Winnipeg Jets Ticket Scandal: Officials Using Public Funds Fuels Controversy

T.J. Mcaloon@@tjmcaloonContributorMay 10, 2012

WINNIPEG, CANADA - NOVEMBER 29: Winnipeg Jets fans line up to buy tickets for the Winnipeg Jets game against the Ottawa Senators at the MTS Centre on November 29, 2011 in Winnipeg, Canada. The Senators defeated the Jets 6-4.
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Winnipeg Jets had a great first season back in the NHL at the gate, as they were at 100 percent capacity for every home game.

However, there has been some recent controversy stemming from public officials in Winnipeg allegedly using tax-payer money to help the Jets get to their season-ticket goal.

According to the Winnipeg Sun, the NDP ticket scandal has been unfolding over the last few days. From the Sun

The NDP ticketgate scandal continued to unfold Wednesday with revelations that three more Crown corporations bought Winnipeg Jets tickets for their senior brass and cabinet ministers on the public dime.

And one cabinet minister said they did it to help the Jets reach their 13,000-ticket drive goal.

The Sun had a story earlier this week about the NDP using public funds to buy ads at the MTS Center, saying:

MLCC spent $250,000 of public money to buy ads at the MTS Centre during Jets games and to get free tickets for senior officials at the Crown corporation.

The free tickets were snapped up by MLCC board members and by senior officials at the state-owned liquor monopoly.

Some tickets were handed down to MLCC supervisors and store managers.

But the very hottest tickets this season — the Jets home opener Oct. 9 against the Montreal Canadiens — were scooped up entirely by NDP board members so they could personally enjoy one of the hottest sporting events in the city’s history.

The Sun’s story from Wednesday continues with more public companies taking Jets tickets by using public funds, saying:

We’ve since found out the Manitoba Lotteries Corp., Manitoba Public Insurance Corp. and Manitoba Hydro have all spent public dollars to obtain expensive tickets to the NHL games, thanks to the findings of the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation.

Some tickets have gone to charities and customer draws. But most have been scooped up by senior managers, executives and NDP-appointed board members.

That includes one-time NDP finance minister Vic Schroeder who treated himself and a guest to a Jets game while he was chairman of Manitoba Hydro.

The fact that one cabinet minster said that he had to do this to help push the Jets to their goal of 13,000 season-ticket holders is odd, since the team claimed it sold out its season tickets within 17 minutes. 

From the Winnipeg Free Press:

True North Sports and Entertainment’s ‘Drive to 13,000’ season-ticket campaign lasted less than 72 hours as the last tickets were claimed within 17 minutes of Saturday’s noon opening to the general public. By shortly after 2 p.m., a ticket waiting list had been capped at 8,000 people.

From that piece in the Free Press, Jim Ludlow, President and CEO of True North Sports & Entertainment, said about the rush to purchase tickets:

It’s a testament to everybody in the city and we owe a lot to our fans in the city, this province and across Canada because we had people buying from across Canada.

The rush to purchase season tickets led to the Jets having to cap their season-ticket waiting list at 8,000 people.

If this Ticketgate story is true, and public officials used public money to snatch up season tickets that could have been bought by one of those 8,000 people on the waiting list, then this will be a black eye on the city of Winnipeg. 

The city deserved to have a team once again. However, its diehard fans deserve better than public officials allegedly holding the best seats for themselves along with not using public funds to help the city. 


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