make it...you're fired...just kidding! Below are some key notes about Sunday for you to follow.

Click to download PDF version

1) Everyone is to meet in the parking lot across from Tavern United (Graham St.) at 5:00pm sharp on Sunday. I will have all of the flyers to divide amongst you.

2) At that point, you will be off to your designated door post that have been assigned. There are 4 sets of street level doors and 3 sets of skywalk doors to man. I have the map to show you once you have met with the clan at the Tavern parking lot.

3) Should it rain we'll have no choice but to step just inside the doors to hand the flyers out. Obviously this does not pertain to skywalk volunteers as they will be indoors regardless.

4) There will be no talking back to anyone who gives lip. This likely won't even occur because this is the exact target audience that wants the NHL in the first place. But should you get flack, simply ignore it or tell them to enjoy the game. Better to keep handing out flyers than to miss a dozen people while arguing with an idiot. Once again, this falls under the "be the bigger person" category. True North are aware of what we are doing and have given permission for this handout to occur. It marks the first time the building managment have ever allowed such an activity, so carry yourself with maturity and respect.

But most of all...have fun!! Remember, we're promoting the cause and making sure that nobody forgets what Winnipeg wants and what Winnipeg needs! Remember to wear your Jets gear or campaign shirt. Some campaign shirts will be there shoud you decide you want to pick one up.

Also be sure to bring catchy signs! I will be going around taking pictures of the best signs to include on the site.

August 25, 2006
Plans Falling Into Place For Oilers-Coyotes Game

Things are rolling along as planned for the big blitz handout before the NHL Exhibition game come September 17th at MTS Centre. For those of you who offered their help, thank you. There will be a meeting of sorts on Thursday, September 14th at Tavern United Powerhouse at 7:00pm. I say "of sorts" because there is nothing intense about this meeting. It is more about getting everyone on the same page and assigning them certain doors of the arena to work outside of. It is also about making sure everyone understands some ground rules about conduct. We must continue to hold this camapign's name with the highest regard not only for our own credibility but for the reputation of our key sponsor to this event, Trackitback. To find out more about this up-and-coming Winnipeg company visit their website.

Though so many of you e-mailed me regarding Michael Farber's column in Sports Illustrated, I seemed to have missed that there was a poll included with that online version. The article has the writer imagine he was NHL commissioner for a day. His #1 task? To put a team back in Winnipeg. In fact Winnipeg is running away with the poll results by a margin of over 40%. Check out Farber's article and be sure to participate in the poll to count your vote.

The "Rants" section and "Notable Quotes" will be updated shortly. Thanks for your patience. Please don't forget to send in your photo of your campaign t-shirt somewhere on earth to add to our "Wear in the World" section. And if you don't have a shirt yet...get one!! It makes doing these PR stunts that much easier to pay for. All proceeds from t-shirts sales thus far were used to cover some of the costs of this upcoming event. Ten thousand glossy, colour, full page sheets aren't cheap! Looking forward to seeing many of you help pass them out.

August 2, 2006
Last Call for NHL Exhibition Game Help

Big plans are in store for NHL exhibition game night on Sunday, September 17th at MTS Centre. The Return of the Jets Campaign intends to hand-out 10,000 glossy flyers to people entering the game that night. Although we already have great volunteers on board, we will need a few more helping hands to properly distribute the full-page colour flyers. If you have already offered your services, I will contact you shortly regarding the game plan. We will likely meet the week before to discuss simple details. Please feel free to contact me if you are seriously interested in joining these others in helping out. All that is required is an hour of solid, mature help. No talking back to disbelievers. No showing up late or quitting early. Just level-headed dedication for an hour. Maybe an hour and a half.

Stay tuned for more info and for reaction to the sale of the Penguins once it becomes official and concrete details are released. There is both good and bad news for Winnipeg in that deal. We just have to prepare ourselves to look like gold in front of the NHL and North America as a whole on September 17th.

June 1, 2006
Happy 3rd Anniversary!

Yes, JetsOwner.com is three years old today. Not much more to add to the last post, however, be sure to put aside some money for that NHL exhibition game coming to MTSC this fall. We NEED to sell the building out. Although selling out one single exhibition game is not indicative of what kind of hockey city we are, it will still make a statement. I appreciate all of the help that has been offered so far, but for the many of you who don't frequent the "Campaign Chat" forum, please feel free to contact me if you are seriously interested in helping hand something out that night outside of MTSC. I will need 14 volunteers in total. Only mature individuals whom I feel will reflect the campaign in a positive and constructive manner will be chosen.

May 29, 2006
Oilers Success Proves Front Office More Important Than Size Of Wallet

For those of you who have forgotten, June 1st will mark this website's 3rd anniversary. Time does fly. Though I'd certainly love to have our ultimate goal accomplished by now, I feel we are well on our way and in the right position. There are still plenty of struggling teams down south and despite what the NHL brass wants us to believe, there are far too many empty seats in at least eight buildings in the United States and far too many discounted seats for those that are filled. There are also far too many households that don't even have the opportunity to watch NHL hockey due to the lack of a large scale network covering the league. The future of the NHL is clearly up north. Winnipeg is still the answer.

As an 80's kid, it is hard to cheer for the Oilers, they had their fill of success and some. But I must admit, just like the Flames run two years ago, it is great to see a Canadian "small market" team succeed. Why? Because Edmonton's ability to go all the way is a clear indication that, in the new NHL, a team with a $30 million payroll can win the Stanley Cup. That is a huge statement and goes to show what a smart front office can do for a franchise without maxing out their salary cap. Is it any coincidence that the Oilers, who were always contending for the cup since their existence, did nothing during the "out-of-control years" of the NHL (1994-2004), then once the CBA is rectified, they are right back in the mix. Obviously not. Achieving this level of success also allows teams to generate more revenue...well not always.

The other interesting aspect of this year's playoffs is whether a team like the Carolina Hurricanes can turn a profit even after going so deep into the post-season. If they can't, it speaks volumes about the future of sun belt franchises. Quite simply the future is bleak. Nashville couldn't even get it's corporate community to ante up for the first round of the playoffs this year, not to mention it's fans held back too. This goes to prove that corporate support in these markets is just that...showing face during the regular season. True interest would spawn playoff sell-outs. And for those of you about to argue that Nashville has a larger building and that they got as many fans out as MTS Centre can hold at full capacity I say this; first, MTS Centre seats would all be full priced tickets. Second, Nashville is double the size of Winnipeg. So why can't they fill 30,000 seats? Under the NHL's mentality that's why they chose Nashville right? Because there are 1.5 million people there? And there is where my HOCKEY FANS PER CAPITA comes into play. If people want to declare Winnipeg a small market and in the same sentence admit that Nashville (a larger market) barely gets the same amount of fans to their games then they are out to lunch. What we are looking for here are large HOCKEY markets, not merely large business markets. Under that model, teams should be in Mexico City, Sydney and Dublin. But they're not. That's because they don't buy into hockey. Winnipeg does. A much larger percentage of our 710,000 people do than the 1.5 million in Music City.

Scott Taylor recently commented that Winnipegger's only make an average of $661 per week. This is really an irrelevant statistic anyway. But hey, we're looking good! The average resident of Nashville earns $423 per week (source: city-data.com) and they have far more pro and college sports to stretch those dollars than Winnipeg does. Want more? People in Raleigh, NC earn an average of $482, Tampa $571, Phoenix only $381. Bottom line: the stat means nothing. The issue is really this: who of the people who earn more than the mean income will buy season tickets and who of the people that make less than mean income will scrape to buy single game tickets or minipacks? The answer is higher in Winnipeg for both cases.

The Manitoba Moose signed an extension for affiliation with the Vancouver Canucks last week. The 3-year deal should set off no panic buttons. It is merely business and to be honest, I am surprised it wasn't a 5-year deal like the last one was. The Canucks don't want to sign a one year agreement only to have to do it all over again a year form now. In addition, remember, the Moose can leave town just a quickly as they got here from Minnesota...overnight. Regardless, nothing to be concerned with. It is common knowledge now that Winnipeg and True North have left the door open to NHL discussions. Lets hope those discussions go very well very soon.

Stay tuned for exciting details to unfold regarding the recently announced NHL exhibition game to be played at MTSC on this fall. We have MAJOR work to do. Being that the teams are the Oilers and Coyotes, the atmosphere will be electric and very emotional. The signs will be out that night and so will we! We must sell the place out at NHL prices to make a HUGE statement to the NHL and to the rest of the province.

May 2, 2006
MSNBC Declares Chipman, True North Have Offer On Table For Pens

Yesterday, national US news service MSNBC reported that Winnipeg was officially in the running to purchase the Penguins should their plans to stay in Pittsburgh fall through. This comes at a time when Winnipeg local media are equally excited talking about potholes. If that sounded like a call to local media to get with this NHL campaign, it was!

When one ponders how Mark Chipman could afford to put forth such a deal, you have to realize that although he admittedly does not hold the capital to handle this kind of venture on his own, True North's limited partners certainly can. How a deal is structured locally (ie - MTSC operation and ownership) remains to be seen. But it is clear somebody has been convinced that the numbers work. You don't approach a National Hockey League team if you're just joking.

As for the Pens, they may just end up staying put. But that gives us the ability to put pressure on "operation pounce". As in pounce on the next team that needs a new home. And they'll be several despite what the attendence figures would have you believe.

Example: Four tickets "accounted for" in Nashville.

2 paid $36.00, 2 got free tickets. Total ticekt sales $72.00. The two that showed spent $40.00 at the game but got their nachos for free, as did anyone who walked through the gate. The two free tickets didn't show and therefore didn't buy popcorn, beer, parking or a program. Grand total revenue...$112.00.

Example: Four tickets used in Winnipeg.

2 paid $69.00. 2 paid $59.00. Total ticket sales $256.00. All four got nothing for free except a small promo-pack of Clodhoppers at the gate. They spent $96.00 in concessions and parking. Grand total...$352.00.

Oh, and they also screamed louder.

Now what's better? 16,800 faux people or 15,200 actual people.

April 28, 2006
Winnipeg Sun Runs 3-Part "Jet Lag" Report

Upon the conclusion of a CBC call-in show that I was a guest on today, I couldn't help but notice the many scribbles I had chicken scratched all over the back of one of my utility bills. They were all counter-arguments that I was ready to rebut from the insanely negative phone calls to CBC. I'm sure every downer made a phone call during the 25-minute segment whose theme was whether or not Winnipeg has survived the loss of the Jets 10 years later.

My answer...well I suppose we've survived. I can survive a blizzard too but that doesn't mean it was fun. And it certainly doesn't mean I wouldn't have preferred a sunny day.

Paul Friesen from the Winnipeg Sun was the other panel guest and to my surprise we virtually agreed on just about everything. Two callers weren't even from Winnipeg and the others were senior citizens who said the NHL is too expense. One went so far as to say that when the Jets were here he couldn't give away the third ticket he had to every game. Sounded a little phony to me (who buys three season tickets and gives one away to a third party every game?). Another said Winnipeg was not the hockey city we claim to be. Do the World Juniors ring a bell? Another claimed he's a big fan of the Moose but had only been to one game this season. Yeah, and I'm a huge Hillary Duff fan but I don't own her CDs and didn't attend either of the two concerts over the past year. Sigh.

I was called a dreamer twice, told we don't have the population and informed that downtown doesn't have the build-up to sustain an NHL team. Duh, it works the other way around! Growth stems from the franchise being the nucleus, not the other way around! Needless to say, none of these people have read through this website. I swear I nearly drove to the nearest bridge. Problem was it was the Redwood and it's under construction. Then I thought of the Charleswood bridge, but that would be too ironic because it was opened the very summer the Jets left town.

Alright, enough of the joking.

In a nutshell, the callers were older "I-hate-change-and-have-no-clue-about-the-real-facts" people. It got so bad, Paul Friesen's tone started to sound like he was on the staff of this campaign. With no time left to rebut, I signed off and went on with my day. A day that included reading Part Two of a Winnipeg Sun look at the tenth anniversary of the Jets heading to the desert. I found today's pieces rather dull and void of any real insight besides that same economist from U of M that insists there are no ties to an economic influx from a professional sports team being in town. I guess you can skew numbers any way you want to. Last time I checked, Pearl Jam created more business downtown than Billy Idol did as NHL hockey would have more impact than the AHL. In other words, more people equals more business, period.

In other news, it looks like the Pens could be staying put. That's not to say that's final, but if so, I am happy for them. I'd take 'em, don't get me wrong, but they should have their team just like we should have ours.

There are many teams under water right now but none have officially asked for a life preserver...yet. There has never been any doubt in my mind that call will come. What concerns me most is what happens when that call comes. The money is here, the interest is here, the building is here and the big players are here. The million dollar question? It's not whether we can afford it, it's not whether MTSC is big enough and it's not whether the NHL wants us back.

The unknown is how is the deal going to go down? To elaborate... how much for a team? How is MTSC to be run and who controls it? How is the debt on the building dealt with? Who is involved from outside True North's limited investment partners (a list that carries some of Manitoba's heaviest hitters)? Can these individuals work together? Quite the complex question and quite reminiscent of 1995.

We are always our own worst enemy in this city. Can that perception be broken? Time will tell. Lets hope for all of our sakes that our wealthiest citizens can all get along instead of scare away a potential drowning franchise. There would be nothing worse than seeing a dozen rich people fighting over who gets to throw the life preserver. Because during that time Kansas City could have already pulled the hysterical hockey team ashore.

March 21, 2006
Chipman, Campaign Headline Chamber Mag

The Chamber WireTrue North CEO Mark Chipman gives a candid explanation of what it will take to bring NHL hockey back to Winnipeg in the newest issue of The Chamber Wire, the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce's quarterly magazine.

Many of the figures that appear on this website are backed up via this article which is a positive outlook on the "conceivable" idea of the NHL returning to Winnipeg. The article concludes with the mention of the Return of the Jets Campaign and several quotes from myself. While it fails to mention the actual website address, it does note that this campaign has been around since the spring of 2003. Be sure to read the entire article found In The Press.

March 13, 2006
JetsOwner.com Hits 1,000,000! One Million Hits!

If you visited the site today chances are pretty good that you were this campaign's one millionth hit! That's right, since June 1, 2003 there have been over a million hits to the website and over 225,000 unique visitors (calculated as an accumulation of different visitors on a daily basis). From far and wide, the Return of the Jets Campaign has attracted people from all over the world. Some former Winnipeggers, some who have never been to Winnipeg in their life.


March 8, 2006
Free Bumper Sticker!

That's right, for a limited time when you order anything from the campaign e-store you'll receive a free "Bring 'em Back" bumper sticker! Stick them where everyone can see! Also note that a 15% discount is given to any order of two or more products. While you wait for your t-shirts to arrive in the mail, pass the time by sending a few well-written e-mails to a few of the contacts listed under Media Contacts. Spread the word of the new flashy website and online store!


March 1, 2006
Welcome to the New Website!

After 33 months, www.JetsOwner.com has finally received a make-over! I hope everybody enjoys the new design and features as well as the online store that is now operational. A few things still need to be touched up and more features will be added as time goes on, but until then, soak up the new site and be sure to spread the word of our new style!

It must be noted that all of the ideas I had for this site became a reality largely because of two individuals. Lauren Robb (site re-design) and Jason Wagner (online store) were integral parts of making this happen. A thanks also goes out to everyone who supported the old site for nearly three years and we all should look forward to this new era for the campaign. Now we push this on absolutely everyone!

Exciting things are still coming including a newsletter you can sign up for and new products to add to our e-Store. The Campaign Chat forum also has a new look to it! Be sure to check out the e-Store and order your shirts today! A free bumper sticker is included with every order for a limited time!!


February 22, 2006
March 1st: New JetsOwner.com Goes Live!!

It will be a squeeze, but the all new home of the Return of the Jets Campaign will go live on Wednesday, March 1st. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Broose Tulloch of CKUW for his generous donation of webspace for no cost for almost 3 years. Broose helped me with the basics of web design just to get this campaign off the ground back in May of 2003. Look how far we've come.

This will be the last post under the old format of JetsOwner.com. Copy and Paste the look of it for your achives. It will be interesting to look at it again down the road.

Enjoy the new site. New things will be added as always so visit often and look for coverage in the media regarding the new site and some content that is new for viewers.

With all the keys in place, we can now move into high gear.

See you on the new site!

Darren Ford
Founder


January 21, 2006
Penguins Not the Key Issue

With the announcement by Mario Lemiuex that he will look into all options for new ownership for the Penguins there was naturally a frenzy whipped-up in Winnipeg. Some media got right into it. Others didn't. Mike Beauregard of CBC couldn't understand what all the hype was. Sorry Mike, you missed the point.

Anyone who understands this process understands that the Penguins situation could fall one of two ways, one of which would see the Penguins stay in Pittsburgh; another to be sold to another American city. You see the Pens have strong ties to individuals that have little interest in moving a team to Canada. The Pens would also likely have the highest of price tags as the first team to cave post-modern CBA.

The more cities interested, the more bidding. That's not to say Winnipeg couldn't afford to grab the Pens, but do we need to? Absolutely not. Luckily there are plently of fish in the sea in the near future. There's also the well known fact that, should the Pens get their casino money, then the new owners must keep the team in the Steel City. Will they get that casino money? Not likely. If that money was pegged for the Pens it would have been given them long ago so they could get going on this new arena. The Pens aren't getting any casino money. Unless somebody wants to privately build this team an arena, they're as good as gone. The government is playing a little game called "not on my watch". Mario is selling for the same reason. He doesn't want to be the bad guy and wants out before the ship sinks all the way to Antarctica. Do you blame him? The scary part is that the Pittsburgh media doesn't seem to understand the severity of the situation and seem to dismiss the true possibility of the Pens leaving. They're not taking this seriously at all. Afterall, they do have other pro sports.

All of this sounds oh-so familiar.

Image created by Lauren RobbNow back to Mike Beauregard and others. If they think we are getting whipped into a frenzy because we think the Pens are moving here, the real reason for excitement just flew an F-14 right over their heads. What was the 3rd thing that needed to happen in this website's list of to-dos? (Please refer to the home page if you don't know). Better yet I'll spell it out.

AN OWNERSHIP GROUP.

The arena is built, the CBA came through and all people had left to doubt was whether or not there were people with the bucks willing to get this done. Two days ago we got that answer. Knowing this has kept me going for 33 months! Why so many people have missed this point is baffling.

When Mark Chipman says he'll throw his hat in the ring, who do you suppose makes up that hat? Just the Chipman's and Jim Ludlow? Certainly not. They admittedly do not have the kind of capital to venture into NHL waters alone. They are key players and run MTSC but for them to say they will pursue the Pens situation, it requires a hat with some major players inside. We're talking a hat from a Dr. Suess book.

And there is where all the exciement lays Mr. Beauregard. Not that we think we're getting the Pens, but that when the time comes for several other teams to look to move elsewhere we now know that we have a group that is ready, willing and more-than-able to try and bring one to Winnipeg. For those who constantly doubt Mark Chipman's priorities, we also have the proof that he is clearly willing to do away with the Manitoba Moose and the AHL. So really two key questions have been cleared up in one day. Do the naysayers have anything else to doubt? I'm sure they'll find something. The "$150 ticket multipled by a family of 83" is still out there.

3 for 3. And just few weeks past the Jet-O-Meter's timeline of December 2005. Now we enter into the final waiting period of our journey knowing that everything is in place at our end. Everybody in this city...government, business, MTSC brass...are ready.

Now the Return of the Jets Campaign kicks into full blitz gear with a brand new flashy website and online store to raise funds to stuff our desire for the NHL's return in the faces of every single Winnipegger. Until the job is done.

Famous last words...stay tuned!


January 19th, 2006
All New Campaign Website & More!

The time has come. The timing is right. After 33 months, The Return of the Jets Campaign is pleased to annouce major changes to this website as well as very exciting additions. By March of 2006, www.JetsOwner.com will go live with its whole new design and features! A more professional design is being created as you read this and the end results will be incredible!

The new design will include all the bells and whistles you would find on other top websites. Lauren Robb and a handful of other helpers are working with myself on new additions to the site as well as cleaning up the existing content. There will be four or five new sections to browse through and all pages will be more user friendly. But that's not all...

New JetsOwner.com LogoAnother website will be in the design stages very soon. A full campaign online store will be in operation as well, complete with worldwide ordering and shipping! The campaign has a whole new logo and shirt design to unveil at the time the site launches. As time goes on, more and more campaign gear will be released! The more you buy, the more you'll support the cause therefore helping to raise funds for camapign events and costs like: more merchandise production, various types of advertising, rallies etc. All proceeds will go to campaign costs.

With so much about to happen with this camapign, we should all be excited, but please understand the time and attention to detail that is involved with such a major overhaul. All of this should come together by the time the playoff races are in full gear in the NHL.

Winnipeg is still a hot topic. With recent positive comments from Mark Chipman and Teemu Selanne it it obvious that Winnipeg is still fresh in the minds of owners and players. Also, check out today's National Post for the feature sports section article on the 10 year anniversary of the team officially leaving town. The campaign is mentioned along with other stories.

Hang tight! The Return of the Jets Campaign is about to get much larger in scope!

 
 
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