True North Sports & Entertainment will embark on a multi-million-dollar upgrade to the upper bowl concourse of the MTS Centre this summer, part of the biggest renovation to the home of the Winnipeg Jets since the building opened more than nine years ago.
The first moves will be adding 4,000 square feet of space at the northeast, southeast and southwest corners by knocking down some walls and "infilling" the balconies all the way to the outer walls of the 300 level, increasing the washroom facilities and improving the food and beverage services.
The timing is no accident. The three-year commitment for the slightly more than 6,000 seats in the P6 and P7 sections expire at the end of this season.
"Our intentions are long term and significant in terms of reinvestment and fan experience. That’s what we’re all about," said Jim Ludlow, True North’s president and CEO.
Dubbed "True North 2020," the major reinvestment plan driving the evolution of the MTS Centre is expected to cost between $20 million and $30 million and be completed over six years.
Hockey fans will likely have noticed one change already – a just-completed vestibule at the Portage Avenue and Donald Street doors, which controls the climate at the main entrance.
Ludlow said based on the responses True North received to a recent questionnaire sent to upper bowl season ticket holders, he expects a high percentage of renewals.
"We’re also mindful that we have a wait list. There is lots of demand (for season tickets). We’d like to have a healthy balance of renewals and provide some opportunity to the wait list, as well," he said.
The survey results also indicated the need for the other changes, particularly the washrooms.
The number of men’s toilets and urinals in the upper concourse will more than double from 36 to 75 and increase from 44 to 57 for women.
"We’ve listened, we’ve heard and we’ve learned. We’re taking these suggestions very seriously," Ludlow said.
Season ticket holders who plan to renew their seats must indicate their intentions online by Feb. 21 and complete their ticket purchase agreement renewal by Feb. 28. Renewal ticket price increases have been capped at 2.5 per cent for the 2014-15 season.
Unlike the "Drive to 13,000," the season ticket campaign that kicked off after True North purchased the Atlanta Thrashers in May 2011, fans have options beyond signing on for another three years. They can renew for a fourth, fifth or sixth year and receive Jets Points as part of the team’s newly minted loyalty program.
Season ticket holders should watch their inboxes for emails outlining the renewal process, Ludlow said.
This summer’s construction is scheduled to take about 90 days and will be completed around its summer event calendar.
"Our intention is to have this project finished, functional and operational by the drop of the puck next season," Ludlow said.
Improvements will be made to the 100 and 200 levels over the course of the six years, he said.