Local News

Winnipeg Jets owner calms fans amid attendance concerns, assures future stability

Winnipeg Jets fans finally have some answers after a week of turmoil over the NHL team’s future in Winnipeg.

Five days ago, Jets chairperson Mark Chipman said current season ticket sale numbers were “not going to work over the long haul,” with the team’s season ticket base dropping by 27 per cent in three years. But, Tuesday night, National Hockey League (NHL) commissioner Gary Bettman sent a different message, saying there’s nothing to worry about.

“I know there was skeptics and critics suggesting doom and gloom. I don’t buy that. We believe in this market and this is a great place for hockey. It’s a great place for an NHL team,” he said.

Just hours after Bettman’s comments, the Jets secured a 4-2 win over the St. Louis Blues.

On Wednesday, Chipman defended his comments to 680CJOB, and said the situation isn’t dire.

“Look, if I’ve alarmed people, I apologize, that wasn’t my intent at all,” he said.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world
sent to your email, as it happens.

“We are the smallest market by far (and) we compete against large markets. Those markets have the opportunity to get far more revenue than us,” he said.

“We knew this going in. That’s what I love about what we do, is that knowing all of that, we still get to compete. I have to say I’m proud of how we’ve done that. I learned yesterday that since the year we started this, there’s no other market in Canada whose fans have watched more wins at home than our fans have.”

After a week of ups and downs, Michael Naraine, associate professor of sport management at Brock University, said the Jets’ ticket struggles might be real, but as long as the NHL’s TV deals and corporate sponsorships remain healthy, the team should be just fine.

“Those are the two big revenue generators. Ticket sales definitely matter, don’t get me wrong, and the optics of having an empty building or lack of season ticket holders support doesn’t look great. But that being said, the Jets are a fairly stable organization,” he said.

“Gary Bettman does not want to see a failed franchise in Canada. It looks bad for — not just the Winnipeg story, having the Jets leave and then come back, and then potentially having them leave again — but it’s bad for the other owners in the NHL,” he said, adding that the NHL doesn’t want to relocate the team.

Chipman doesn’t want that either.

As a Winnipegger and local businessman who is deeply invested in his city, he wants to see the Jets thrive.

“Long-term health (and) long-term competitiveness — that’s what we’re trying to achieve. We have never done this for any other reason but to be a source of pride for our community,” he said.

— with files from Global’s Teagan Rasche

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *