SBD/June 2, 2011/Franchises

True North Sells 1,870 Season Tickets During First Day of Sales For Winnipeg Franchise

True North looking to sell 13,000 season tickets in next three weeks
Prospective Thrashers Owner True North Sports & Entertainment sold 1,870 season tickets yesterday during the "first of three days they are on sale to select pre-sale groups, before the general public is allowed to purchase on Saturday," according to Ross Romaniuk of the WINNIPEG SUN. The total is "about 14% of the 13,000 season tickets True North wants to sell within three weeks, before the NHL's board of governors votes on approving the move" of the franchise to Winnipeg. The pre-sale for season-ticket holders for the AHL Manitoba Moose and for True North's corporate partners began yesterday at 1:00pm CT and "will run until Friday at 10 p.m." The sale for the general public "will begin on Saturday at noon" (WINNIPEG SUN, 6/2). True North officials said that "just over 8,000 tickets could be sold prior to Saturday's general public opening and close to a quarter of those tickets have already been claimed." In Winnipeg, Gary Lawless writes, "The Drive to 13,000, should it be successful, will give Winnipeg's NHL franchise both economic viability and certainty." True North CEO Jim Ludlow: "Having certainty in our revenue world going forward over a three-, four-, five-year period is very, very important in regards to sustainability and traction in the community" (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 6/2).

DEAL RAMIFICATIONS: Thrashers President Don Waddell said that though True North has not "rechristened the team yet, they did not purchase the rights to the Thrashers' name as part of the deal." Waddell: "They bought the assets of the company, excluding name and logo. That remains with our ownership group, Atlanta Spirit." In Atlanta, Tim Tucker notes True North "plans to announce the team's new name in the coming weeks," and options "include Winnipeg Jets, Manitoba Moose and Winnipeg or Manitoba Falcons." Meanwhile, Waddell said that he "won't be moving to Winnipeg." He also said that he "thought the Thrashers 'were off the table for moving this year' until an unexpected deal three weeks ago to keep the Phoenix Coyotes in Arizona for another season." That deal "led the Winnipeg group to instead pursue the money-losing Thrashers for immediate relocation" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 6/2). In Winnipeg, Paul Friesen reports NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman approached True North Chair Mark Chipman "about taking over the Coyotes in time for the 2009-10 season." Chipman in May '10 also "quietly flew to New York, where he spent an entire week hammering out a deal with the league," and Chipman said the two sides "had basically come to an agreement in principle." But Glendale decided to "bail out the team for a year." Chipman added when Glendale "acquired another year" last month, True North execs "immediately skipped tracks and were presented with the Atlanta opportunity" (WINNIPEG SUN, 6/2).

NEWFOUND HOME FOR AHL MOOSE
: In Newfoundland, Brendan McCarthy reports former Newfoundland & Labrador Premier Danny Williams yesterday announced that he had "reached an agreement to have the AHL's Manitoba Moose relocate" to St. John's for the '11-12 season. Williams will "lease the club over a four- or five-year term from True North Sports and Entertainment, which has operated the Moose in Winnipeg for the past 15 years." The deal is "still subject to approval" by the AHL BOG, but "no one is expecting that to be a roadblock." St. John's City Council "must also approve the deal." McCarthy notes the deal marks the return of AHL hockey to St. John's "after an absence of six years" (St. John's TELEGRAM, 6/2).
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