NHL may come knocking on Winnipegs Door

Many outside of Winnipeg were under the wrong impression of why the city lost its NHL team. It was not due to lack of fan support, but rather escalating salaries, and an ownership group that simply “fell into” ownership of club. Looking at finances now, that seems pretty obvious.

Even if the CBA turns out in favor of the Owners, a long lockout will likely spell the end of some of the Southern U.S franchises, possibly opening the door to at least two Canadian cities. Eight years ago, Winnipeg averaged 13,100 fans, but Winnipeg Enterprises owned most sources of revenue, AND charged the hockey team rent! It was pretty difficult to maintain a Pro team under those cir*****stances.

With the brand new MTS Centre, capable of housing between 15,100 and 16,000 fans, Gary Bettman, has apparently given his blessing to MTS Centre as fully capable of housing NHL Hockey. The owner, Mark Chipman, also owner of the AHL Manitoba Moose, also has not ruled out the NHL, providing the CBA works out. Plus, he owns all sources of revenue.***

For those unaware of just how awesome this new arena truly is, or are still stuck on the idea Winnipeg cannot get the NHL back, see below. An 18,000 to 22,000 seat arena, is not the “rule” for NHL Hockey. Most of these arena’s, not all, but most do not fill even close to capacity.

The players and other staff have a private entrance from which players can access Eaton Place parking. This access is right outside the home team dressing quarters.

With regards to home dressing rooms, there is top notch, digital video amenities for tape study, huge showering stalls, a player lounge, two exercise facilities, coaching offices, equipment rooms, doctor’s room and of course the main dressing area.

The vistors dressing areas are perhaps the most stunning. There are two separate visitors dressing facilities. Add to that another basic dressing room for kids teams (or intermission entertainment)

Other lower features include massive kitchen facilities that cater a majority of the building, referee rooms, one large press/media lounge with endless computer ports and TVs, four performer dressing rooms that can also be turned into one gigantic backstage facility for the bigger acts, a distinct hi-tech broadcast facility for TV networks, and a large storage space for basketball flooring and floor seating for concerts.

The Main Concourse

The primary concourse level consists of more-than-adequate space for movement. The concessions are tucked and out of the way on all four corners of the concourse, & MTSC has 28 exits for convenience. There is Moxies Grill, a Tim Horton’s, Quiznos and the team store as well as other well-known food amenities.

Club Seating and Lounge

This is a very unique and stand-out feature of the building. The club lounge (below the seating bowl bar) has a huge bar with 14 beers on tap along with an adjacent kitchen which is self-contained. People can come early and enjoy the great food before and after the game. Above the lounge from two staircases is the seating bowl bar which again has a full bar and incredible views of the game. There is also a mezzanine for members to mingle before, during or after the game.

The Suite Level

It is one of the closest, if not the closest, suite holders can get to the action in any arena in the NHL. They are carpeted and have the beachwood look, while including a 27″ TV for replay and a sink, fridge and ample closet and cupboard space. Washrooms for suite holders are at each corner of a full-ring hallway that self-contains the members.

The Press Boxes

The press box is high and into the trusses of MTSC, much like Winnipeg Arena which most media personnel would agree is ideal. Access is gained via elevators located at the end of the press box where there is also a press common room.

The Scoreboard, Power Ring and Seating Bowl

Modelled after the Xcel Energy Center’s board, it boasts a 12mm pixel resolution (many are 24mm which is half the quality). I am told only Houston and San Antonio have better resolutions for their scoreboard screens at 8mm. It is crystal clear. There are large 16×9 aspect screens on all four sides and 12 other smaller screens for advertising and score keeping.

The “Power Ring” was completely installed and runs loops of custom images and graphical tricks.

The entire ceiling is covered with special drooping banners made of a material for acoustics. Once in the seating bowl it is like you are in a living room. Your voice does not resonate, nor do you hear the sounds of heating vents or anything like that. It is tight. It will be loud in this place!

Every seat is padded, which also helps acoustics. The scoreboard and sound system (JBL) are both controlled by a separate room.

The Main Entrance

The Portage Avenue entrance is obviously the stand-out. It has one of the two major TicketMaster outlets and Will-Call booths in the building as well as nifty decorative banners, colorful lighting schemes, beautiful brick and glass and connected high level walkways. There are escalators and staircases to get to each of the three tiers and the sky-walk system. The building, on the outside, is absolutely beautiful.

I believe it will not be long before the NHL comes knocking on Winnipegs door.