|Location|| 300 Portage Avenue|
Winnipeg, MB R3C 5S4
|Broke ground||April 2003|
|Opened||November 16, 2004|
|Owner||True North Sports & Entertainment Limited|
|Operator||True North Sports & Entertainment Limited|
|Construction cost||$133.5 million|
|Architect|| Sink Combs Dethlefs, |
Number Ten Architectural Group
|Former names||True North Centre|
|Tenants|| Winnipeg Jets (NHL) (2011-present)|
Manitoba Moose (AHL) (2004-2011)
Winnipeg Alliance FC (Canadian Major Indoor Soccer League) (2007)
|Capacity|| Hockey: 15,015|
End Stage Concerts: 16,170
Centre Concerts: 16,345
The MTS Centre is an indoor arena at 300 Portage Avenue in downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba, in Canada, at the former Eaton's site. It is owned by True North Sports & Entertainment Limited, at a cost of $133.5 million, and is 440,000 square feet (41,000 m2) in size. It opened on November 16, 2004, replacing the since-demolished Winnipeg Arena. It can seat 15,015 spectators for ice hockey and up to 16,333 spectators for concerts. It was formerly known as the True North Centre during planning and construction before Manitoba Telecom Services bought the naming rights for $7 million over 10 years.
With the bankruptcy of the iconic Eaton's retailer, the famed store in downtown Winnipeg was emptied in late 1999. Various alternative uses for the building (including residential condominiums) were suggested, but ultimately the arena was deemed to be the most viable and beneficial to the city's struggling downtown by Winnipeg Mayor Glen Murray and the True North Group. After a small, but emotional resistance to losing the Western Canadian landmark Eaton's building by some locals, which inspired a “group hug” of the “Big Store” by a reported 180 people in 2001, the store was demolished in 2002 to make way for the new entertainment complex.
In an effort to recognize the store's history, red bricks were incorporated into the design of the arena façade, evoking the memory of the Eaton’s store that had once graced Portage Avenue. An original store window and Tyndall stone surround is mounted in the arena concourse to house a collection of Eaton's memorabilia. The Timothy Eaton statue that was once part of store is proudly housed in the MTS Centre.
The MTS Centre has played host to many exhibition pre-season NHL games, including a September 17, 2006 game between the Phoenix Coyotes (formerly the Winnipeg Jets) and the Edmonton Oilers. Other NHL teams to have pre-season games in the MTS Centre include the Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks, and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
A 2008 survey was made by the Pollstar Magazine. Through the first nine months of this year, the MTS Centre has sold 270,095 tickets. These ticket sales include only non-sporting events and do not include hockey games. It is now the 19th busiest arena in the world. Also the arena now sits 11th among facilities in North America, its highest ranking ever, and it remains in the 3rd spot in Canada, after the Bell Centre in Montreal (fourth overall) and the Air Canada Centre in Toronto (third overall).
The NHL previously had a franchise based in Winnipeg called the Jets played home games out of the now-demolished Winnipeg Arena. Facing mounting financial troubles, the franchise relocated to Arizona and became the Phoenix Coyotes for the 1996-97 NHL season.
The MTS Centre is usually seen as much too small and would require a significant increase to the seating capacity and significant cost. Its current capacity is 15,015 and the potential ownership including Manitoba Moose owner Mark Chipman has stated that it is in fact not too small, but would create a supply and demand situation. While it would in fact be the smallest arena in the league--Edmonton's Rexall Place being the current smallest at a capacity of just under 17,000--many NHL teams report average attendance well under 15,000. It could also be renovated. Talks were sparked when Commissioner Gary Bettman stated "Under the current CBA..I think an NHL franchise could work in Winnipeg".
Gary Bettman said in April of 2009 he would like to see the Phoenix Coyotes back in Winnipeg instead of Hamilton due to the team filing for bankruptcy.
In March 2010, a number of news outlets reported an agreement in principle had been reached between the NHL and the Winnipeg group to move the Phoenix Coyotes back to Winnipeg as early as the 2011–2012 season if plans to keep the team in Arizona were to fall through. Plans to expand the arena's capacity were also reported, and True North is currently expanding the arena's press box. Meanwhile, all suggestions of any deals being in place were categorically denied by Chipman and NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. On October 16, 2010, Scott Burnside of ESPN.com reported that an ownership deal to keep the Coyotes in Phoenix was in place. The proposed ownership deal had the City of Glendale, owner of Jobing.com Arena, buying the parking rights from the team's proposed owner, Matthew Hulsizer, for $100 million (US), and Glendale paying $97 million (US) in arena management fees to Hulsizer. The Glendale-Hulsizer ownership deal hit numerous snags, and appeared near collapse after the Detroit Red Wings swept the Phoenix Coyotes in the first round of the 2010–2011 NHL playoffs. As of April 26, 2011, the ownership deal in Glendale remained stalled by threatened litigation and financial difficulties, leaving the location of the Coyotes franchise uncertain for the 2011-2012 season. Eventually, the City of Glendale pumped money into the arena, buying time for the NHL to find a new owner for the team.
On May 19, 2011 the Globe and Mail reported that the Atlanta Thrashers would be moved to Winnipeg. These reports were later denied by True North saying, "It's simply not true, it's not a done deal." Twelve days later, however, a deal was completed and announced May 31, 2011 at a press conference at the MTS Centre. The sale and relocation was formally approved by the NHL Board of Governors at their meeting on June 21. As part of the transition to the NHL, the arena is going through some minor renovations to bring it in line with the league's standards.
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