Since ganking the Atlanta Thrashers, renaming them the Jets and releasing a spiffy new logo, Winnipeg is squarely on the National stage as they get ready to bring NHL hockey to Manitoba for the first time in 15 years. The City is hotter than the Keegan Bradley fan club and they are getting ready for one hell of a party.

With that in mind we fired up the imaginary WanyeJet and visited friendly Manitoba for the past several days. What we found was pretty bloody awesome.

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The home of the Winnipeg Jets can be described in a single word. Sweet. Contrary to what Edmonton Downtown Arena haters would have you believe, the convenience of a central arena is fantastic. Right on Portage in the epicenter of town, the 15,015 seat facility is getting ready for the return of NHL hockey at light speed.

Half the arena is currently under construction. They are doubling the size of the press box to make room for all the media types that will be descending on the City with regularity. The luxury boxes are getting a facelift too, as companies paying NHL prices will sit in brand new unobstructed luxury. And the dressing rooms are getting the old once over, preparing to house the team that will own the hearts and minds of Winnipegers long before they kick off the season.

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Concerns about the relatively small size of the arena – long referred to as too small for NHL hockey – have since been squashed. With the American economy headed towards the toilet at dizzying speed, the capacity of your arena has taken a back seat to how many people are actually willing to show up and pay to watch the ice hockeys.

Though on the building may be on the smaller side, the Jets have been able to command top dollar for their tickets and look to be on rock solid financial footing with the ownership duo of Mark Chipman and David Thomson at the helm.


The idea that naming the Winnipeg team the Jets would result in less apparel sales can be punched squarely in the face and kicked out of the room. You can’t swing a cat without hitting a new Jets t-shirt or hat squarely in the face here on the streets of Winnipeg.

Drunkenly talking to Winnipegers of all shapes and sizes has been a treat. People here are unbelievably pumped to see the team return and are already ripping apart the Thrashers roster with an expert eye that only hockey starved Canadians can provide.

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When the team was formally announced as returning to Winnipeg, the City had to shut down Portage Avenue to facilitate the impromptu parade. We were assured by several folks that ‘opening night of the season will shut the City down and it will be like a Stanley Cup parade right out of the gate.’

When season tickets were made available to the general public, the Ticketmaster website reported 248,000 hits for Jets tickets in the first 17 seconds. You read that correctly, it took all of 17 seconds to sell out the season tickets and despite the fact that ticket holders were forced into a multi-year contract just to get season seats, there is now an 8,000 person waiting list for tickets.

What a difference 15 years makes.


The state of the arena may be important, but the night time fun is even more crucial. In the name of research we went out on the town four nights in a row demanding entry to the finest clubs in Winnipeg. Once inside, we laid our A game down on Winnipeg’s finest women, with varying degrees of success.

Without a doubt, the party scene in Winnipeg is awesome. There are a plethora of clubs within walking distance in the downtown core, the best of which is the hilariously named Whisky Dix. Located in a mega old bank building the two level club also has one of the sickest patios we had ever seen until we visited the Tavern just down the street from the MTS Centre. Sporting a rooftop patio that must seat at least 150 people, these two clubs dispensed various libations until their 3 AM closing time.

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Everyone that we met was beside themselves with excitement for the start of the NHL season. Some claimed that ‘all the love will die off when the Jets fail to score on their first power play’ but we have a hard time believing that is the case.


Watching the tortured courtship of the Phoenix Coyotes from afar was heart wrenching for any red blooded Canadian hockey fan. When the Jets left town in 1996, we were convinced our beloved Edmonton Oilers were only minutes away from following suit and heading South of the border. Fortunately that was not the case and the Oil stayed put.

15 years later Winnipeg has an NHL hockey team again. It was a million-to-one shot that had more to do with the economic turmoil in the US thank anything else but this City knows what it has on it’s hands and is ready to rock.

Go Jets. Good on you Winnipeg.

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  • An actual adult entertainment district surrounding an up-to-date arena, bars that don’t start playing old Sinatra songs at 2:05 and multiple roof-top patios.

    Wanye, you have conclusively proven Winnipeg is cooler than Edmonton.

    You sonofa…

  • Deep Oil

    So is this article promoting the fact that a winnipeg billionaire fronted 70% of the money for this downtown project, party party right WANYE…..

    I am wondering how our Edmonton (ahem) billionaire fronting Rexall Sports is putting in 25% or less to operate a rink that will not pay any property tax, and the city will be on the hook for cost overuns, while surrending all profit to Rexall Sports.

    Correct me if I am wrong, if the Katz group puts in $100 million, and acquires the naming and beer rights, over 35 years, could it be argued that the actual dollars (interest excluded) would equal the investment of the Katz group, nice shell game.

    Great article WANYE, on how a real billionaire steps forward and take profit out of his rink, rather than sucking on the tit of the taxpayer.

    On the flip side, Rexall Sports venture capitalist firm AEG just moved forward on a 1.2 billion stadium with no public money to support the building of the stadium. $125 million of city bonds was approved for the related demolition costs of the area next to Staples Center.




    The MTS Centre will cost $133.5 million. The MTS Centre Project group will contribute about 70% of this or $93 million.


    The Government of Canada, The Province of Manitoba and The City of Winnipeg will contribute about 30% or $40.5 million. For every two private- sector dollars, there will be less than one dollar of public- sector investment.

    As part of the Business Plan, The MTS Centre Project Group will own and operate the new entertainment centre and the Manitoba Moose.

    • Hurrah! Deep Oil is back. Is there any limit to the good news we are getting these days? They are also building a new CFL stadium here (it’s underway) so while the rest of us sit around talking about doing stuff WPG is putting shovels in the ground and putting us to shame.

      • Deep Oil

        WANYE, it appears Winnipeg has a get it done attitude with Asper receiving a $90 million bridge financing LOAN from the MB government, his investment was $137 million into the project.

        Rexall Sports and Mayor Mandel are looking to see how they can legally move funds from peter to paul.

        When will Rexall Sports stop interfering with MLA ethics and come up with their own cash, rather than breaching the trust of elected officials via the Paula Simons Story…..


    • Speaking of biased, Katz is putting in $100M cash up front plus $125M in ticket tax money (revenue foregone), which by rough calculation is 50% of the proposed arena costs. That’s on top of the $100M he’s promised for the surrounding district’s development.

      Of course maybe there’s nothing wrong with crack shacks, gravel parking lots and Winnipeg kicking our collective asses as an alternative, right?

      • Deep Oil

        So David S, do the Oiler fans get 25% dividend cheque in return for their “sheep” fee, noting this is a no money down personal seat license with no equity, fans get hosed.

        At least if Rexall Sports charged a PSL, up front and partnered with ATB on a progressive conservative low – zero interest rate, the Oiler season ticket holders would actually own title to their seats.

        To raise $125 million – the average cost of $2000 for blues, 7000 reds, 10 000 golds and 15 000 per seat in the suites.

        Your argument that the ticket tax is a contribution from Rexall Sports is a non starter.

        In the spirit of free enterprise, how about an auction of all seats at Rexall 2 – shovels can start next week.

        • Ah yes. The return of the PSL argument. My over-under was three posts. I guess it collects the money up front, but is it too rich for our customer base? Rather, why not an amortization over the projected life of the facility paid by every ticket holder for every event, not just Oilers SSH’s?

          And whether you agree or not, the fact is a ticket tax is revenue that otherwise could be collected by Katz. Some dude on the internets calling it a “non-starter” doesn’t change economic realities. Nor are ticket taxes unique. They’re quite common in fact.

          • Also, the ticket tax($125M) is being fronted by the Katz group with no intention at this time of them asking for a interest free loan. The Katz group then collects the money as it comes in. The city is not fronting the cash and Katz paying back as collected. As for his $100M cash, its said 80-90M will be right away to cover construction costs as they accumulate. This also provides the city with more time to budget funds properly. Likely a yr to 1.5

          • #94 sized hole where my heart used to be...

            my brain hurts…. can we go baack to debating whether we should trade gagner or not? or how bout that nugent-hopkins kid, think he’ll make the team??? ….eh? …anybody?……

    • City will be on the hook for cost overuns? No thanks. Not from what Ive read. Please show something that states this? Ive seen where project costs GUARANTEED to be $450M.

      Also, if you delve deeper into the WPG arena, in Jan or so they increased their VLT revenue given to TN and locked in their committment for like 20-30 yrs(dont quote me cause i looked awhile ago, but it was like $90M lifetime cost). This was to “help with financing costs”. There is another subsidy they’re providing, dont remember the name but they were all on CBC. You can google it

      Small cities pay more than big ones do. Edmonton is a small city. Youre trying to compare it to LA? California alone I believe is in the top 10 largest economies in the world.

      Thats fine if you dont believe money should be given but trying to portray WPGs deal as better than Edms is ridiculous. Edm has a one time cost. KISS (Keep it simple stupid)

      4 weeks/yr use at no cost and guaranteed investment around the area? Horrible. No worries about maintenance, upgrades, renovations for 35 years, youre right, sounds dumb. Lets just build a rink in No Jack, AB. Would be fitting, no?

      • Deep Oil

        Actually, a rink located in Enoch – River Cree courtesy of the federal government, I mean Indian Affairs (creates aboriginal jobs right) would just be easier, noting you would have to walk through the casino to enter the arena.

        I just love it when wannabe billionaires look for deeper pockets and leak it to the media.

        The kicker….. people at Lewis Estates would see their property values drop, and not have a legal leg to stand on…..

        Hello Henday, completed just in time for puck drop.

        • That is such a waste of money. Whats the point in going to the RC?? Henday still wont be able to handle that volume, its also in the middle of nowhere…….AGAIN! Im open to hearing different ways to finance this pig but if you put it outside of DT, even Charlie Sheen would think we’re a bunch of idiots

          • Deep Oil

            Hey Broadway, RC is dumb, dumb, dumb (no real estate play, no public transit – LRT) but when you have no pot to piss in…. you make dumb decisions, or get desperate and start interfering with MLA’s ethics and practises, and leak your pow wow with the chiefs to the SUN for sky is falling leverage.

            Remember, the feds give Indian Affairs billions of dollars each year with very little accountability, very sad.

          • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

            Dearest Deep Oil,


            Kindest Regards,

            Common Sense

            P.S.- How about you toss your real name out with these posts to put some credibility behind what you say? Concerned about having a bunch of anonymous folks on the interweb picking you apart? Funny how that works isnt it?

  • Deep Oil

    Wanye, I hope you don’t delete my post, editing is
    fair if you slander or use excessive profanity. But in a recent radio ga ga post, it appears the author deleted the information, not cool when the someone takes their ball and goes home. It was suggested that maybe your contract writers have their editing and deleting priveleges removed, otherwise Oilers Nation is a biased blog.

    • To keep all writers happy we have given them access to their own commentary. I wouldn’t be too concerned about becoming a biased blog. I certainly welcome all of your comments on my articles and have a great deal of respect for the level of thought you put into your comments.

  • #94 sized hole where my heart used to be...

    How much longer before Bettman and hs flunkies come to the realization that U.S. economy is dead in the water and is headed for a recession the likes of which we have not seen in a generation. There will be more seats in places like Pheonix and in Long Island than you can shake a stick at.The people of the Long Island have spoken and spoken loudly.No money for an arena or anything else. The faster they build the Arena in Quebec City the faster there will be a team in Q.C.. If I am Gary Bettman I would be making dinner plans with Jim Balsille and discussing plans for that Southern Ontario Franchise sooner than later. I look forward to Winnipeg rejoining our happy little family. Bettman is going to eat crow as more and more american franchises head north to the promised land. Pheonix is dead in the water. Its time. Hamilton get ready. Your on the clock.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    It’s great to have NHL hockey back in Winnipeg again but if the dollar ever hits that 70 cent US mark again Ottawa,Winnipeg,Calgary and Edmonton will all be hanging on by a thread again.

    • History shows us this will happen again.

      I think Katz is looking at this for the long term secruity of the Oilers Franchise, not the next 5yrs.

      You don’t become a billionare by giving away money. You secure your business for the long run.

  • *sigh*

    @ Deep Oil

    Anonymously commenting on the interwebs is the best forum for political discussions? There might be more lofty avenues for dropping hints about the sanctity of freedom of speech.

    I’m just here for the fart jokes though so take what I say with a grain of salt.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Edmonton may be able to use a less is more type of building.

    RX2 could have a lower bowl that could accomodate 10.000 patrons in the seating area, behind the lower bowl there could be 3 floors of luxury suites. First floor would be 15 patron suites, 2nd floor could seat 10 per suite and on the third floor of luxury boxes they could have a 6 person capacity. Revenues from something like this could amount to that of an 18.000 seat arena and be less expensive to build.

    Shutting out the working class in a building like this could also help drive up the price on TV contracts as well, making it a less ticket driven league.

  • Deep Oil

    Deep OIl is back!

    So lets see the argument…MTS centre = $133 mill
    and the rexall centre will be $450 Mill and Katz is putting up $100 mill and $125 mill in ticket tax and your complaining he should be paying more?

    The MTS group is putting up $93 mill which is decidely less than Katz is offering but I guess we could build a tiny rink here for $133 million and he can pay it all …is that what you want.
    Deep Oil its okay to start discussions but at least make it reasonable.

  • @ Deep Oil

    I find your thinly veiled assertions regarding the financial status of a prominent Edmontonian (who has done far more in our community than you ever have) presumptuous, arrogant and misleading to the extreme.

    You continue to do so under an internet alias knowing full-well the target of your rants cannot/will not defend himself. Contrary to what you may think, it doesn’t make you look like some well-placed insider. Rather like some sort of butt-hurt Jersey Shore character.

  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    What the garbage, Wanye? You visited my fair city and failed to crush a few BLs with the likes of yours truly? My office overlooks Tavern’s rooftop patio!

    For shame…

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan


    I’ve been whining about wanting to see more entertaining reads only to get ranted on by Kent (blew up in his face).

    Re: Katz. He’s a businessman trying to leverage himself wisely. Not far off from what entrepreneurs are known for. Put it this way, if it weren’t for Katz, they would have continued to lure the Souray’s of the world, but his patience for a viable long term solution has him confident to start the bidding at 100 million. People should be thankful. Doesn’t mean I like him or his perrenial loser club. Just being realistoc. Eff ypu oilers! LOL

  • Chris.

    As an individual who has lived many years in both cities it always humours me how some Edmontonians like to slag Winnipeg. The two cities are remarkably similar.