Tag: Drive to 13

NHL in Winnipeg

Drive to 13 complete: Winnipeg season tickets sell out in 17 minutes


To little surprise, the Drive to 13,000 season ticket holders was completed once tickets became available to the general public today. The more amazing part was the rapid speed in which it happened: Winnipeg fans reportedly only took four minutes to scoop up the 5,842 (or so) tickets that remained, while it took 17 minutes to process all the orders.

True North Sports and Entertainment is now compiling a season ticket waiting list for fans who weren’t able to get tickets. One cannot help but wonder if those waiting lists will rival the tradition of highly-contested ticket deals that Green Bay Packers fans are famous for in Wisconsin. (Pension Plan Puppets’ Chemmy said that they already have 4,000 fans on their waiting list, but that’s not an official number.)

One of the biggest questions for eager fans revolved around how well the Drive to 13 site would handle the huge rush of traffic that would hit its Web site around noon central time. ChrisD.ca reports that it was Ticketmaster’s Web site that ran slowly, instead.

With their stated goal of reaching 13,000 season tickets now a reality, we wait for True North to back up their promise by announcing the new team’s name. We’ll let you know the verdict once it is announced. In the mean time, here’s a quick statement from True North.

“The success of the campaign is a key ingredient to ensuring the sustainability and long-term viability of NHL hockey in this province,” said Jim Ludlow, President & CEO, True North Sports & Entertainment. “We look forward to seeing everyone this Fall at MTS Centre for opening night of regular season NHL hockey in Winnipeg.”

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was impressed with the speed of the sale.

“While I had no doubt the ‘Drive to 13,000′ would reach its destination, the remarkable speed at which it got there certifies the fans’ hunger for NHL hockey and their commitment to True North’s initiatives.”

Drive to 13 update: Remaining season tickets for Winnipeg games expected to go fast

Thrashers Future Hockey

It’s never safe to judge the success of a business venture when it’s the hot, new thing. Just look at a list of musical one-hit wonders, the disaster that was New Coke, failed TV shows, etc. and it’s clear that longevity is an important factor in judging something as a true success.

So we’ll need to wait and see if this Winnipeg 2.0 experiment succeeds beyond the 3-5 year investments that have already been (and will be) made, but the passion and money seems to be there in the beginning. As we discussed earlier, True North Sports and Entertainment’s pre-sale was a resounding success.

The Drive to 13 Twitter account revealed that the “P1” category sold out, meaning that most expensive season ticket packages will be available. If you believe this story in the Winnipeg Free Press, money might not be much of an object for hockey-starved Winnipeg fans either way, though.

“It is worth it for me to steal Internet to get these tickets. You can put that in the paper,” proclaimed Moorehead, a Brandon teacher. “I just want a seat. I would sit behind a wall in a three-quarters-obstructed seat all season long to get there.”

It is possible Moorehead will cry if he doesn’t get tickets.

Nearly every fan who gathered Friday night at the 4Play Sports Bar and Grill expressed a sense of genuine panic at the looming ticket frenzy. There are only about 5,800 season tickets left and exponentially more people vying for them. Everyone said they weren’t fussy about which “P” — for price point — their seats were in. They’d take anything. And they expected everything to be sold out by 12:30 p.m., if not earlier.

“I don’t think anyone wants to be in the same room with me if I don’t get tickets,” said Shawn Knox, who changed his shift at the city’s 311 information line so he could be home at his computer at noon.

As much as we feel for jilted Atlanta hockey fans, it is beautiful to see how passionately Winnipeg is embracing its second chance to succeed as an NHL market, even if the small Canadian city faces an uphill battle in some ways. We’ll keep you updated about the Drive to 13, especially since we could find out the team’s new name shortly if True North keeps their promise.

Drive To 13 update: Winnipeg more than halfway to goal with general sale starting tomorrow

NHL in Winnipeg

We had an update on how ticket sales were going in Winnipeg earlier today showing that over 4,000 season tickets were sold after just two days of being available as part of a presale before being opened up to the general public on Saturday. While that number was more than impressive, the “Drive To 13” update this evening was even more encouraging to the fans in Winnipeg looking to impress the NHL and guarantee the Board of Governors approval to sell the Atlanta Thrashers to True North and move the team to Canada.

Late this afternoon, the Drive To 13 official twitter account updated the sales figures and they’re huge with 7,158 season ticket deposits put down for the next three, four, or five years of Winnipeg NHL hockey. That leaves 5,842 more deposits left to go with the online free-for-all for all potential buyers tomorrow starting at noon. With the rest of Manitoba and north-central United States ready to chime in and get a piece of the action in Winnipeg, you have to think that perhaps they’ll meet their goal before the weekend is even out.

Look at it this way, True North gave fans up to three weeks to take care of business for themselves and they could get it done in four days. That’s impressive no matter how you look at it because that’s a lot of money getting plunked down and a lot of years being devoted to an NHL team. Of course, once those 13,000 tickets are bought up we’ll get to find out what True North plans on naming the team.

With all the Jets nostalgia running wild through not just the City of Winnipeg but across North America, it would become a severe let down and a damn shame to see the team named something else that smacks of marketing nonsense. We’ll save our indignation in case that happens, but we guarantee that there will be some in written form here should things go that way. Nonetheless, Winnipeg is doing their job of showing what it all means to them regardless of the team’s name and that’s something to be proud of.

Winnipeg’s “Drive to 13” off to a huge start

Thrashers Future Hockey

When True North made their announcement that they were going to purchase the Atlanta Thrashers and move the team to Winnipeg, they made it clear that they had another task to complete. True North shifted their focus to having the fans in Winnipeg and around Manitoba, Canada step up and show the NHL that they’re serious about having the team come to Winnipeg and be successful there.

True North started their “Drive To 13” campaign in which they want to sell 13,000 season tickets by June 21 when the NHL Board of Governors will meet and vote whether to approve the sale and relocation of the franchise. In True North’s mind, and perhaps the NHL’s as well, selling 13,000 season tickets in just a matter of three weeks is a good way to prove they’re serious about bringing a team back.

So far it appears that they’re very serious about buying tickets as well.

By late afternoon Thursday, True North Sports and Entertainment Ltd., announced 4,170 season tickets were sold, which is almost equal to the 4,500 season tickets for the departing Manitoba Moose. All season tickets come with a commitment from the buyer from three to five years.

This is significant because the first three days of the online campaign are only open to groups of subscribers to the Moose, the American Hockey League team that is being moved to St. John’s.

That’s a pretty healthy percentage of people who are eligible to buy the tickets early taking advantage of the early sale. With the general season ticket sales opening up to the rest of Winnipeg and ticket buyers around, it’s hard to imagine that the team will run into any problems at all meeting the goal of 13,000. With just 8,830 tickets left to go, you’d have to imagine that with sales being opened up to the rest of the public things will go over rather smoothly.

MTS Centre in Winnipeg holds just over 15,000 fans so getting a commitment of 13,000 like that right up front is huge. Should all those tickets get bought up that guarantees having 87% of the building filled (or at least paid for) no matter what for at least the next three seasons. For what it’s worth, an 87% filled building would put Winnipeg 22nd in the NHL for capacity percentage this year. With up to 2,000 walk up tickets available each game that number isn’t too inspiring, but considering that season ticket sales won’t be stopped once they hit 13,000 we’ve got a good feeling about how things will shake out in Winnipeg attendance-wise in the meantime.

It’s a situation worth monitoring until they hit their target number, but we’ve got a feeling this watch on the “Drive To 13” won’t last all that long. The fans in Winnipeg have been hoping for a return of the NHL for the last 15 years and they’re not about to let it slip away now.

Winnipeg’s team name will emerge once they sell 13,000 season tickets; Front office questions linger

NHL in Winnipeg

The Atlanta Thrashers’ relocation to Winnipeg was finally made official earlier this week, which generates a different set of questions regarding the team’s immediate future.

As we already discussed before, True North Sports and Entertainment hopes to reach a preliminary goal of selling 13,000 season tickets.* For the many people wondering what the new Winnipeg team’s name will be (you can still vote for your favorite choice here, by the way), True North provides a simple window for when they will provide an answer. CBC News reports that the team’s new name will be revealed once the new team crosses that 13,000 season tickets sold threshold.

The CBC reports that ticket holders and corporate sponsors for the True North’s AHL team the Manitoba Moose have been given the first opportunity to snatch those hot tickets. The general public will receive an opportunity to start gobbling up the rest on Saturday, so that 13,000 goal seems pretty reachable in the near future.

While we wait to see if the Winnipeg Jets will return to the NHL once more, Elliotte Friedman thinks that the franchise itself should focus on some important front office questions in the mean time. Much like the general managers they often hire, new owners often prefer to hire “their own” people. With that in mind, Friedman points out that it would be fair and logical to make those decisions soon so anyone who doesn’t make the cut would have time to find another job.

What Chipman must do now is make a quick decision on Rick Dudley, Craig Ramsay and the rest of the Thrashers’ front office/coaching staff. If he doesn’t want to keep some or all of those people, the right thing to do is release them quickly so they can find new jobs.

One of the reasons the sale took a little longer to close was that True North didn’t want to be on the hook for contracts (like Dudley’s recent extension) it didn’t take. Teams want their staffs in place by the draft. The longer the Jets/Falcons/Moose/Polar Bears take to make those choices, the less chance those individuals will have to land on their feet elsewhere. There is a lot of competition, especially when it comes to coaching.

As for True North’s own structure, Chipman made it very clear that Craig Heisinger will have “a significant role” moving forward. It’s also believed Claude Noel, who impressed both the Moose and the Canucks this year, will get the big-league coaching job. Both men have really good reputations, but Chipman will look for a more experience NHL-level executive to help them get started.

That may not be easy, because you’re going into a situation where [you don’t have] full control over who is working for you. Anyway, Vancouver has two candidates, Vice-President of Player Personnel Lorne Henning and Vice-President Hockey Operations Laurence Gilman (who is from Winnipeg). And don’t discount former Toronto GM John Ferguson, either. He has Winnipeg connections and knows Chipman well.

(That rising cackle you just heard is a chorus of Maple Leafs fans laughing at the mention of the name John Ferguson, a roundly ridiculed GM in Toronto.)

While I like a lot of what I’ve seen from GM Rick Dudley in just one season with the hockey artists formerly known as the Atlanta Thrashers, he was in the early part of a rebuild mode. Going with a different general manager (and also canning head coach Craig Ramsay, if they want to) now would be more reasonable than waiting for the first opportunity to fire him later. It might not be fair for them to lose their jobs after just one season of promising improvement, but True North has the right to put their own stamp on their new team.

Whether you hand this new Winnipeg ship the title of Jets, Moose or some other name, a winning team will ultimately drive jersey sales more than nostalgia or a great logo. We’ll keep you informed as True North begins to steer this boat in a new direction.

*At this moment in time, the “Drive to 13” Web site indicates that 4,170 season ticket packages have been sold.