Manitobans are scrambling for tickets to support Winnipeg's new NHL team, but even those who couldn't care less are helping pay the costs.
With the new team requiring more revenue, the province has decided to more than double its funding for the MTS Centre.
When the arena was built in 2004, the province installed 50 video lottery terminals (VLTs) and dedicated a share of that revenue — about $1.5 million a year — to helping the owners, True North Sports and Entertainment, pay down the debt on the building.
But now that the centre is moving to the big leagues with a National Hockey League team the province is adding another 90 gaming machines at the facility, which are expected to bring in an additional $4 million a year.
The additional funding is guaranteed for 20 years, which means True North could net more than $100 million in the expanded deal.
True North president Jim Ludlow said the funding is needed to pay down debt.
"Lots of debt," Ludlow said Thursday. "It's a very long-term investment and, you know, you've got lots of private-sector risk in that, and you just want to make sure that that can be managed."
The 20-year guarantee matches the amortization period for the centre's mortgage, Ludlow said.
The province said the investment is worthwhile because the MTS Centre is a valuable community asset.