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We're not going to say 'I told you so,' but...

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Gloating is ugly and not really Manitoban. So to those who suggested NHL hockey in Winnipeg would not work there’s little to say. "You were wrong" is a good start. "Shut up" is a better finish.

True North hit its goal of 13,000 season tickets on Saturday — with just 17 minutes needed once packages were put on the market to the general public.

No need to name names, but there’s been lots of talk in the media about Winnipeg needing a sugar daddy or the league making a mistake moving to a market that wouldn’t be able to generate suitable revenue.

The ignorance and misinformation regarding this city and its potential is astounding and seemingly endless. Let this be a lesson to those who doubt.

Winnipeg and Manitoba are not also-rans.

Randy Carlyle said this to me the other day about Manitobans: "Just don’t tell them they can’t."

Seems Kitty knows a little bit about this place because we just drilled the naysayers right in the lips.

Revenue is the only financial issue that matters in running an NHL franchise and at an average ticket price of $82 the Winnipeg club will generate just north of $54-million in ticket revenue this coming season. That’s before they sell a beer or a board sign or TV ad.

It’s also in the top half of ticket revenue among NHL teams. The smallest building in the smallest market in the league will make more money off ticket sales than half the teams in the NHL. Ugly Winnipeg with its cold and its mosquitoes can’t thrive in the NHL. Whatever.

When we got our chance, we delivered. Big time. This has been a week of triumphs around here. First for True North and now for the people of this city and province. Both were called upon and both answered with swift assuredness.

Commissioner Gary Bettman will take that message to New York on June 21 and ask the NHL’s board of governors to vote on the conditional sale of the Atlanta Thrashers and franchise relocation to Winnipeg.

The vote will take about 30 seconds, after which Mark Chipman will be introduced to the rest of the board as its newest member. Our days of pressing our noses up against the window are over. We’re in. End of story.

There’s also a little something to be said to those who suggested the MTS Centre was too small at 15,000 seats and pushed the theory as NHL talks heated up in this city.

Again, "you’re wrong," sums it up nicely.

The scarcity of tickets for NHL hockey in Winnipeg will guarantee sellouts for a long time. Don’t be surprised if the same thing that happened in Minnesota, where the Wild sold out for a decade upon returning to the NHL, takes place here.

Tickets to NHL hockey in Winnipeg will be among the most difficult to get in North American professional sports. The building size may be the key to the franchise’s long-term viability. Supply and demand is a simple concept but not always achievable. True North moves to the front of the class in marketing. Their product is hard to get. That’s a good thing.

It will allow True North to have revenue certainty and to do their job in building and managing the franchise.

They’ll have money and be able to spend it, making sure the on-ice product lives up to the expectations of the public.

True North did its part getting the franchise and now the people have done theirs by picking up the torch and selling the building out for years to come.

Finally we can move on.

Let the games begin.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

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About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and www.winnipegfreepress.com
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.

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