True North Sports & Entertainment, the new owner of the Atlanta Thrashers, has announced it has reached its goal of selling 13,000 season tickets prior to the June 21 meeting of the NHL's board of governors.
The wheels are in motion for True North and hockey fans in Winnipeg. The season ticket drive was a huge success for the still unnamed team, and there is guaranteed to be at least 15,000 people in attendance each at the MTS Centre.
If all goes well and the formerly Atlanta Thrashers begin the 2012 season in Winnipeg this September, True North can be confident that there will be fans in the seats cheering on the team.
The goal was set Tuesday by True North after announcing the purchase of the Thrashers, hoping to sell out before the NHL's Board of Governors meet to vote on the purchase of the team. That goal was met just 17 minutes after tickets went on sale to the general public Saturday, as they had previously only been released to season-ticket holders for the AHL's Manitoba Moose.
"We would like to take a special moment to thank all of our fans in Winnipeg and Canada for their support over the past week, in particular, the overwhelming response of our fans which has resulted in a successful 'Drive to 13,000' campaign," said True North's president and CEO Jim Ludlow in a statement released shortly after tickets sold out.
With 13,000 tickets sold, there will be a remaining 2,000 for sale for each home game. Winnipeg has the NHL's smallest arena with a capacity of 15,000, but the quick sellout of season tickets has shown chairman Mark Chipman and the rest of True North that NHL hockey is very much viable in Winnipeg again.
In other news, True North made the first personnel move of their ownership thus far, relieving Thrashers GM Rick Dudley of his duties. As previously reported by ESPN's Pierre Lebrun, the move is mainly clearing room for True North to bring in their own people, as Dudley had just signed a four-year extension with the Thrashers back in February. He will be paid out for the next eight years in the buyout instead.
While there is no word yet on who will replace Dudley as GM in Winnipeg next year, True North is reportedly in talks with Chicago Blackhawks assistant GM Kevin Cheveldayoff for a front office job, according to the Winnipeg Free Press.
Craig Heisinger, GM of True North's Manitoba Moose is also expected to be part of the Winnipeg front office.