July 21, 2018

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More tickets issued for Whiteout party after Saturday's lacklustre turnout

Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press</p><p>Brandon Klimenko hoists a fake Stanley Cup on Donald Street at Graham Avenue during the Whiteout street party before the start of Game 1 of the Western Conference final between the Winnipeg Jets and the Las Vegas Golden Knights in Winnipeg Saturday. Klimenko hopes the Jets wins the real one.</p>

Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press

Brandon Klimenko hoists a fake Stanley Cup on Donald Street at Graham Avenue during the Whiteout street party before the start of Game 1 of the Western Conference final between the Winnipeg Jets and the Las Vegas Golden Knights in Winnipeg Saturday. Klimenko hopes the Jets wins the real one.

A day after a lacklustre turnout at the Jets' Whiteout street party as round 3 of NHL playoffs began, organizers said the Winnipeg Police Service had required tickets be issued for the event.

“It was a decision that was mandated by police. We want people who are coming to the street party to have an advance ticket. There are benefits in knowing how many people come and in alerting the public if you don’t have a ticket you need to rethink your plans,” said Kevin Donnelly of True North Sports and Entertainment,.

He said the police service had called for a ticket system during earlier rounds, but other stakeholders “convinced them it was fine to continue rolling as we did.”

The parties were on a first-come, first-served basis, but as the crowd sizes swelled during round 2 games, organizers agreed to the ticket system. On Friday, many fans posted complaints on social media. Some people tried to sell the free tickets for $25 each on websites such as Kijiji.

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A day after a lacklustre turnout at the Jets' Whiteout street party as round 3 of NHL playoffs began, organizers said the Winnipeg Police Service had required tickets be issued for the event.

"It was a decision that was mandated by police. We want people who are coming to the street party to have an advance ticket. There are benefits in knowing how many people come and in alerting the public if you don’t have a ticket you need to rethink your plans," said Kevin Donnelly of True North Sports and Entertainment,.

He said the police service had called for a ticket system during earlier rounds, but other stakeholders "convinced them it was fine to continue rolling as we did."

The parties were on a first-come, first-served basis, but as the crowd sizes swelled during round 2 games, organizers agreed to the ticket system. On Friday, many fans posted complaints on social media. Some people tried to sell the free tickets for $25 each on websites such as Kijiji.

The capacity for Saturday’s street party was 27,000, and there was an eight-ticket limit per person.

As predicted by many, the turnout fell well short of capacity because many who had snapped up the free tickets didn't go to Saturday's party.

By the time the puck dropped for Game 1 of the Winnipeg Jets versus Vegas Golden Knights Western Conference finals match, only 15,000 people had turned up. The Jets defeated the Golden Knights 4-2.

"It’s sort of along the lines of a lesson learned. We knew we wouldn’t get 100 per cent redemption on the tickets issued, but what we didn’t know was what fraction, what percentage, wouldn’t be redeemed," Donnelly said.

"So what we expected to have happen bore itself out last night. We thought it was prudent in our first offering of the tickets that we didn’t overinflate the quantity of tickets available."

In response to the underwhelming turnout, organizers announced an additional 10,000 free tickets would be issued for Game 2 on Monday. The limit was changed four tickets per person.

They hope issuing extra tickets will result in a capacity turnout. The tickets went on sale Sunday at noon on Ticketmaster.

For Monday's event, 37,000 tickets will be issued and 16,000 fans who have game tickets will also be able to enter the street party. That means as many as 53,000 people could attend the street party, which has a maximum capacity of 27,000.

Despite Saturday’s hiccup and the pushback from fans, Donnelly said the ticket system is here to stay.

"We can’t continue to expand indefinitely. At a certain point, everybody has a limit in terms of what the business is. The capacity for us to handle a crowd isn’t infinite," Donnelly said.

"We’re certainly willing to continue to look at ways to get tickets into the hands of people who want to use them."

Matt Schaubroeck, a spokesman for Economic Development Winnipeg, stressed that the street parties are a work in progress. He also said one rationale behind issuing tickets for a free event is to avoid turning away fans.

"We knew there would be a huge demand to come cheer on your team for the Western Conference finals. If we turn thousands of people away at the door, there may be no alternative for them to go to, if the downtown bars and restaurants are all filled," Schaubroeck said.

"If they then missed the game, that would be really disappointing for those fans. That’s the last thing we wanted to see.'"

ryan.thorpe@freepress.mb.ca@rk_thorpe

Ryan Thorpe

Ryan Thorpe
Reporter

Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.

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