Hockey fans in this province have spoken loudly and clearly with their hearts. And now -- most importantly for Winnipeg’s new NHL franchise – they’ve stepped up with their wallets.
True North Sports and Entertainment’s ‘Drive to 13,000’ season-ticket campaign lasted less than 72 hours as the last tickets were claimed within 17 minutes of Saturday’s noon opening to the general public. By shortly after 2 p.m., a ticket waiting list had been capped at 8,000 people.
The pre-sale set aside exclusively for Manitoba Moose season-ticket and mini-pack holders and corporate sponsors reached 7,158 by Friday afternoon with the remaining 5,842 commitments gobbled up quickly not long after the on-line window opened.
"It’s a testament to everybody in the city and we owe a lot to our fans in the city, this province and across Canada because we had people buying from across Canada," said Jim Ludlow, President & CEO, True North Sports & Entertainment.
"It’s a very, very powerful message that goes out throughout North America to 29 other NHL cities. (Commissioner) Gary Bettman has issued a statement as to the power of this marketplace.
"Many of us are beyond words to explain what’s happened in the past three or four days. This was one of the most anticipated on-sales that we’ve had in our history in Winnipeg so we did have a sense Winnipeggers would push through this very, very quickly."
"While I had no doubt the 'Drive to 13,000' would reach its destination, the remarkable speed at which it got there certifies the fans' hunger for NHL hockey and their commitment to True North's initiatives," wrote NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in an e-mail to The Free Press.
Season-ticket commitments, made through the www.driveto13.com website and requiring $500 to 1,000 deposits for commitments of three, four or five years, were capped at 13,000. That will leave fewer than 1,000 tickets available on a per game basis to the general public as the luxury boxes take an additional 1,000 seats while the NHL requires a few hundred seats be set aside for players and their families as well as league executives.
True North announced Saturday they would also be starting an official ‘membership only’ based waiting list for tickets. The waiting list, capped by mid-afternoon, features the following:
- Priority access to purchase Stanley Cup playoff ticket packages in advance of the general public, subject to availability.
- Invitation to a select Ticket Holder event during the 2011-12 hockey season.
- 15% discount at the Team Store
- Email notification when tickets are made available through Ticketmaster for sold out games.
Membership on the waiting list entails:
- A one-time non-refundable deposit of $50 per seat is required (maximum of four seats) to join the waiting list. This amount is not applied against any future purchase.
- At the beginning of season two, a $100 annual membership fee will be due each season in order to retain membership on the waiting list. All membership fees collected and accumulated annually will be applied to the eventual ticket package as long as the membership is retained. Membership fees are otherwise non-refundable.
- Members will receive priority seat numbers (based on the number of seats they choose) indicating their priority position. Each season, renewed members will receive an updated number as there will be accounts that will have the opportunity to purchase ticket packages and others that do not renew their waiting list membership.
- Position on the waiting list is non-transferable, other than within immediate family.
Reaching the 13,000 threshold gives True North both a degree of financial certainty in the first five years of the franchise, but, in the immediate future, essentially means the NHL’s Board of Governors will rubber stamp the franchise relocation from Atlanta when they gather for meetings on June 21 in New York.