Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Reborn Jets a success off the ice

Rank high in per-game revenue

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PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- The building is jammed every night, merchandise is flying off the shelves and the buzz around the Winnipeg Jets is still electric.

And so, not surprisingly, business is very good with Winnipeg's reborn National Hockey League franchise.

Just how good? On a comparative scale, consider this:

Toronto radio host Bob McCown reported this week on Prime Time Sports the Jets are ranked in the Top 10 among NHL teams in terms of per-game revenue, while Doug MacLean -- the former Florida Panthers coach and Columbus Blue Jackets GM, also now with Sportsnet -- stated his sources have the Jets in the Top 15.

Both suggested those numbers are revealing, not just because Winnipeg is the NHL's smallest market but because of what it says of the state of some of the franchises struggling in the United States.

Jets governor Mark Chipman opted not to comment on the report -- hardly surprising given NHL teams generally guard their financial results like state secrets.

The math, however, is easy. With an average ticket price of approximately $82 and a capacity of 15,004 at the MTS Centre, Winnipeg's per-game number on tickets alone is well north of $1 million.

Despite playing in the league's smallest venue, the Jets have played to 100 per cent capacity and rank 25th in official league attendance, ahead of Columbus, Anaheim, Dallas, the New York Islanders and Phoenix.

As well, the Jets are apparently ranked No. 2 in merchandise sales among all NHL teams while all of the suites at MTS Centre are sold out for the next few years.

The per-game revenue status, however, should not be confused with a team's total revenue number, which is used to determine what, if any, revenue sharing a franchise is entitled to under the current CBA.

To qualify for a full share in that department, a payment from the NHL in excess of $10 million per season, a team must meet attendance targets set by the league (about 14,000), other revenue targets, still be in the bottom 15 of the league in total revenues and be in a market of less than 2.5 million.

It's designed to help smaller-market clubs -- who have fewer corporate and business opportunities -- compete with the mega-market teams of the league, and sources have said in recent conversations that Winnipeg's status as a revenue-sharing team is not in jeopardy.

 

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 1, 2012 D2

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