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True fans: Over 96 per cent of those eligible renew Jets season tickets

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THE questions have been out there — in Winnipeg and around the NHL — since the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg and became the Jets.

Was the whole episode of the Jets selling all 13,000 available season tickets in about three days just an overbought hysteria that wouldn’t last?

Could the demand possibly remain that high?

The first real answers to those questions are in.

In the first renewal window for Winnipeg Jets seasonticket holders, more than 96 per cent of the approximately 4,300 upper-deck seats in the P6 and P7 group of the MTS Centre have been renewed, True North senior vicepresident of business partnerships and account services Norva Riddell confirmed Friday.

Those sections originally required a three-year commitment back in 2011 and when the renewal window was open between Jan. 14 and Feb. 21, True North offered those customers another three years, or a longer extension up to six years.

Half re-upped for three years and the other half chose terms between four and six years, Riddell said.

"That was surprising," she said Friday about the choice for extra years. "And we are delighted with that. We just didn’t know. Delighted with those results, for sure."

The overall renewal number pleased True North officials, Riddell added.

"Absolutely thrilled," she said.

The results of this first renewal period — seats in the P3, P4 and P5 zones go next year while P1 and P2 come up in 2016 — confirm for True North that Jets fans are eager for these ticket partnerships, Riddell said.

"The partnership with our seatholders is important to us and it’s imperative that the investments we’re making back into the MTS Centre coincide with investments people are making with us," she said.

True North has already started with renovations and upgrades to the MTS Centre, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this fall. The new merchandise store at the north end of the suite concourse is complete and upgrades to washroom space, concession options and crowd flow, costing between $5 and $7 million, will take place on the upper (300) concourse this summer, part of an overall five-year plan to re-invest $30 million in the facility.

This year’s renewal process for P6 and P7 ticket-holders included those who bought half-season packages. The number of those seats is being maintained but are only available in P6 and P7 sections.

The only disappointment in these developments — disappointment being in the eye of the beholder — is this renewal process leaves only about 175 seats to go to current wait-list customers.

From the start of this process in 2011 until now, only about 200 seats have changed hands to those on the 8,000seat wait list.

"Keep in mind the wait list serves two purposes," Riddell said. "One, that you want to purchase Winnipeg Jets season tickets in time, and two, those people still have privileges associated with game-day ticket releases and other benefits... making sure you get information first about events and things like outdoor practices and wait-list customer practices."

 

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Hundreds of fans scream under the canopy at the Forks to celebrate the return of the NHL. (RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 22, 2014 C3

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Updated on Saturday, March 22, 2014 at 12:51 PM CDT: Adds sidebar

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