Winnipeg playoff hockey means big payday for True North and local businesses

The economic windfall of a single playoff game can be upwards of $2.5 million
Jets fans gather at the intersection of Portage Avenue and Main Street in Winnipeg after Winnipeg Jets clinch an NHL playoff spot. (David Lipnowski/The Canadian Press)

With NHL playoff hockey coming back to Winnipeg, we have more to look forward to than team spirit, a couple million more things. 

CBC's Information Radio spoke with Edward Fraser, managing editor of The Hockey News, to find out how much money the city stands to gain. 

"Especially for smaller market teams like the Winnipeg Jets, this is pretty big," Fraser said. "Depending on market conditions and ticket sale, concession sales and building ownership – there's a lot of variables – but NHL teams can make anywhere from a million to two million or even more per playoff home date."

By the Jets are guaranteed of two games in Winnipeg, with the potential for many more.

Follow the money

"Even if you put that money right back into the hockey team, that's a player you can sign as a free agent," Fraser said. 

In the interview with CBC, Fraser said when it comes time for players to make a choice about where they want to live, they're choosing between cities like San Jose or Los Angeles or Winnipeg. He said it would really help if Winnipeg could pay more to get free agents coming to this market, to make up for the weather.

"That's where those dollars really count." 

As some Winnipeggers have already fallen prey to fraudulent ticket sellers, Fraser notes that another clear benefactor when it comes to the playoffs are the ticket scalpers, saying "it happens in every market." 

"As much as I'd love to see that money either stay in the hands of the fans themselves or even go to the team or the players - it's a pretty big boon to the second-hand market," Fraser said.

Other indirect benefactors include the merchandise retailers, restaurants, bars, hotels and hospitality services, the list goes on according to Fraser.

​"It's a huge economic boon city-wide. I can't even begin to imagine how deep it runs."

How much do the players pocket?

Of all the people benefiting from the imminent Winnipeg playoff games, Fraser said the Jets players aren't among the top earners. 

"This is when the players play for the pride in the game. Nobody is looking for any green, everyone is looking to get their hands on the silver," Edward Fraser, Managing Editor of the Hockey News.

For example, a player on a team that loses in the first round makes about $10,000, a player that wins the Stanley Cup makes about $150,000.

"It's a relative pittance," Fraser said. "I mean for you and I - I would love to be making $10,000 just to make the playoffs. But for players whose average salaries are about $2.5 million, it's not a lot."

"This is when the players play for the pride in the game. Nobody is looking for any green, everyone is looking to get their hands on the silver."


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