May 26, 2018

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Surprise! Poll finds interest in Jets increasing as playoffs progress

John Woods / The Canadian Press</p><p>A poll found 47 per cent of Manitobans expected to watch all third-round games against the Vegas Golden Knights, while only 28 per cent had expected to see all of the first-round games against the Minnesota Wild.</p>

John Woods / The Canadian Press

A poll found 47 per cent of Manitobans expected to watch all third-round games against the Vegas Golden Knights, while only 28 per cent had expected to see all of the first-round games against the Minnesota Wild.

In perhaps the most unnecessary poll of all time, a local firm found Manitobans are expected to watch Winnipeg Jets games in greater numbers the further the hockey team advances in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The independent poll on Jets' interest was conducted by PRA (Prairie Research Associates) in Winnipeg from May 8-11.

Nicholas Borodenko, a partner with PRA, said the idea to gauge how many people were expected to watch Jets games and how many people were attending Whiteout street parties stemmed from internal disagreement at the firm.

"Internally, we were sort of interested in the impact that the Jets have on both Manitobans, and to be honest, our business as well," Borodenko said.

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In perhaps the most unnecessary poll of all time, a local firm found Manitobans are expected to watch Winnipeg Jets games in greater numbers the further the hockey team advances in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The independent poll on Jets' interest was conducted by PRA (Prairie Research Associates) in Winnipeg from May 8-11.

Nicholas Borodenko, a partner with PRA, said the idea to gauge how many people were expected to watch Jets games and how many people were attending Whiteout street parties stemmed from internal disagreement at the firm.

"Internally, we were sort of interested in the impact that the Jets have on both Manitobans, and to be honest, our business as well," Borodenko said.

In other words, pollsters trying to get the attention of Manitoban to take surveys lately have had a heck of a time doing so during the playoffs.

PRA's survey was conducted during the second round of the playoffs when the Winnipeg Jets bested the Nashville Predators in seven games. It found the actual viewership for all second-round games among those surveyed was 42 per cent.

In the same group, 47 per cent expected to watch all third-round games against the Vegas Golden Knights, while only 28 per cent had expected to see all of the first-round games against the Minnesota Wild.

There were 1,722 Manitobans surveyed, a "non-probability sample (where) no error rate can be calculated," according to PRA. A random population survey of the same number of Manitobans would yield an error rate of plus or minus 2.4 per cent, 19 times out of 20, PRA said.

The poll also asked how many survey respondents attended a Whiteout party downtown since the playoffs began. The result was one in five Winnipeggers (19 per cent).

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Whiteout street party attendance decreased dramatically after the introduction of a ticketing system.</p></p>

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Whiteout street party attendance decreased dramatically after the introduction of a ticketing system.

Most of those attending the street parties were younger, with 34 per cent of attendees ages 18 to 34; 17 per cent between 35 and 44; 13 per cent between 45 and 64; and six per cent 65 and over.

The gender breakdown was also fairly split: 20 per cent of women surveyed said they were attending compared with 18 per cent of men.

"Personally, I was surprised about the gender split. We know that from past work that fans who go to the Jets games tend to skew male... it tends to be around two-thirds male," Borodenko said.

He believes the playoff parties are drawing more Winnipeggers who are looking for exciting events, not necessarily those interested in hockey.

Whiteout party attendance has been noticeably down of late since Economic Development Winnipeg and True North Sports and Entertainment moved to a free ticketing system for the event, rather than letting crowds come in willy nilly.

Early crowds hovered in the 20,000s, while Monday's estimate for attendees was 11,000, according to Economic Development Winnipeg.

 

Fans have decried the move to ticketing, which has already been preyed upon by some scalpers trying to resell the free tickets for a quick buck.

A spokesperson for Economic Development Winnipeg said the group was debriefing with its stakeholders Tuesday and Wednesday and won't comment on the situation until after those conversations take place. The statement was echoed by True North.

After an extensive press briefing Monday, Winnipeg police wouldn't comment further on the street parties or qualms about crowd control Tuesday either.

jessica.botelho@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @_jessbu

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