Jets fans get upgrades at MTS Centre but beer and game tickets to cost more

The Winnipeg Jets start their NHL regular season on Thursday and fans will raise a more expensive beer as they take in some of the improvements they've been paying for at MTS Centre.

Team to unveil new goal song at Thursday night's season home opener

Winnipeg Jets fans will have a new goal song to cheer along with this season. It's just one of several changes around the MTS Centre. (Ann Heisenfelt/The Associated Press)

The Winnipeg Jets start their NHL regular season on Thursday and fans will raise a more expensive beer as they take in some of the improvements they've been paying for at MTS Centre.

True North Sports and Entertainment has spent $27 million over the past three years to upgrade the arena and so far Winnipeg Jets fans seem pleased with it.

Grant Shay has had season tickets since year one. He splits two different sets of tickets with groups of friends, one in section 216 and the other in the upper bowl in section 306. Shay said he's noticed improvements over the years and thinks True North has done a good job..
True North Sports and Entertainment spent $9 million on improvements to the MTS Centre this off season, including new seats throughout. (supplied)

"The washroom, bathroom situation was terrible, it's improved and that affects you throughout the game. I think if they do a little bit every year it's great," said Shay.

Shay also thinks the new scoreboard, installed in the summer of 2015, and the improved sound system has really improved the atmosphere at games.

But Shay said the concourses can be crowded and there are still some lineups when 15,294 fans enter the building.

"I find the foyers a little crowded, but of course what are you going to do about that? I don't know. The washrooms are always a deal, right? The lineups are always pretty long, I don't know if they can add anything there," said Shay.

Fans paying more

Fans are putting in their share to cover some of the cost of improvements. Ticket prices went up by two per cent in the 2012-13 season, and have increased three per cent each year since then. 

Once in the door, buying a beer will cost more this year. A 17-ounce beer back in 2011 cost $8.25. This year ,it will cost  $9.75.

Season ticket holder Grant Shay takes in the Jets last practice day at the MTS Iceplex before the Jets open their regular season Thursday night at the MTS Centre. (CBC)

More expensive beer might not be something you can sing along to but True North is hoping a brand new goal song this season will have fans finding the right note. For the first four seasons, when a Winnipeg Jet scored, Hell Yeah by Rev Theory would be piped into the rink. Last year the club made the jump to Shout by The Isley Brothers.

Gary Park has been going to about 10 games a year in the past five seasons, he said goal songs are important but that Shout just wasn't getting the fans going last year.

"Goal songs are great. They get the fans into it, obviously when the home team scores all the time,"

Shay agrees Shout just wasn't hitting the right notes with Winnipeg fans. 

"It just never caught on. I've been thinking it would be nice if they came out with one that the fans could really latch onto, and I don't think they've done that yet so maybe it's to come," said Shay.

New goal song revealed tonight

True North won't reveal the new goal song until the home team scores.

There are a handful of teams that have catchy goal songs including The Chicago Blackhawks, who have one of the most iconic goal songs - Chelsea Dagger by the Fratellis. It gets fans off their feet chanting in unison and opposing players have said it makes them cringe.

Park said MTS Centre, though small and intimate, has a great atmosphere. He's hoping the Jets score often on Thursday night to give fans many chances to hear the new song.

The New York Rangers goal song Slapshot by organist Ray Castoldi also gets the fans in Manhattan on their feet, chanting together.
The first incarnation of the Winnipeg Jets, the Arizona Coyotes, celebrate to a pretty catchy remake of Howlin' For You by the Black Keys.

Millions in improvements

Investment into the downtown arena started the first year. True North invested $7 million in 2011 for the press box, wiring the rink with HD broadcast cabling and increases to the concourse food and beverage capacity.

  • In the summer of 2014, True North spent $6 million extending the upper concourse, offering circulation space, food and beverage spaces (including restaurants Tower and Heroes), washroom expansions and improvements to the Jets Gear store.
  • In summer 2015, True North invested approximately $12 million on a centre-hung scoreboard, installation of the loge seating and power ring LED. Digital enhancements were added to the press room and the Zamboni entrance. There were upgrades to the HD production room, cameras and cabling of the building. There was also work done preparing the Moose and visiting AHL team complexes and renovation work to all 55 suites on the Premium Suite Concourse.
    True North upgraded railings to seamless glass to improve sight lines in the upper bowl. (supplied)
  • This past summer, True North invested approximately $9 million on new seating throughout the MTS Centre. They also upgraded railings to seamless glass to improve sight lines and added an organ player in the bowl. True North also added more than 350 new screens throughout the concourses.
  • True North will spend another $10 to $12 million on concourse improvements in the next 12 to 24 months.