Hundreds of thousands of them! The Jets left town in 1996 because of NHL economics and the lack of a modern facility to call home. Enough time has passed with the current situation and the hockey we have been forced to settle for. A brand of hockey that WILL NOT revitalize the downtown as planned nor create any interest beyond “freebie” tickets. Will you drive downtown on a Tuesday night after work to see the Moose play the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins after it has been announced our best player has been re-called to Vancouver, again? This is supposed to be the main tenant in our new arena? This is supposed to give downtown the boost it needs and spawn growth and business? I think not.
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. This idea may seem laughable at the moment, but keep in mind the moment will soon be changing.
The NHL will fall into disarray in September 2004, opening the door to the likelihood that salaries will be under more control. There is also the likelihood that American teams will want out or at least suffer less in a real hockey market rather than a poor hockey market with an NFL, MLB, and NBA team that will always overshadow them anyway. Those teams are averaging less fans per game in a much larger population base than the Winnipeg Jets of the past ever did. They are failing. Their fans don’t love hockey, they think it’s neat. They will not survive a lock-out because they will have better things to do. We don’t. We want NHL hockey to have throughout the winter. We love it. We give it front page, top priority.
THIS CAN BE DONE.
Here are the 3 main factors that will result in getting our team back:
1. The CBA Turns Out
By turns out I mean not just turns out of for cities like Winnipeg but for every city in the current NHL. It simply can’t go on the way it is. It can’t sustain the costs that are being incurred through player salaries and the lack of revenues from poor attendence and no significant television contract. Businesses don’t survive by losing more and more money every year and in turn pay their employees more and more salary. That’s what’s going on in the NHL today. A league like the NFL sees every single one of it’s teams profit each year so 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 upon us. There is no other choice. And if nothing changes then it won’t be much of a league to be a part of anyway. We have to prepare for this now so we don’t miss the boat should the CBA of 2004 turn in the good of hockey’s favour. The league has to be well aware that Winnipeg is first in line for a franchise. Many hockey people would love to see Wininpeg in the NHL again. Why wouldn’t they?
2. An Owner
It won’t be long before current owners or potential owners will say to themselves, 'Winnipeg is a hockey paradise. We can't do worse there, only better'. 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”. Raw population really has little to do with it and I think Winnipeggers are getting tired of being referred to as a “small market”. If there are 100,000 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.
3. An Arena
Newsflash...we’ve got one now! It’s done. With the statement made by Mark Chipman, owner of the Manitoba Moose, that he would welcome and even join an NHL ownership group in the MTS Centre there seems no better time to get rolling than now. The questions of size restrictions in the new building needs 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 majority of buildings across the league that remain 1/3 empty on most evenings. Not only are tickets too expensive to fill them, they are too big and unrealistic to fill. What better mentality than to have it be actually difficult to get a ticket to a Jets game! 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. It 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 and the last time I checked it won’t be too hard to walk across one of the 3 sky-walks to an adjacent office building or use the phone to call over to the rink. Another myth is ticket prices. I am constantly thrown figures like $117 average tickets. That’s absurd. There isn’t a team in the league that fetches that. There is surely a $117 ticket you can buy but there aren’t many cities where you can’t get a $30 ticket somewhere in the arena. And in a new NHL that too will decrease.
The Non-Hockey Aspect
In order for Winnipeg to properly revitalize the downtown we need a main tenant in our new arena that will bring 15,000 people downtown 42 nights a year to spawn the growth that is needed and reap all of the economic spin-offs that come with it. Those kind of numbers will make youth stay here and open up their own bars and cafes. That tenant is the Winnipeg Jets and the NHL. It is important to scare away pan-handlers and boarded up stores. Our current team WILL NOT create this and I refuse to believe that others don't see this. 3,700 people running from their cars with freebie tickets aren’t going to create growth and make it feel safe to go downtown. We need top caliber hockey in the MTS Centre to put the finishing touches on Glen Murray’s ideology of Winnipeg’s downtown of the future. A future without the NHL downtown scares me. With the Jets back downtown people will be excited again about Winnipeg and not have the desire to move to away, like so many in my age group have. Not because we got an NHL team back but because we had the vision to do so. Small, narrow-minded people in this city make us believe we are inferior. We are not. We will get our Jets back. The NHL will be begging to have us back. And we won’t have to use tax dollars or pay $117 for a ticket.....
So here it is! www.JetsOwner.com, a place where you can post your views for the world to see, find crucial contact information, find out just about anything about the Jets of the past, view the campaigns’ published works in the media, find out about the official specs of the new arena that is being built and even hear some great music! It is somewhat of a hub for Jets supporters like yourself to go and find the facts they need in one concise bookmark. The site will be continuously updated and improved as time goes on, including new features and weekly news. Your feedback is more than welcome as unfortunately there is no manual for “how to develop a website and campaign to retrieve an NHL hockey team to a city that deserves it but lost it and now wants to prove that it can have it back”. This will likely consume every second of my spare time and will snowball to levels beyond belief very fast. The help you have already offered is staggering and will be needed in the near future. It is a perfect example of just what so many Winnipegers are all about. If only we could get potential owners, ALL politicians, and ALL of the media to see.
And see they will...And hear they will...from us...The “Return Of The Jets” Campaign! Enjoy browsing and please contact me with any ideas you may have.
And remember, the right set of circumstances has a lot to do with what WE create ourselves. Power by numbers! Read on.
Lets Find Our JetsOwner!
This collection of nearly 100 press clippings are a tribute
to the final month of the Jets as created by GW Stein