Winnipeg's NHL name to follow ticket drive

The name of Winnipeg's new NHL team won't be unveiled until the season ticket drive is done, CBC News has learned.

The name of Winnipeg's new NHL team won't be unveiled until the season ticket drive is done, CBC News has learned.

There's been plenty of speculation about when the name will be announced and what it will be. Scott Brown, communications director at True North Sports and Entertainment, said the organization is discussing that but won't make any announcement until the 13,000 season ticket benchmark is reached.

"We want people to stay focused on the process of getting the 13,000 and getting the franchise secured because if we don't get to the 13,000, then the signal that sends to the larger hockey community is not necessarily a positive one," he said.

True North launched a pre-sale on season packages on Wednesday afternoon and within 3½ hours, 1,870 season ticket packages had been sold, according to the Drive to 13,000 website.

By 4:30 p.m. CT, that number had grown to 4,170, according to the website.

Ticket-holders and corporate partners of the American Hockey League's Manitoba Moose were given the first chance to buy seats before sales are opened to the general public on Saturday.

Fans wanting the most expensive season tickets will have to commit for five years, while those looking for cheaper seats must sign up for a three-year term.

Brown is pleased with the 1,870 mark, noting those sales were primarily to the top corporate sponsors who had invested in the Moose and can most afford NHL prices.

He expects that pace will slow down and plenty of good seats will be available to the general public as of Saturday.

True North announced on Tuesday that it had entered into an agreement with Atlanta Spirit LLC with respect to the purchase of the Atlanta Thrashers Hockey Club.

The purchase of the Thrashers will be subject to approval from the NHL's board of governors at a meeting to be held June 21.

The approval of the transaction by the board will, among other things, consider the level of support generated in the Winnipeg community during a season ticket campaign, states a message on the Drive to 13 website.

Jets name popular

Winnipeg fans seem to be favouring the Jets name, judging by signs waved and vintage jerseys worn on the streets of the city Tuesday, following the announcement of the NHL's return to the city.

As well, #gojetsgo was the dominating hashtag on Twitter as hockey lovers cheered the news.

Chants of "Go Jets go" have also been shouted in the city throughout the past couple of weeks as excitement built with news of the negotiations and the eventual purchase.

Curt Keilback, the former voice of the Jets as the team's play-by-play man, also has his vote in for the Jets name. And he said there are many others, including members of the Jets alumni, who feel the same.

It was the name of the team when it was the flagship franchise in the World Hockey Association in the 1970s and the name it kept when it joined the NHL in 1979.

The NHL owns the rights to the Jets name, and Bettman told Rogers Sportsnet the league would make it available if True North wants to use it.