Surprise! Winnipeg, Canada, Wants A Hockey Team More Than Phoenix Does

Phoenix Coyotes Home GameA riveted Phoenix home crowd?

Photo: Sarah McLellan

Ever since being stripped of two franchises in the mid-1990s, Canada has angled for another NHL franchise to satiate its rabid hockey fanbase.When NHL commissioner Gary Bettman moved the Winnipeg Jets to Phoenix and the Quebec Nordiques to Colorado, he cited currency and tax differences, ageing facilities, and growing US interest to explain abandoning the hockey homeland.

But as the Phoenix Coyotes struggle to find sound financial footing, Canada, and Winnipeg in particular, are attractive alternatives once again.

Two studies recently conducted by the Winnipeg Sun attempt to confirm this sentiment:

  • 17 of the 25 executives who occupy luxury suites at Winnipeg’s arena – the six-year-old MTS Centre – would renew, even at a predicted NHL rate that’s three times the current $60,000 price tag.
  • An online survey found that 72 per cent of respondents would pay at least $50 to see a single regular season game.
  • 36 per cent of respondents said they’d buy season tickets.
  • 75 per cent of respondents favoured at least “minor” taxpayer support to get a team back.

That’s certainly promising results for a city whose population – 663,451 at last count – compares favourably with that of Boston. Of course, professional sports franchises are just as dependent upon corporate sponsors as they are on attendance. But this report suggest that if the public support is there, the companies will follow.

In fact, interest is so high that the Winnipeg Sun has a whole section of its website dedicated to the NHL’s potential return to the city.

As for Phoenix—that photo above tells you all you need to know. They sold just 6,706 for a regular-season home game last week, and it’s doubtful that even that many were in the building when this second-period photo was taken. (Via Puck Daddy)

See Also: Will the NHL Flee A Struggling US Economy For Richer Canada?

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