WINNIPEG - Rumours surrounding Winnipeg’s NHL franchise will likely have to stick to players, executives and the team’s name, rather than the size of its arena.
Team owner True North Sports and Entertainment is intent on quashing any and all speculation that it plans to expand MTS Centre beyond the facility’s approximately 15,000 seats — to allow for more season-ticket sales, or for any other reason.
While True North spokesman Scott Brown said Tuesday it might not be impossible to expand the seating capacity, it’s “absolutely not” in the company’s plans — at least not in any significant way.
“There are no plans to expand the arena. And that would be almost impossible to do, especially to add something like 2,500 seats or anything like has been rumoured,” Brown told the Winnipeg Sun. “We will look at adding some seats in areas where it’s possible in the near future, but we’re talking about 100 or something like that.”
He declined to specify possible ways to add a moderate number of seats, when it could happen or potential locations in the building where that could be done, “just because it hasn’t really been fully explored.”
Brown pointed out, as well, that though some “seat kills” will remove a small capacity in order to make room for television cameras and other broadcast amenities, True North will find ways to add seats elsewhere to compensate.
Other changes in the works include alterations to the arena’s private suites to hike the number of the boxes to 55 from 48 in time for the 2011-12 NHL season, and an expansion of the press box to allow for an increase to about 150 seats from 60.
The work on the suites hasn’t yet begun, but Brown said “there’s a schedule for all the construction that will need to go on in the rink. We’re comfortable that it will all get done on schedule.”
He declined to speculate on the costs of the retrofits.
“Even if I knew that, which I don’t,” he said, “I wouldn’t share that type of stuff.”
DOES SIZE MATTER?
The largest and smallest of the NHL’s 30 arenas, in terms of seating capacity:
1. Montreal’s Bell Centre - 21,273
2. Chicago’s United Center - 20,500
3. Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena - 20,066
28. Edmonton’s Rexall Place - 16,839
29. Long Island’s Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum - 16,234
30. Winnipeg’s MTS Centre - 15,003