Winnipeg Jets 2.0 The biggest marketing gambit in history is over.
It was last April that True North Sports launched an aggressive ticket campaign, including a poorly veiled reminder of what happens when there aren’t enough fans to fill an arena. No 1996 video was included.
You may remember co-owner Mark Chipman introducing the campaign to local businesses at a downtown luncheon.
The message was that we needed more support.
forever winnipegthey called it.
Two home games into the season, or rather, Anyway, Winnipeg.
After playing with about 2,000 empty seats in their home opener against Florida, the Jets were without more than 4,000 for Tuesday night’s matchup with Pierre-Luc Dubois and the LA Kings.
The announced attendance of 11,226 was the lowest attendance of any Jets 2.0 season in more than 12 years, excluding pandemic-restricted crowds.
I don’t think the players aren’t aware of it.
“I was a little surprised, to be honest,” Kyle Connor told me Wednesday. “The first game, I didn’t realize it right away. Me and Ehlers were sitting on the bench (Tuesday), talking, looking around, and I was definitely a little surprised.”
Conner is in his seventh full season with the Jets.
The first five games saw very few empty seats, confirming Winnipeg’s reputation as one of the hottest markets in the NHL.
Last season, with the average attendance in the 15,325-seat building dropping to 14,045 and Winnipeg ranking 30th in the 32-team NHL, the veneer began to show cracks.
This season seems to have lost whatever sparkle it had left.
Of the 28 teams playing at home as of Tuesday, the Jets were in last place at just 82% capacity.
Those within the organization don’t think this was just a bad start. They seem to have accepted the fact that what was once the hum of turnstiles will now become a slow click, click, click.
“I hope not,” Connor said. “Winnipeg is known for its very loyal fans. We’ll use that to our advantage. Home ice, I don’t know what our record has been since we’ve been here, but it’s been pretty good.
“That’s what we as players live for and that big atmosphere.”
If that evaporates, the Jets risk losing the only thing that attracts players here.
Dubois himself also talked about how he used to watch packed venues and playoff whiteouts as a kid. When he was traded from Columbus to Winnipeg, he was excited to experience it.
On Tuesday, he made a 5-1 laugh in LA and helped make a quiet night even quieter.
The Jets had a season ticket base of 13,000 people and a waiting list of about 8,000 people.
Its foundations have eroded to less than 10,000. There is no longer a waiting list.
Connor said he would love to see the survey with some answers.
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We wanted to ask Chipman some questions about whether this is sustainable, what the break-even point is, etc., but as usual, that request was denied.
In fact, the Jets were asking members of the media on Wednesday what they were hearing from fans.
Everything from ticket and beer prices being too high, made worse by inflation and the aftermath of the pandemic, to the team’s poor performance, to poor customer service, if not outright disregard for the fans who have been loyal since the beginning. I asked. 10 years.
This week I heard from someone who had over a dozen season tickets.
His days are numbered and he is considering bailing out permanently after this season.
“COVID-19 didn’t play a role with the Jets,” he told me via email. “Downtown terror after dark didn’t work for the Jets, and on-ice play didn’t work for the Jets. The Jets’ lack of brain trust and love for their fans is what got them to where they are today. is.”
Of course, team performance also plays a role.
These first two crowds came before this edition had a chance to make an impression.
“That’s right,” Connor said. “I don’t know if the fans are looking forward to our accomplishments. But their support means the world to us. I hope we can turn it around.”
If a game between the Panthers, a Stanley Cup finalist with longtime Jets manager Paul Maurice and Dubois, a natural villain, draws yawns, what will happen when San Jose and Arizona visit in February? ?
The Jets could end up with another franchise record or two lower by the end of Season 13.
In a not-so-subtle irony during Tuesday’s game, the arena’s electronic ribbon board advertised nonstop flights to Atlanta.
we won’t go there.