Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

They shoot, they don't score

Disappointed fans complain about process

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The waiting is the hardest part.

Tom Petty sang it and it's never sounded more true for the thousands of hockey fans in these parts who were shut out Saturday afternoon in their bid to land one of the 13,000 season tickets put on sale online through the website

Complaints were instantaneous as fans moaned about not being able to complete transactions in time before the 13,000 number was achieved.

One reader emailed the Free Press and suggested "Ticketmaster is broken" while others moaned about the process, the three-day exclusivity to Manitoba Moose faithful and being shut out of the opportunity to watch the return of the NHL this fall.

One small consolation: Because of the tremendous demand, True North established a membership-only waiting list for tickets and 8,000 people plunked down a $50 non-refundable deposit per seat before that number was also capped at 8,000.

In a press release, True North outlined the waiting-list benefits as:

-- 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 per cent discount at the Team Store.

-- Email notification when tickets are made available through Ticketmaster for sold-out games.

At the start of season two, a $100 annual membership fee will be due 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.

The fact the tickets disappeared so quickly on Saturday and the waiting list was capped prompted three questions of True North president and CEO Jim Ludlow.

1. What do you say to those critical of the policy to allow Manitoba Moose season-ticket and mini-pack holders, along with corporate partners, three days of exclusivity before sales opened to the general public?

Ludlow: "You always say in this business, 'Dance with the one who brung you.' It was important to recognize they were people who had been supporters and fans of ours over the past seven years."

2. Do you wish now the MTS Centre was bigger, as some had suggested initially when it was constructed?

Ludlow: "We have a hockey building here with a hockey bowl. It wasn't developed for two sports franchises like basketball or hockey. The bowl is hockey-shaped and 15,000 provides an intimate environment for everybody and 15,000 provides scarcity in the model. I think 15,000 to 16,000 is an ideal building for the NHL, frankly, and particularly for our market."

3. What do you say of the criticism some fans who scored tickets will now just turn around and sell them on eBay or Kijiji?

Ludlow: "First of all, that's not legal in Manitoba and we don't condone unsanctioned secondary markets. Scalping is illegal. But that's not what this is all about. I guess our blanket statement for all of that is everybody should be cautious in the secondary market. We don't condone it and it's hard to even think about that right now. But it does exist in the real world."



True North to-do list:


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 5, 2011 A3

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