Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Jets limit tickets to wait-list fans

Team calls it a loyalty perk; regular buyer calls it offside

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Getting in to see Evander Kane and the Jets just got more complicated.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Getting in to see Evander Kane and the Jets just got more complicated. Photo Store

The Winnipeg Jets have changed the rules for those trying to get into NHL games at the MTS Centre with tickets from their resale ticket-exchange website.

In the team's first two seasons back in the league, any season-ticket holders could sell their seats through the official exchange site to anyone who was searching for tickets there.

As they opened their 8,000-place waiting list Friday -- about 1,400 spaces were available when the process began -- the Jets announced that in the future, it will be a perk for waiting-list customers only to buy tickets through the exchange website.

"Our goal was to give back to these people on our paid waiting list, many people who have been with us two or three years now," Jets director of ticket administration Mitch Brennan said Friday. "Those people have been very loyal to us for a few years and in listening to what many of those customers said they wanted, it's a perk we wanted to give back to them."

'We like the ticket-exchange site because you never had to worry... I think what they're doing now is very unfair' -- regular Jets exchange customer Nicole Steinhubl

The initial fee is a non-refundable $50 per seat to join the waiting list, then every subsequent summer, it's $100 to stay on the list, with that annual fee applied to any eventual season-ticket purchase.

Previously, those waiting-list customers received discounts on merchandise, access to MTS Centre event ticket offers, an invitation to the exclusive Winnipeg Jets wait-list open practice and access to some box-office last-minute ticket availability.

By now restricting the official ticket-exchange website to waiting-list customers, the team many be sending potential ticket buyers to other unauthorized resellers, websites or even scalpers.

The move won't be popular with some past regular customers who acquired tickets through the official exchange site.

"I wasn't on the waiting list and now I'll have to go on in order to get tickets and that costs extra money," said rabid Jets fan and regular exchange site customer Nicole Steinhubl. "My brother and I have gone to a lot of games that way, him even more than me. We'll probably have to get on the waiting list, otherwise there's not going to be any other way to get tickets without big risk.

"We like the ticket-exchange site because you never had to worry. It was nice and easy, you just had to be watching the site, be dedicated, and you could get tickets. You don't know what you're getting elsewhere.

"I think what they're doing now is very unfair."

Brennan said the team has heard that objection but is confident the number of tickets that actually change hands through the official exchange site, compared to the overall number of tickets available for Jets games, "is not really moving the needle."

"We're not really concerned about that because of the number of tickets you're talking about," he said. "We're not talking about taking thousands of tickets out of the market and offering them to another subset of persons.

"We're not altering the marketplace that greatly. We certainly don't foresee any (unofficial) resale prices skyrocketing. There is demand, no matter which way you look at it, and the supply-demand numbers here are tilted very strongly one way and remain so.

"We're not taking away a great supply to anyone in the general public... People are still looking to go to the StubHubs and others."

Brennan said the Jets were thrilled at their wait-list renewal of well more than 6,000 seats and as of late Friday, some places were still available.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 17, 2013 C5

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