WINNIPEG - So today’s the day we find out exactly how hockey-mad this town really is.
Now that the NHL pre-sale for Manitoba Moose customers is over, Joe Public gets his turn.
Expect the remaining season tickets to go faster than cans of bug spray at a midsummer Manitoba nudists retreat.
Even though fans are being asked to do something no other NHL fans have been: mortgage a small part of their futures to watch big-league hockey.
You may not be aware of this, but in no other city are all season-ticket buyers forced to make multi-year commitments.
If you want to guarantee your seats, you have to sign three-year to five-year contracts and hand over an additional $500 to $1,000 just for that right. When the term is up, expect to be asked to sign up for another.
Yes, the little city that for so long couldn’t is believed to be breaking new ground, now that it’s getting a second chance to reside in Gary Bettman’s kingdom.
“My guess would be if there are any clubs doing it, they’re doing it in certain sections of the building (only),” True North Sports and Entertainment’s Jim Ludlow told QMI Agency.
“As it relates to the entire building, it’s unique. And creative. And a strong message that’s going to go back to the NHL.”
Who knows, this might even set a precedent for other cities.
Then again, it could be the price Manitobans, and nobody else, must pay to prove we can afford to rub shoulders with the big boys on Broadway or Bay Street.
“You could look at it as a lot to ask,” Ludlow said. “It’s a lot to ask a community like this to have an NHL team, or a company like this.”
But it’s what True North needs to guarantee its revenue for at least the first few years.
If the season-ticket count hits 13,000 within days, maybe even hours, as I suspect it will, we’ll know what we’ve suspected for a while now.
That the appetite for NHL hockey in this town is at a fever pitch.
Maybe unlike anywhere else in North America.
So how would you like to be Jeff Thompson these days?
The man making corporate calls on behalf of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and our new stadium has to phone businesses in this town and sell something other than the NHL.
So how’s it going, Jeff?
“They’re excited and eager to continue,” Thompson said of the Bombers’ corporate partners. “The level of excitement surrounding us is electric. It’s a great time to be a Winnipegger.”
Apparently, nobody’s telling the Bombers their money is tied up downtown for the next while.
“We have two different products at two different times of the year,” Thompson said. “If anything, we actually compliment each other. That’s the vibe we’re getting.”
Not sure if Thompson was wearing his blue-and-gold coloured glasses at the time, but he also suggested the mosquitoes wouldn’t be a problem this summer and neither would the rain.
Seriously, I suppose it’s even possible the hockey team will get turned down by the odd corporate client who’s committed to buying space in the stadium.
“I hear what you’re saying,” True North’s Ludlow said. “None of us want it to be one to the exclusion of another. The seasons are different. We hope to find a balance in the community for that.”
The Bombers should be fine as long as they run a tight ship.
And that means they can’t go another 20 years, not even close, without winning a championship.
Those of us who were around for the NHL’s first run have fond memories of the two-sport double-header: a Bomber game on an October afternoon, a Jets game at night.
If both teams are winning, we’ll rediscover how sports-mad this town can be.