Hockey Fever Runs Rampant in Winnipeg
The Atlanta Thrashers are no more and Winnipeg has finally has an NHL team again. The Manitoba city has been without one since the Jets relocated to Phoenix in 1996. Speculation had been building for a while and a deal was finally completed on May 31st. The last step in the process is formal approval by the NHL's Board of Governors at a meeting on June 21, which isn't expected to be a problem.
Once season ticket sales opened to the general public on June 4th, it took just minutes to sell through the allotted 13,000 spots. Several thousands more put themselves on a waiting list should spots open up. Now, hockey-deprived fans are doing anything they can to get seats for the new Winnipeg team. Some interesting proposals offered in exchange for tickets include: naming rights for a first-born son, $15,000 in concrete work, daily childcare services, used cars and sports memorabilia.
This ferocity for tickets bodes well for the team and should be a strong sign that the team will be well-received in the area. As the deal is finalized and the organization goes about deciding on a name and identity, interest in the team should continue to build.
At some point, management will have to address the fact that the likely home for the new team, the 15,015-seat MTS Centre, houses the smallest number of fans in the NHL. Regardless, this area has been pushing for hockey ever since the Jets left. Now that they have it, team gear, memorabilia and cards should all see strong sales and interest.