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MONEY'S IN PLACE FOR JETS TO STAY: WILL OTTAWA BUCK UP?
Published May 18, 1995
With sources claiming that private investors trying to keep the Jets in Winnipeg have reached their C$60M cash goal, the potential deal "dangled" by a C$17M thread last night, as Canadian federal officials "balked" at coming up with C$37M for a new arena, according to John Douglas in this morning's WINNIPEG FREE PRESS. Jets Owner Barry Shenkarow set a deadline for noon today for local investors to get a deal together, or the team will be sold to a MN group led by health care entrepreneur Richard Burke. Yesterday, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Andre Ouellet said that the city could expect to receive only C$20M of the C$37M needed from the Federal government to build an arena. However, Human Resources Minister Lloyd Axworthy's staff "worked into the night negotiating with the prime minister's office" in an effort to get the full amount (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 5/18). In Vancouver, Jim Taylor reports that the Federal government will contribute a C$25M grant today, with a C$12M loan "that will be forgiven if not repaid over the next 10 years" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 5/18). STEEL CAGE MATCH: Last night, "in a meeting that more resembled a World Wrestling Federation main event," the Winnipeg City Council voted 13-3 pick up the C$37M tab for a third of the arena cost. John Douglas reports that "packed galleries cheered and gave high-fives to councilors who supported the public funding of a new arena while booing and waving goodbye at the three politicians who voted against the plan." Earlier in the week, Manitoba Premier Gary Filmon pledged C$37M in provincial support for the new, C$111M, 16,000-seat arena (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 5/18). WILL THE NHL PUT THE KIBOSH ON THE PEG? Despite a report yesterday by Minneapolis' Fox affiliate, Jets Owner Barry Shenkarow says the league will not reject the local offer to keep the team in Winnipeg. The FREE PRESS' Scott Taylor reports, "Shenkarow said the league would have no problem with any decision he made." Minneapolis' Fox station ran a report "that suggested the league would turn down any deal to keep the Jets in Winnipeg because the league "did not believe the team could be viable" in Winnipeg. NHL VP of Public Relations Arthur Pincus said the league would not comment on the situation, but did say that they would "stand by" a press release issued by Shenkarow last week that detailed the possibility of a local buyer stepping in to save the team (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 5/18). DO YOU TAKE THIS TEAM? WE DO: 2,500 fans paid C$100 apiece last night for a Jets fund-raiser held at the Winnipeg Convention Center, including a couple to be married next month that gave up their honeymoon money to keep the Jets in town. Bride-to-be Karen Dowhan: "We just broke into our wedding money and said, 'That's it.'" Meanwhile, companies locally and across Canada continue to chip in, with Canada's five largest banks contributing a total of C$1.25M to the cause. Coca-Cola Bottling-Winnipeg is donating C$.10 for each case of Coke sold over the next ten days -- a possible donation of C$40,000 (FREE PRESS, 5/18). STILL EXPECTING IN 'SOTA: MN Legislators are exploring the possibility of offering the public an opportunity to buy shares in the Jets to recoup any contribution the state may offer Burke to help bring the team to the Target Center (Jay Weiner, Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE, 5/17).