by Jas Faulkner, Nashville Correspondent
True North Sports and Entertainment group member Jim Ludlow summed it when he mentioned that today was emotional and surreal. For former Winnipeg mayor, Susan Thompson, it was a sweet vindication. She was in office when the Jets left in 1996, and spoke about the heartbreak of losing the team after the city struggled for months to keep the Jets home.
For those of you who have been distracted by the Stanley Cup Playoffs, True North and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced today that the Atlanta Spirit Ownership Group had agreed to the sale and relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg, Manitoba.
For representatives of True North, this is obviously a smart business move and a labour of love. The passion for what is coming to pass is evident in the fans celebrating on the streets. (And yes, I’m lookin’ at you, Anthony who skipped work to party at The Forks and ended up on CBC. You are so, busted, kiddo! Anthony’s bosses? Please cut him some slack. History is being made in downtown and he, like you, like everyone who loves the game, has been waiting to see how and when this will go down.)
Amidst the joy in the media lounge, NHL comissioner, Gary Bettman, was quick to remind everyone that all of this was conditional. He expressed the concern that the barn had to be filled and thirteen thousand tickets needed to be sold. Even in the face of the league’s highest authority’s stern “you have to walk and feed and take care of your NHL team” speech, the mood was optimistic. Everyone on the dias expressed confidence that selling the thirteen thousand season tickets would not be a problem. For single game ticket buyers, the 39.00 CDN to 129.00 CDN price tag should attract casual fans.
True North is wasting no time in marketing ticket sales. The organization sent out a text message to former season ticket holders thirteen minutes after the announcement was made. Ticket sales on the “Drive to 13″ website start tomorrow for Manitoba Moose season ticket holders, who will be given a chance to get tickets first. The general public will get a chance to buy tickets on June 4th.
“When the Jets left, it felt like something was taken from the heart of Winnipeg. The return of the team feels like an important part of this city has been restored.”
The only component that has not yet been determined is the name. While there overwhelming fan response has been in support of restoration of the old “Jets” moniker. Everyone involved with the transition and managment of the team has warned that nothing has been finalised.