November 11, 2019

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Winnipeg Jets playoff party will close off Donald Street during home games

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 6/4/2018 (583 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 6/4/2018 (583 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Organizers of the first-ever Winnipeg Whiteout Street Party are hoping the event to more than sizzle.

They'd like it to Fo' Shizzle Dizzle.

SUPPLIED</p><p>The Winnipeg Whiteout Street Party will be located on Donald Street between Portage and Graham Avenues.</p>

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The Winnipeg Whiteout Street Party will be located on Donald Street between Portage and Graham Avenues.

The plan is to hold the parties before every Jets home playoff game on Donald Street, between Portage and Graham Avenues, that will feature entertainment, two giant screens to watch the game, alcohol sales and food trucks.

The festivities will begin two hours before puck drop and continue until 30 minutes after the game ends, including possible overtime. The cost is very Winnipeg: Free.

"We looked at a number of locations and it's never easy to block streets or block traffic," said Dayna Spiring, president and CEO of Economic Development Winnipeg. "But this is one of those once-in-a-generation opportunities and we really felt we needed to celebrate.

"We've seen other cities do it and they've done it very, very well. We're going to do it the Winnipeg way and I hope we'll set a new bar.

"Company is coming," Spiring added. "Let's show them how great Winnipeg is."

Spiring said stakeholders — including city departments such as transit police, True North Sports and Entertainment and Winnipeg BIZ — are not sure how many fans the street parties will attract. But they will continue to expand and adapt if the Jets playoff run continues past the first round and beyond.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Mayor Brian Bowman speaks to the media at the Winnipeg Whiteout Street Party announcement.</p>

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Mayor Brian Bowman speaks to the media at the Winnipeg Whiteout Street Party announcement.

The Jets will host the Minnesota Wild in Game 1 of a seven-game series that could begin on Wednesday, although the NHL is not expected to confirm series dates until Sunday.

"We're going to see how it goes," Spiring said. "For Games 1 and 2 it may be a smaller number. It may grow depending on how far the Jets go in the playoff season. We're ready for big numbers and we've got opportunities to expand if we need to."

Spiring said organizers are prepared to host crowds of up to 10,000.

"Right now we have a relatively contained space, it's a smaller space," said Kevin Donnelly, senior vice-president of TNSE. "As it grows our plans and ambitions and hopes grow with it. We'll be meeting and revising after each event with stakeholders and adjusting as we need to. Obviously, there are a lot of unknowns."

During away games, TNSE has tentative plans to host fans in the arena when possible.

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman is confident that Jets fans will flock to the street party, regardless of weather, which on Friday was minus-7, with winds gusting to 51 km/hr, creating a windchill of -17 C.

"Even if it's snowing out, people will show up," Bowman said. "We're Winnipeggers. This isn't Toronto. We'll show up and deal with the snow."

Although organizers concede there will probably be more traffic downtown on game nights, it shouldn't create any major problems.

"We think there's ample opportunity to disperse in every different direction," Donnelly noted. "(And) There's parking lots throughout the downtown. So that (traffic snarls) hasn't really been a factor so I don't expect it to be dramatically different (from a regular Jets home game)."

Bowman said city departments have been working together to provide a secure, family-friendly environment. "I have tremendous confidence in the team that's been working on this," he said. "I'm planning to bring my family down and I'm planning to see a lot of other Winnipeg families coming down.

"One thing I love about sports is it... brings the community together," Bowman added. "This is really going to be a lot of fun and a great way for Winnipeggers to share their excitement and be part of the buzz that's happening in our community.

"We're seeing Jets Nation extend from coast-to-coast and beyond right now. That's why we fully expect this to be Canada's team going into the playoffs."

In fact, that bandwagon appears to include rapper Snoop Dogg, who on Friday appeared in an NHL video — holding a hockey stick and wearing an NHL jersey.

"Shoutout to Patrik Laine and the Winnipeg Jets for making the playoffs," Dogg said, adding, "Hey, man, I heard I was in the playoffs, too. Is that true? Get your pucks and sticks ready."

Then followed a cryptic graphic that read: "Snoop Dogg Coming April 11." Coming where?

Spiring rolled out the welcome mat for Snoop to venture north.

"I think he should come," she said. "Let him perform (at the street party)."

Donnelly, a veteran of the music industry who handles concerts for TNSE, added: "I'll get right on that. Absolutely."

It didn't sound like Donnelly was joking.

randy.turner@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @randyturner15

Randy Turner

Randy Turner
Reporter

Randy Turner spent much of his journalistic career on the road. A lot of roads. Dirt roads, snow-packed roads, U.S. interstates and foreign highways. In other words, he got a lot of kilometres on the odometer, if you know what we mean.

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