With the announcement of the Atlanta Thrashers moving to Winnipeg for the 2011-12 season, it's now time for True North Sports and Entertainment to begin the preparations for the return of NHL hockey.
During this afternoon's press conference, True North president Jim Ludlow announced the team's "Drive to 13,000" ticket sale campaign that the group hopes they can meet before the Board of Governors vote to approve the change of ownership and relocation on June 21.
"True North Sports Entertainment has had a great run of building brands in the City of Winnipeg over the past six years, from the Manitoba Moose to MTS Centre to the recently completed MTS Iceplex," said Jim Ludlow, President & CEO, True North Sports & Entertainment. "This process has led us to today. We have made a commitment to the National Hockey League and to our ownership to sell 13,000 season tickets. It is with great anticipation that we look forward to the support from the Winnipeg community and the successful conclusion of this process."
A pre-sale for existing Manitoba Moose season ticket holders begins tomorrow and runs through Friday. Sales to the general public will begin on Saturday morning. A Twitter account and Facebook page have also been set up to promote the sales drive.
Here's how the ticket pricing tiers break down:
Fans wishing for season tickets will have to enter into a purchasing agreement for either three, four or five years depending on their section. Buyers committing to one of those three options "will be guaranteed their ticket price per game will not increase by more than 3-percent annually."
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman threw the gauntlet down to Winnipeg hockey fans during the press conference saying, "This isn't going to work very well unless this building is sold out every night."
Every night? We imagine Year One will be packed for all 41 home games, but there's bound to be some drop off once the honeymoon period ends and if the team declines and misses the playoffs for a few seasons.
But Winnipeg has clamored for NHL hockey since the day the Jets left town in 1996 and now that their wish has become a reality, the support needs to be there because their attendance figures in a few years, should the team be a middle of the road one, will be scrutinized closely.