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City Snapshot: How Winnipeg stacks up

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TSN/The Globe and Mail
7/6/2010 2:34:45 PM
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NHL history: Winnipeg Jets (1979-96) moved to become the Phoenix Coyotes.

Potential Owners: Mark Chipman, chairman of True North Sports and Entertainment, and partner David Thompson, chairman of The Woodbridge Company Ltd, whose net worth of 19 billion makes him the wealthiest person in Canada.

Demographic snapshot

Metro Population:  741,000

Median Household income: $58,128 (Canadian Average $59,090)

Average Household disposable income: $52,000 (Canadian Average $56,000)

Average Household net worth: $291,034 (Canadian Average $351,282)

Percentage of population aged 25-39: 21 per cent (Canadian Average 20 per cent)

Index for watching NHL Hockey on Television: 104 (Canadian average 100)

Economic snapshot

Number of Head offices: 128

Unemployment rate:  5.7 per cent  (Canadian average 8.1)

Number of businesses with 100+ employees: 520

Number of businesses with $20+ million in sales: 619

Number of businesses with 100+ employees and $20+ million in sales: 272

Population rate of growth: 1.3 per cent

GDP Growth: 2.2 per cent

Retail Sales: $9.7 Billion

Sports Competition in market: Winnipeg Blue Bombers (CFL), Winnipeg Goldeyes (Northern League Baseball).

Arena: MTS Centre, located in downtown Winnipeg, opened in 2004. Seats 15,015 with 50 luxury suites.

Has Going For It:  Slow but steady growth in an increasingly diversified economy. Population growth significantly stronger than when the Jets left 14 years ago. A building deemed suitable by both potential owners and the NHL. Potential ownership group with the wealth to sustain losses in down years.

Has Going Against It:  Would be the NHL's smallest market, making more vulnerable to a downturn in the economy or a dive by the Canadian dollar. Would likely have t compete at the mid-range of between NHL's salary floor and ceiling. Number of large companies roughly half of smallest existing Canadian markets. Market has not historically always supported losing teams.

What they're saying:  "We've tested using pricing that has existed in relative Canadian markets… Ottawa, Edmonton and Calgary to a lesser extent. When we test those average ticket prices, and the suite prices, and the pricing of the menu on corporate sponsorship that you need to sell, it hasn't caused any concern or alarm with any of our existing sponsors or perspective ones." – Mark Chipman, chairman, True North Sports and Entertainment.

What Gary Bettman says:  "There's never been any doubt about the passion of fans, people in Winnipeg for NHL hockey … It's always been a good hockey market. If you talk to the people who are interested in having a franchise in Winnipeg now, they'll tell you compared to what's going on in the rest of North America, the economy is pretty strong and they have no doubts with the economic viability."

Professor Norm O'Reilly's scorecard

Market Attractiveness

Economy: B-

Demographics: C

Market size: C

Corporate presence: C+

Overall Score for Market Attractiveness: C+

Franchise Viability

Arena and Location: B+

Competition and Barriers to Entry: A

Potential Owner (Mark Chipman, David Thomson): A

Final Grade: B

What Norm O'Reilly says: "With the right owner, and the right management team, and the right overall philosophy, you could make it work. You'd have to accept probably not having a high paid team on the ice. You're going to fill 80 to 90 per cent of your building with an average team so your risks are mitigated a bit. With a few factors in play, with the current economic situation, it could work. Long term? That's a question."

Note: Norm O'Reilly's evaluations are based on his own background and knowledge of the subject, transcripts of interviews done by TSN/Globe and Mail for this series and data collected from various sources including Statistics Canada, the Conference Board of Canada, Environics Analytics, IMI and Harris-Decima.

Why Not Winnipeg? (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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