As the Winnipeg Jets attract more people to games, arena renovations help to meet demand

For years, Winnipeg’s very own hockey team has played a key role in attracting thousands down to the Canada Life Centre.

The building itself has seen its share of upgrades, with new seating options and more variety of food and drink. Its owner, True North Sports and Entertainment, spent about $133.5 million on renovations to the arena. That number parallels the cost of constructing the building back in 2004.

According to executive chairperson Mark Chipman, the focus is on improving fan experience. Speaking to 680 CJOB, he added the goal is to also have a successful team, on and off the ice.

“Most of what has been invested in would fall under the category of making the experience better. From different seating options to a much broader range of food and beverage offerings… we’ve got a building that really does measure up to the NHL standard,” said Chipman.

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“We are really trying to be a source of pride for our community.”

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Touching on the impact felt by the business over the last few years with the pandemic, Chipman said it’s also felt by fans, who for a while couldn’t watch games in person.

“One of the most heartbreaking moments of the past 12 seasons was being in our building the night that we won in triple overtime and finally beat the Edmonton Oilers in the playoffs. There was nobody to enjoy it (because of the pandemic),” said Chipman.

Chipman said that renovations are approached with an understanding of what is needed the most. He said that with more work being done there, everyone can feel that the building and the arena are further improved.

Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce president Loren Remillard says the Jets are a first-class organization. He adds that sponsors align themselves with the team because of the demand it garners throughout the city. That sponsorship becomes a way to spread brand awareness nationally and internationally.

Members with the chamber, according to Remillard, sponsor the team as a way to be a part of an “exciting product.”

“It is one of our many sports teams in this community that draws attention not just from the local market, but from markets outside our borders. That’s important, especially for companies that have multiple operations outside of Winnipeg,” said Remillard.

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But the president advised not to forget about the city’s other sporting franchises. Using the Blue Bombers and the Sea Bears as an example, he said that there is something for everyone in each of these franchises. And the advantages, he noted, are varied — like creating employment opportunities that add to the quality of life for Winnipeggers.

— with files from Global’s Iris Dyck.

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Winnipeg Jets to launch 2023-24 season with annual Fan Fest celebration

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