Winnipeg has size and wealth to support NHL franchise

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:51 AM ET

Another prominent voice is in Winnipeg’s corner when it comes to the pursuit of an NHL franchise.

In an article on hot topics in economics, Conference Board of Canada director Mario Lefebvre said Winnipeg, Quebec City and Hamilton all deserve NHL franchises because they have the “four pillars necessary to the success of a professional sports organization.”

Lefebvre says those pillars are 1) the size of the market; 2) the wealth of the market; 3) a sound corporate presence; 4) a level playing field.

The director for the Centre for Municipal Studies says Winnipeg’s population is adequate to support a team and the city actually has a higher income per capita than Montreal (and on par with Vancouver). He goes on to say that Winnipeg has more large corporations than both Ottawa and Edmonton, cities that currently have NHL franchises.

Finally, Lefebvre points to the strong Canadian dollar as a means of levelling the playing field, a situation which did not exist when the Winnipeg Jets and Quebec Nordiques struggled to make ends meet during the 1990s. He said the Conference Board of Canada expects the loonie will stay at par with the U.S. dollar for the foreseeable future.

Winnipeg lost its NHL team when the Jets moved to Phoenix in 1996. Manitoba Moose owner Mark Chipman and business partner David Thomson have been in discussions to move the Phoenix Coyotes to the 15,000-seat MTS Centre, but it appears a deal may be completed to keep the team in Arizona.


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