Winnipeg Loves the CFL, Not the NHL
In light of the Jim Balsillie ruling, once again baring Hamilton from the NHL, and the obsession of Canadians for getting another NHL team, it is refreshing to look at the Winnipeg situation.
There is a lobby group in Winnipeg called the Manitoba Mythbusters (with whom I've had frequent clashes) that wants the Winnipeg Jets back at any cost in their too-small arena which they insist in NHL size when even the management publicly stated that it was for the AHL alone.
When Winnipeg opted to build a new arena, they could have built a proper NHL size one of 18,000-plus and then gone after a team in trouble like Phoenix or hoped the NHL would offer them an expansion franchise.
But they did not. Why?
Because Winnipeg does not trust Gary Bettman and the NHL Board of Governors. So instead they built an arena that suits they own needs, one for the AHL Moose. Their decision is justified because we've all just witnessed how hard the NHL fought to prevent another Canadian team from joining their ranks.
Winnipeg remembered how too easily the NHL let the Jets, Nordiques, and Whalers depart and then contrasted it with how the NHL fought to the death to keep a bad franchise in Phoenix. They don't want that kind of trashy treatment.
Why should Winnipeg, like Hamilton spend millions of dollars building an NHL size arena to try for a franchise from a league that has shown anti-Canadian policies since 1967?
Why should they build an arena for a team that may never come back? They believed they should put their sports money elsewhere.
So instead of building an arena, they are building a new stadium for the team they already have, the Blue Bombers of the CFL.
Unlike the NHL, the CFL values its Canadian franchises and hopes they flourish.
They would welcome Balsillie or any other Canadian investor with open arms if they tried to build a CFL size stadium in a city like London, Kitchener, or Quebec.
Winnipeg opted to build for something solid, not something pie-in-the-sky. They are the least blinkered city in Canada about the NHL.
They chose to invest in the CFL. They made the right choice. They're getting something for their money that is going to be staying in their city for a long time.
So sorry Mythbusters. It seems your city isn't being taken in by your rhetoric. You'll have to pine away for the Jets on your own. You can drown your sorrows while watching a Blue Bombers game at the new stadium.
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