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.

18 Responses to NHL may come knocking on Winnipegs Door

  1. hockeyhead says:

    i would love to have the jets back. the early 80’s logo was the best.

    one thing players have said is that they hate playing in winnipeg because of the weather.

  2. shortcat1 says:

    Dreamcatcher sounds like a salesman for the proposed Winnipeg franchise. Either that or someone who has a financial implication in a possible Winnipeg team.

    Though the possibility of having another Canadian team is exciting (the second team he’s thinking about being Québec?), the only concerns I may have are:

    1) Though the Canadian/US dollar differential is quite low now, it’s not a given that it will remain so. If things go back towards where they have been for many years, the related problems will come back. Paying a player in US dollars with Canadian income base will make things very difficult for small-market teams. Even Montréal is suffering (though that is partly because of the heavy tax burden it has to bear).

    2) One of the present problems with the league is arguably because of the dilution of talent which will certainly affect the QUALITY of play on the ice. On top of that, it probably contributes to the KIND of play we are seeing – a heavy focus on defensive play and a lot of clutching and grabbing of the talented and speedy players in order to ‘slow them down’.

    So, if the league loses four teams and then expands to two more in Canada, then the hoped-for gain by losing some of the dilution brought about by having 30 teams will be, itself, lost by having to redistribute the lower quality players into those new teams.

    So, would it be nice to have Winnipeg and ‘Québec’ back in the fold? Yes, of course. Would it be good for the NHL? It depends on how many existing franchises fold. (I’m hoping – rather blindly – for about six teams closing down)… We’ll see…..

  3. aafiv says:

    What southern US franchises are in trouble? The only troubled franchise in the US I am aware of is the Pittsburgh Penguins – they’re the only one in danger of going out-of-business.

  4. stooli says:

    Hmmmm…here are 3 great candidates!


    -Karmanos said he has lost $12 million US to $16 million a year since he bought his NHL franchise in 1994


    – The Los Angeles Kings Hockey Club will lose $12.5 million this season. Since the current ownership group purchased the team, losses have totaled $108 million


    -Panthers reportedly lost $64 million in 2002-03

  5. cgolding says:

    If teams actually do fold over the course of the lockout, then there should be a 10-year period WITHOUT any teams being added to the league. I’m not sitting here saying that Canada doesn’t deserve more teams(two teams in florida AND the LA area is idiotic), but the league is going to need to stabilize and gather whatever strength it can following the lockout.

    So i pray to god it is a long time before the league starts knocking on winnipeg’s door. If you can’t sustain your current size and teams are folding, you shouldn’t be adding more teams to the pot in the short term. The health of the major sport leagues is largely due to pool money that they all get a piece of, namely TV for most leagues. The NHL has very little of this revenue, so divying it up doesn’t make sense if you don’t have to.

    Sorry former Jet fans, but I would be relatively shocked if a team appeared there anytime in the near future… especially as a by-product of teams folding.

  6. cgolding says:

    the problem for the league to consider when looking at the Pens is that the town has been proven to be a great hockeytown during better times. something teams like the devils can’t claim… do you really want to kill what could potentially be a strong franchise in a league that should have competitive balance?

  7. aafiv says:

    The Carolina Hurricanes are owned by a billionaire who can afford to move from one bad market to another. They’re not in any danger.

    I have never heard that either the Panthers or the Kings are in danger of folding despite their loss claims.

  8. aafiv says:

    I’m not saying that I want to kill any team. I am disputing the claim of this article that franchises in the southern us are in danger of folding, they’re not.

    In fact, the only franchise that can be said to be in danger of folding is the Pittsburgh Penguins. It’s a fact and has nothing to do with what I want. It would be a disaster for the league.

  9. Dreamcatcher says:

    Actually, (LOL) I am not a financial backer or anything like that. But thanks for the left handed complement.

    Regarding teams in trouble, I would argue, that teams such as the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Stanley Cup Champions no less, ARE in financial trouble if they have to practically give away tickets to fill their building. Another would be Nashville. Why not Columbus? Pittsburgh has been mentioned.

    Some believe that because you have a billionaire owner, that this means you can’t be in financial trouble?!? Why do you believe this? Because the owners POCKETS are infinite?

    How long do you believe owners that are wealthy are going to take a loss? There are very few teams other than say, Toronto, New York(x2), Detroit, Philly, Colorado, Minnesota, Dallas, Boston, and Chicago that did not LOSE money.

    When you pay out 75 percent of your revenue to player salaries, very few franchises are going to flourish. If in fact the owners win this battle, and a Cap is in place, at least there will be some link between revenues, expenses and salaries.

    Contrary to popular believe, NHL owners ARE interested in turning a profit. Who owns a business to constantly lose money? Billionaires? That doesn’t make any sense at all. Even if a billionaire owns a team as a hobby or a tax right off, I hardly believe he wants to take hits like losing millions of dollars.

    I’ll tell you what. You present a logical argument or proof of why Southern U.S teams are NOT in danger of folding, and I’ll provide you with 5 MORE REASONS why they ARE in danger of folding!

  10. habsoverserver says:

    The NHL might as well shove teams into Canada. Without scoring, end to end rushes or fighting, the NHL will have a tough time appealing to new fans in the US.

  11. Dreamcatcher says:

    I am afraid I disagree whole heartedly. If teams fold, they can be sold to interests in Winnipeg or Quebec. Should, say, 4 teams fold, and say a city such as Nashville sells it’s franchise to Winnipeg, how is this adding to an existing problem? If you are as large an NHL hockey fan as you actually sound, then why are you not aware of the value of a franchise in the ‘peg? Are you not aware of how rabid Manitobans are regarding Hockey? Sheesh..

    Lets try this…take a market of say Tampa Bay roughly, what….4 million people? Of that, there are what, a base of 20-25,00 hardcore hockey fans?

    Now take Winnipeg a city of roughly 700,000 or the province of Manitoba with roughly only 1.5 million people. Of this, well over 100,000 are hardcore Hockey fans. Now who truly has the “Market?”

    I understand it would be difficult for many outside Winnipeg to understand where alot of us are coming from regarding wanting the NHL back. The thing is, there’s alot…and I mean, alot of quiet money in this province. It just needs channeling.

    There are alot of large businesses and money people on board for this. They are simply waiting for the CBA to turn out. One final note. At least TWO EXISTING SOUTHERN FRANCHISES have approached Winnipeg regarding possible (possible being the operative word) relocating if the CBA turns out. If the owners cave…there won’t be much of a league worth being part of anyway.

  12. Bishop7979 says:

    to all those who have posted that the pens are in danger of folding ect ect this is a direct quote taken from this past fridays pittsburgh post gazette.

    “KOVACEVIC: As I have written many times before, Lorie, there is plenty of evidence to support that the Penguins are financially sound

    enough to survive even a very lengthy lockout. Their debt, which has been do*****ented in the Post-Gazette, is manageable, as is their current financial load.

    Moreover, Bill Daly, the NHL vice president most responsible for labor matters, last year ranked the Penguins as being one of the teams that is best prepared for a lockout based on their finances.”

    Pittsburgh is a great hockey town, its funny how quickly people start to dig at a great team when it has had 2 poor years.

    I mean they are only 3 seasons away from a pretty deep playoff run. And they were in a position to up their payroll above that of washington, chicago, minnosota and florida this upcoming season, even without revenue sharing.

  13. 19Yzerman says:

    The activity of NHL frachises over long term suggests that Winnipeg would be worth trying once again. Look at NHL cities that once had an NHL franchise then saw it go and were deprived for years then awarded another franchise once again Minnisota and Colorado.

    Chicago, Pittsburgh and Washington are strong markets that if deprived of an NHL franchise would become just as supportive as Minnisota and Colorado upon the return of an NHL franchise.

    It matters not the population to Hockey fan ratio of a market only filling seats at the arena.

    Remember when those Ottawa players were playing without pay and the team had chopped ticket price to draw fans.

    Its all about fan support and hosting a Stanley Cup finals game shouln’t be a prerequisite to supporting your cities team or what ever team you like for that matter.

  14. cgolding says:

    moving a team is one thing. if you fold a team, that means the team no longer exists… you don’t then sell a folded team. if one of the southern teams decides to move, then yes, winnipeg should be an option. pittsburgh should not be one of those options because in the past it has been a very strong market.

    the reason for the infusion of hockey teams in america as opposed to canada, EVEN WITH the popularity of hockey in canada, is that financially the league is better off with the US money being more involved. so basically, they are greedy and trying to create markets where they don’t exist in order to bring more money into the league in the long run. obviously there are a ton more people in the US who can watch TV, which in the end could lead to a better TV deal than what the league could get in canada alone.

    now… as to not adding a team if teams do fold, this isn’t an argument that is specifically anti-winnipeg, it’s simple reality.

    last year NHL teams got something like 6 million dollars from the league pool. by comparison NFL teams got something on the order of 80 million, i’m pulling this out of my a$$ a bit, but it is close to that number.

    the reason you don’t ADD teams to the league following the lockout and teams actually folding is because the one benefit that the league will recieve from having less teams, other than a deeper talent pool for the remaining teams, is that teams will get a bigger piece of the pot of money. that would facilitate some of these struggling franchises being able to perhaps strengthen their hold on their respective markets, thus making the league stronger.

    that is why i would desire a stop to expansion for a period of time, so that the league as a whole could get financially stable within the existing markets. not weaken the league as a whole by bringing another franchise into the mix… it isn’t that the team in winnipeg wouldn’t work, it’s that you would as a product of that weaken the struggling teams in the US that the league ABSOLUTELY needs in order to bring large revenue into the league.

    not to mention arguing against the southern city teams based on the # of hockey fans is somewhat idiotic and ignorant of the purpose of putting the teams there in the first place. the idea is to cultivate a hockey market in these larger US cities. the problem is that it takes a while, and the NHL hasn’t been patient with this process of expansion and has over-expanded while they still had fledgling franchises. if they had paused longer between teams entering the league, these weak teams in the US could have feasted on low draft-picks and strengthened their systems.

    when looking at the US the argument against ANYONE saying it will never work in these cities is Philadelphia, where i’m at. this was anything but a hockey market when the Flyers arrived. with good management it has turned into arguably the best hockey market in the US(more people watched the cup finals in philly than anywhere else in the country outside of tampa). Detroit and Philly are 1 and 2 in TV-ratings in the US, which is why they are constantly the national telecast games, which you’ve prolly noticed on ABC and ESPN.

    it takes time to develop these teams in Tampa, Miami, etc… while it is stupid that they put that many teams in these places that quickly. the first generation of fans who grew up with those teams hasn’t even reached an age where they are major spenders, so the NHL isn’t getting money from them really yet. same goes for teams like the Devils.

    Winnipeg simply doesn’t offer that to the NHL. do they deserve a team up there all the same? yeah, they probably do. but it makes about as much sense to make that move following a lockout and teams folding, at least in creation of a new franchise, as it did to expand so quickly into columbus, miami, tampa, etc…

  15. cgolding says:

    1. They are losing less money right now than they would be if they are playing. Thus they are more likely to be in a better position to play whenever the lockout ends.

    sidenote: teams in canada have proven to be no less likely to be on the verge of folding. ottawa was in a serious financial hole a couple of years back… hell, buffalo was as well, and that isn’t a southern US team.

    Tampa is nowhere near folding, there is way too much money behind the team. they didn’t lose money this past year with their playoff run. In order for a team to “fold” they have to have zero cash. If the owner of the team is a billionaire then he can assume the loss on his investment… doesn’t make it a “healthy” franchise, but there is a large difference from being a positive financial situation and a team folding. The guy that owns Tampa is a billionaire, they aren’t going anywhere.

  16. cgolding says:

    pens just need a viable friggin arena. went and saw my boys from Penn play in the NCAA tourney out there, that place is simply awful. if they ever get that, and then get to play in a league with some sort of financial restraint it will be back to the good old days of blood and guts between you guys and us back east. i miss those games…

    it’s one of the better sports towns in america. the arena just produces nothing for them, and they are dealing with the financial realities of the mess the league is in right now.

  17. Bishop7979 says:

    Mellon arena is simply horrible. and even worse the pens dont own it, meaning that they actually have to pay to play in that dump. the idea is that the team will own the arean that is being proposed right now, getting them out of paying a lease, and it will get the team revenues from concerts ice shows wrestling ect.

    I hope we can get something even remotely as nice as toronto’s arena, or philly’s or even what I’ve seen of tampa and pho’s on tv.

  18. aafiv says:

    Here are a few arguments for you, friend.

    1.) You claim that franshises are in the southern US are in danger of “folding”. That’s ludicrous, you know it and have nothing to back your claim.

    2.) Your information is based on the claims of billionaires who refuse to allow any independent review of their books — see recent Forbes magazine article regarding the real losses incurred by the league.

    3.) If small markets in the US would be in danger, why should the NHL move to a proven loser in Winnipeg?

    When are YOU going to put forth some logic and stop being a tool of the owners?

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