Agriculture Will Have to Step Up For the Winnipeg Jets to Survive

By Shaun Haney

Many people in Manitoba are very excited about the possibility of the NHL returning to Winnipeg in the fall.  There is very good reason to be excited and euphoric about the team that could return from Phoenix after no one ever thought that they would return.  One of the concerns about the Winnipeg Jets returning is that the rink is too small, there is not enough corporate suites and the corporate community may not be big enough.

As many of you already know it is always a bonus when families and small companies purchase tickets from the local NHL club.  What makes an NHL franchise viable over the long term is the corporate support in the form of suites, sponsorships and large ticket bundles.  Fans come and go but corporations tend to bring big dollars and long term money.  This is where agriculture’s role in the return of the Jets comes into play.  Many of the the Canadian headquarters of our largest Canadian agriculture operations are in Winnipeg due to it being the home of the Canadian grain business.  With the MTS Center being undersized in comparison to most new NHL rinks and limited amount of  corporate suites, the average prices of the tickets and suites is going to have to more expensive.  This will limit the participation of “regular” people and put a lot of pressure on the corporate community to step up and get behind the team.

Sure there are many non-ag corporations in Winnipeg but the support of the Jets by companies like Viterra, Cargill, Monsanto, Canadian Wheat Board, and Richardsons will be critical to the success of the franchise in the long term.  We have seen agriculture companies more involved in sports lately with Becker Underwood‘s sponsorship of the Saskatchgewan RoughRiders and Dow AgroSciences recent support of the CFL nationally.  I am a season ticket holder in Calgary and last year there was not an agriculture sponsor in the building but there are many different agriculture companies that have tickets or even suites.  Calgary is fortunate to have the oil industry that props up the stability of the franchise and all the pressure is not put on agriculture.

This week I tweeted questions about agriculture’s needed support of the Jets and here are some of the responses I got from farmers.

porkamen (Kurt Stoess) —  @shaunhaney If not then the #coyotes might as well go somewhere else to fail

Serfman76 (Kevin Serfas) — @shaunhaney if they don’t it will be a futile excerise.

farmboy542 (Kevin Campschroer) — @shaunhaney I think Jets would be a better investment for CWB than ships!

Does Winnipeg have another industry other than agriculture to help soften the blow for the ag industry or will companies like Richardson’s and Cargill need to commit huge portions of their sales and marketing budgets to the new version of the Winnipeg Jets?  The Jets look like they are coming back so Winnipeg and the corporate community better figure out what makes them stay even with the Thompsons (the new Jets owners) have mega dollars.  Owners only like to lose money for so long before the next “save the Jets” campaign begins.  Agricultural corporations better get out their wallets or the new Winnipeg Jets will only be making a short lay over before they head out to Quebec City or Southern Ontario.

 

Shaun Haney

Shaun grew up on a family seed farm in Southern Alberta. Haney Farms produces, conditions and retails wheat, barley, canola and corn seed. Shaun Haney is the founder of RealAgriculture.com. @shaunhaney

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5 Comments

Brenda

You might be surprised how many small and mid-sized ag companies are in Winnipeg these days, and their willingness to support the Jets. The guys in my office have been deliberating just which tier of corporate tickets FarmLink will buy for almost a year now.

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Shaun Haney

I think thats great Brenda becasue they will need the support of many small to mid sized companies buying season tickets. But it will take large sponsors that will spend over $1million dollars per year to keep things off thin ice.

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Garth

To be honest this venture is a failure from the word go. I view bringing the Jets back to Winnipeg is like tring to pound a square peg in a round hole. First off the MTS ceter is way too small. Without the correct amount corporate boxes it will be left to the fans again to try to make this work. This means large ticket prices for every seat which will make it impossible for a family to go to the games. I moved to Alberta in 97 from Manitoba so I went through the whole Jets moving and it was painful. Basically it was up to the fans to support the jets and buy season tickets and at the end the fan base was not there. We can talk about corporate sponsorship all you want but Winnipeg has been the ag center for many years and the ag sector back then was making more money than it is today. So resting the fate of the Jets on corporate sponsorship from the ag companies is not reallistic in my opinion. Manitoba has oil as well which is three hours from Winnipeg in the Virden area so since Manitoba is having its little boom maybe some oil sponsorship would be the first place to make this happen. I feel at the end of the day it will but put back on the fans to make this work and pay the big prices and that is not going to work.

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Dean

Why should farmers in other parts of Canada buy tickets for the Jets through the CWB. We have our own sport teams in our local towns to support.

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Brenda

Garth, you make some great points. I only hope that Winnipeg today compared to Winnipeg when the Jets left is a different place in enough of the ways that the stats suggest: stable equity, decent demographic, solid opportunity spectrum for employed and entrepreneurs alike… and that those people shell out for regular hockey games. I’m not even much of a fan myself but it’s such a passion for all my staff and clients that I can’t help but assume this is going to be awesome!

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