Welcome Back NHL: Winnipeg Celebrates Return to the Big Leagues

Matt EichelSenior Writer IMay 31, 2011

Winnipeg fans poured into the Forks for the announcement Tuesday morning
Winnipeg fans poured into the Forks for the announcement Tuesday morning

With thousands lining the outdoor atrium at the Forks, as well as at the intersection of Portage and Main in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Tuesday morning, True North Sports & Entertainment CEO Mark Chipman, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and David Thomson of True North S&E announced the purchase of the Atlanta Thrashers.

Throughout the morning and into the late evening, Winnipeg-ers have cheered constantly and loudly celebrating the NHL's return to the Manitoban capital.

Around 10:45 am CT, the Forks became packed with rabid Winnipeg hockey fans chanting "Go Jets, go!" and "N-H-L" and humorously booing the tennis that preceded the TSN broadcast of the press conference.

In attendance were many former Jets alumni, including former captain Thomas Steen, as well as former Jets and Phoenix Coyotes play-by-play announcer Kurt Keilback.

Once the announcement was made of the purchase by Mark Chipman, pandemonium erupted at the Forks, at Portage and Main, and throughout Manitoba and Canada.

True North unveiled their ticket drive campaign and the "Drive to 13,000" website to see how well the community of Winnipeg and the province of Manitoba will support an NHL team's return.  Single game ticket prices range from $39-$129 per game.

Season ticket packages go on sale tomorrow to season ticket holders of the now moving AHL's Manitoba Moose.  Ticket sales to the public go on sale Saturday at noon local time. 

Season ticket packages range from $1,755 to $5,805.  Season-ticket packages also include a certain amount of years to commit to those season tickets, from three years (nosebleeds) to five years (up close).

Now with the announcement pending the approval of the NHL's board of governors, True North has the task of naming the team, unveiling a jersey and logo, and reaching out to Atlanta staff, such as GM Rick Dudley and head coach Craig Ramsay to see if they are still to be in the mix come next season.