The three year thing is highly annoying. It's based on an article from a Winnipeg Free Press reporter and nothing other than that. There's no basis in fact but absolutely everything to do with "the return of the Jets!!!1!!1!" just takes off running like wildfire
I can tell you based on what I know about the population of Winnipeg that if they're looking for full 40+ game commitments from people it will be a lukewarm response. I have zero doubt that the luxury boxes (something NOT present in the old Winnipeg arena) would sell out in a fraction of a second with a healthy waiting list. Not all of the current tenants will ante up at the NHL pricing which is estimated to be 3-4 times as much as they pay for a box for the Moose.
I think the lower seats (reds) would probably sell out or would be 75% or so sell outs at the full commitment. After that it gets iffy. Winnipeggers are inherently cheap and in past they used to sell a ton of what we called mini-packs. I think that's what you have for the Wild right Jeff? Up here they are typically ten game packs where they bundle some big draws like Montreal, Toronto
, Boston or others with some weaker teams (I imagine Edmonton and Calgary would be the other games they'd try to fill, along with the Carolina or Florida types of teams) - basically games that otherwise people aren't dying to get tickets for. So the blues and the upper deck would largely be sold as mini-packs or as single game seats rather than true season ticket packages.
The other hitch is we have no idea what the schedule is going to be. So what division are we in? If we're in the central with Minnesota and other true Midwest teams it would work well. If they slap us over in the Pacific then not so much. There's really not much love, rivalry inspired or otherwise, for the Calgary/Edmonton/Vancouver/Colorado types of teams locally. I guess we probably have our share of fans for each team but no real major draws there like the Canadiens and Bruins and Leafs. Sound familiar?
And I just don't see people ponying up the money for three years. That's a serious financial commitment for just about anyone when you figure $4000 a year ($100/ticket average) for a single seat so you're looking at three years $12,000 and you're probably buying two seats doubling that. One year commitments I think would be easy but laying it out front for $24K on average? Uh, no, not here and I don't think there are too many places where you'd get a positive affirmation on that concept.
I think the owners here understand that won't fly so well and if they don't then they should probably rethink relocating a team. I see no problems with the team being well supported going forward for years to come but that too will depend on the product they put on the ice.
The good news is that this arena is owned by the ownership group already. They own a pile of the buildlings around the arena so they can expand if they want. They can tear them down for parking if they want. They aren't dependent on government funding for anything at this point so it's a really positive situation. They're also being absolutely silent on this as compared to a Balsillie type of approach and I think that'll sit well with the NHL owners that these guys seem to understand their place already and aren't trying to do anything other than what the NHL wants.
Will the NHL return? I dunno, I've seen it so many times I'm not getting too fired up just yet. As I said I am really entertained by it all, the ignorant comments on both sides are fascinating to see and pretty equal in their stupidity. But I will be in for a pair of ten-game minipacks so about $2000 from me.
I'll go this far: Winnipeg is small enough that there's really only about 2, maybe 3 degrees of separation here. Based on what I hear from the guys in the restaurant industry we'll have a team in the fall for sure. What team it will be is yet to be determined - it could be the Coyotes, it could be Atlanta. From what I hear the NHL would much prefer to keep the Coyotes where they are and move Atlanta here. I think Phoenix/Glendale isn't a bad market, but they put the arena in a bad place and that does really impact attendance. So with the fiasco that's ongoing in the ownership issues, we may get them yet.
We do also hear an awful lot about the Quebec City, Hamilton and Kansas City sites as getting the Coyotes. Quebec City is supposedly much better liked by players and is ready to go with the old Coliseum but their new arena is dependent on both provincial and federal dollars. I see no problem with he provincial funding but the federal dollars opens the door to all the other Canadian teams getting money at some point down the road once the precedent is set and I don't think the Feds want that. Hamilton is a great site and they'd have no problem, but Balsillie is the probable owner in that area and I think the NHL might hate him more than they hate Winnipeg (WHA stuff) plus they have the potentially very large impact on the Buffalo market. Toronto is like Green Bay in terms of security for tickets so there is zero issue there. KC? I don't know here, I heard they have an arena and they have the population but I think that's another Columbus ultimately. A good core of fans but maybe not rabid and no real ownership group has been discussed.
True North Entertainment in Winnipeg racks up money from the use of the arena (top 20 busiest in North America for various events like concerts, exhibitions, etc.) and has played completely by the rules. HD video broadcast equipment was installed a couple of weeks ago. The fan base is rabid. The arena is owned by the ownership group free and clear with room to expand. Everyone I know that's supposedly in the know says it's happening.
For now: GO WINGS!