Winnipeg Jets Troll Karma

The Winnipeg Jets bandwagon is developing vacancies as the former Thrashers continue to struggle in the “colder than mars” environment. The Winnipeg Free Press has jumped off as well, dropping a story today (click here) with details about the government subsidies that are supporting the local NHL team.

Jets Get Bigger Government Payday Than Coyotes



Despite protestations and rationalizations to the contrary from Jets fans, it’s been common knowledge from the day the Thrashers came to town that True North would be subsidized by public money for their hockey venture. The Free Press states:

“The city and province are projected to provide True North Sports & Entertainment with $12.8 million worth of subsidies in 2014, according to city budget documents and a review of the revenue-sharing deal struck between the province and Shark Club, a gaming centre run by True North.”

That’s more than the $11M that has been mentioned in the past and significantly more than the net number Glendale, AZ will provide the Coyotes.

The irony of that fact, and others, isn’t lost on Coyotes fans that have endured years of trolling from underinformed media (social and otherwise) trolls about government support for a professional sport.

MTS Centre (and Iceplex)

Rarely mentioned north of the border is the $40.5M of taxpayer dollars that went into constructing the MTS Centre, now listed as owned and operated by True North. It’s prudent to remember the Coyotes are tenants (and managers) of their facility owned by the City of Glendale, ownership has not been transferred to them.

Also owned and operated by True North is their practice facility, MTS Iceplex, which received $11.7M of government funds for construction.

That’s $52.2M of government cash in True North’s pocket. Ironically it’s more money than the $50M paid by Glendale to the NHL during the Coyotes bankruptcy debacle.

Sales Tax Rebate

The bulk of the government money True North is projected to receive is a $6.192M rebate check from Winnipeg. That check should be coming every year to the Jets unless they move again. True North worked the deal to get ten percent of the city tax on events at MTS Centre.

Apologists for the subsidy claim it isn’t a subsidy because the revenue wouldn’t have existed unless True North was there. Of course neither would the over $50M expense for building them a couple arenas. It’s inarguably over $6M out of the pockets of the citizens of Winnipeg being paid to the “rich owners” of the Jets.

Also lining the pockets of True North is another $1.14M of tax breaks apparently available to the private business because Manitoba provincial law allows the MTS Centre to be categorized as “public space” despite the fact that it’s unlikely you could enter the “public space” without paying True North.

The breakdown is $258,300 for a Winnipeg business tax refund and an $888,674 break on property taxes.

Gambling Revenue

Pahrump, NV

Pahrump, NV

True North opened their 17,000 square foot Shark Club in Winnipeg’s Cityplace in June. They added another 90 slot machines allocated by Manitoba to bring their gambling machine total to 140. Interestingly, the 50 True North machines that had been housed in a bar across the street (Tavern United) were replaced, so the total slot count in the area was increased by 140.

I don’t know if the bar across the street gets the same deal True North gets. My guess would be, nope.

There’s also six blackjack/poker tables and a bunch of TV’s in what’s described as a Las Vegas style gaming centre. I’ve seen pictures, maybe Pahrump style is more accurate.

The reviews for this Shark Club are less than stellar, by the way, garnering TWO out of five stars on Urbanspoon (click here), not good unless there is some clause in some contract that requires all True North operations to mirror the performance of the Jets.

The income from the machines to True North is estimated to average $5.59M per year. The Free Press article states:

“Privacy legislation prevents Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries from disclosing the precise amount of the gaming revenue that will be shared with True North, said Andrea Kowal, a spokeswoman for the Crown corporation.

“Under the terms of the deal, if the gaming centre generates less than $6.1 million a year, True North gets to keep 90 per cent of the house, which works out to a maximum of $5.49 million.”

Is that the same deal other entities running slot machines for the province get? Maybe, but it’s certainly $5.5M or so that would otherwise be in the public’s pocket. The province doesn’t even care whether they get a dime, instead they’re happy it just exists.

“The province says there is no expectation of any revenue from the gaming tables at Shark Club, which one provincial official described last year as being ‘there for flash.'”

$5.5M worth of flash?

Pot Meet Kettle

Here’s the words of a True North guy, substitute “Coyotes” and “Westgate” or “Glendale” as required:

“What was vacant space has now been transformed to one of Western Canada’s leading sports bars,” Ludlow said. “It’s really a complement to everything else that’s going on downtown. This doesn’t stand alone, it stands as part of a larger puzzle piece that fits into all of the dynamic new changes that are happening downtown and that continue to happen.”

So, Mr. Ludlow is saying that an anchor tenant in what would otherwise be an underutilized space is GOOD FOR THE AREA and, thus, worthy of receiving assistance from the local government(s) to realize the goal of their business?

Imagine that.

I agree.