Will the new Winnipeg Jets fare any better than the original franchise? The Conference Board of Canada, which is a think-tank based in Ottawa, believes it will.
As the Winnipeg Free Press reported, the group thinks the Jets’ situation will remain “rosy” from now until 2035. That’s due in part to Winnipeg being a growing city that the think-tank believes will reach a population of 1.1 million by 2035.
“You’d be like Calgary, Edmonton or Ottawa right now. You could easily carry the three franchises,” said Glen Hodgson, senior vice-president and chief economist with the conference board. He’s referring to the Canadian Football league Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the non-MLB affiliated Winnipeg Goldeyes’ baseball franchise in addition to the Jets.
“Each (Winnipeg) team needs to be aware of the market. The market is constrained now with just under 800,000 people, but it’s growing with good momentum (expected) over the next three to five years. The population is bigger and income levels have risen — the fundamentals are all aligning now for the Jets.”
Naturally, you need more than just a growing population and locals with disposable income to support a franchise. Fan loyalty counts for a lot, but that’s an area that the Jets have excelled so far. Not only has the MTS Centre already been sold out for at least the next two seasons, but the waiting list is 8,000 people long.
Another factor is the strength of the Canadian Dollar. The Canadian franchises have enjoyed a dollar that’s been at roughly par with the USD for a while but, as Hodgson pointed out, if the Canadian Dollar was ever to drop significantly, the smaller Canadian markets might be in trouble. It’s worth adding that as recently as 2002, the Canadian Loonie was worth a little more than 60 cents American.
“Then it’s a different story, we’d be back in the bad old days. There is a cost disadvantage to being in Canada and having a payroll in U.S. dollars but your revenue is largely in Canadian dollars,” Hodgson said.
So at the end of the day, nothing is truly certain, but with one season in the books, there are reasons to be optimistic about the future of the Jets.