‘No purse’ policy irks Jets fans


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Long lines snaking into the downtown arena should move quicker Wednesday night than they did for the Winnipeg Jets' first pre-season game Sunday.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/09/2021 (549 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Long lines snaking into the downtown arena should move quicker Wednesday night than they did for the Winnipeg Jets’ first pre-season game Sunday.

Many fans waited as long as 25 minutes to filter into Canada Life Centre, owing to COVID-19 regulations and increased security measures — including a new bag policy that has already drawn criticism — prior to the Jets 3-2 overtime defeat to the Ottawa Senators.

True North Sports & Entertainment has vowed to speed things up for the NHL team’s second pre-season contest, set for 7 p.m. against the Edmonton Oilers.

“Eighteen minutes is what we were seeing at all four corner (entrances) and it spiked to 25 to get in. Typically, we are six minutes at peak, so we know where we have to get to — and we’ll get there,” Kevin Donnelly, TNSE senior vice-president of venues and entertainment, said Tuesday.

“But in today’s day and age, with COVID-19 and security requirements, convenience is a casualty of all this kind of stuff.”

The arena doors were opened 60 minutes prior to puck drop Sunday, just as in years past. But far more fans than usual (pre-pandemic in March 2020) showed up an hour before the game, causing delays.

True North will unlock its doors at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

“What we’d seen for years was a couple hundred people right at that one-hour (before) mark. We would have those people cleared and in the building in 90 seconds. But at last Sunday’s game, it was lined up around the block at all doors at an hour prior,” Donnelly said. “Whether people were just eager to get in or mindful of the new QR Code health check, they came early. We’re grateful they came early.

“But we need to do a better job of being ready for them, so by going to 90 minutes we won’t get so far behind the eight-ball like we saw on Sunday. We’ll be able to get people in and keep pace with arrivals. We’ll add staff to get the crowd in faster. It’s one thing when it’s 29 C outside but it won’t be 29 C all season.”

Indeed, part of the delay was the added step of ensuring all fans were double-vaccinated upon entry. But the increase in wait times was also due to a new bag policy, which prohibits bags, purses or backpacks unless they meet a 12-inch by six-inch by 3-inch maximum size requirement.

That’s basically a small purse or clutch.

Objections are being heard at rinks across the league and Winnipeg is no exception. “In reality, this has become a ‘no purse policy’ that largely affects the female population … another example of how so many newly implemented policies don’t consider a huge part of the population,” said one Free Press reader.

Donnelly said the restrictions weren’t conceived by True North.

“The bag restriction comes to us from the NHL, and we try to comply with the deep thinking that comes out of the NHL,” he said. “We do have exemptions — medical exemptions, diaper bags, personal exemptions. If there is something that absolutely needs to go to a seat (with a patron), we’ll direct people to two gates, and (the bag) will get X-rayed and they go through. It has to be a legitimate medical requirement.”

True North is also occupying space (the old Liquor Mart) at CityPlace where bags can be checked, at a cost of $10 per bag. Funds raised will go to the True North Youth Foundation.

Some “pencil cases” will be available (complimentary) from the bag-check area, for fans who have small items such as keys, wallets and phones to take into the arena.


Twitter: @WFPJasonBell

Jason Bell

Jason Bell
Sports editor

Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).

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