Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/12/2015 (498 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
NEVER before in the history of Winnipeg have so many people paid for a ticket to a professional sporting event over a 12-month period.
For the first time ever, we have two professional hockey teams, the Winnipeg Jets and the Manitoba Moose, one football squad, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, one baseball team, the Winnipeg Goldeyes, plus we had seven games of the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup and the 103rd Grey Cup a couple of weeks ago.
For the sake of argument, let's use April 15 as the starting point of the Year of the Fan, in which more than 1.7 million people paid to watch a professional sporting event in Winnipeg.
Let's do some math, shall we?
The Jets played their first-ever playoff games at the MTS Centre since their 2011 relocation on April 20 and 22, so that's 30,032 for starters.
A few weeks later, soccer took over. The U.S. team was a huge draw for FIFA, both at Investors Group Field and the city's economy in general. There were 31,148 fans for two games on June 8, including a 3-1 U.S. victory over Australia, 32,716 for two games on June 12, including a 0-0 tie between Sweden and the U.S., 26,191 for two matches in which Germany shut out Thailand 4-0 and China tied New Zealand 2-2 on June 15 and 14,522 for a single game on June 16.
That's another 194,632.
The Bombers averaged 26,745 fans for nine games this past season, plus 24,344 for one exhibition tilt, for a total of 265,049. There were 36,634 people in the stands to see the Edmonton Eskimos beat the Ottawa Redblacks in the Grey Cup, bringing the total of football fans to 301,683.
The Goldeyes had the second-best attendance in the American Association last season with an average of 5,284 butts in the chairs for 49 games, making a total of 258,916.
Thanks to some renovations to the MTS Centre during the summer, the capacity for hockey expanded to 15,294. With 41 sold-out home dates for the Winnipeg Jets, plus another four in the pre-season, 688,230 will take in an NHL game this season.
The Manitoba Moose, returning to Winnipeg for the first time since the 2010-11 season, are averaging slightly more than 7,000 fans per game. If that continues over the course of their 38 home dates, they'll bring in a total of 266,000.
So, for all the games held at the MTS Centre, Investors Group Field and Shaw Park from April 15, 2015 to April 15, 2016, some 1,739,493 people will have passed through the gates, or an average of more than two games per person for every Winnipegger.
That tops the previous high of 1.3 million tickets sold for Jets, Bombers and Goldeyes games in 2011-12.
Could this record be broken? It's possible but unlikely. Neither the Bombers, Goldeyes or Moose are at capacity, but even if they increase their fan bases, it would be very difficult to overcome the loss of seven FIFA soccer games plus the Grey Cup.
The best chance of topping 1.7 million would be if the Jets went on a prolonged run in the playoffs. If they made it all the way to the Stanley Cup finals, they could get from 12 to 16 home games, depending on seeding. At 12 games, that would mean an other 183,000 in paid attendance.
If the Moose added 3,000 more fans for 38 games, that would add another 114,000 to the total, excluding playoff games.
If the Bombers then sold out every game, which would mean another 8,500 fans for nine games and then hosted a playoff game, that would add another 111,500 to the total, not including a pre-season game.
If the Goldeyes followed suit and sold out all 49 of their dates, that would add another 102,900, plus more if they were to make the playoffs.
The confluence of those events would be enough to crack two million. So, if our teams can gel at the same time and we continue to open our wallets at the same pace we did this year, another record could be reached.
Beyond that, we'd need to revive the Winnipeg Thunder (basketball) and Winnipeg Fury (soccer), and score a professional lacrosse team.
Anybody want to place a call to Mark Chipman or David Thomson?