'Fierce Winnipeg pride': Whiteout Street Parties expanding again for 2nd round of playoffs

The Winnipeg Jets Whiteout Street Party is once again expanding.

Cost of downtown street parties revealed to be $394K so far

The Whiteout Street Party has become a ticket-only affair. (John Woods/Canadian Press)

The Winnipeg Jets Whiteout Street Party is once again expanding.

Organizers of the party, held outside Bell MTS Place for Jets home games during the playoffs, are pushing the boundaries of the event eastward down Graham Street for the first Round 2 home game against the Nashville Predators, on May 1.

The next round of parties will be able to accommodate an additional 5,000 fans, bringing the total to 20,000. 

"In Round 1 we saw the city come out in an unprecedented wave of support for their city," said Dayna Spiring, president and CEO of Economic Development Winnipeg in a release Thursday.

"The Winnipeg Whiteout Street Party has put our city on the map. People from across North America were amazed by the energy of our hockey fans, as well as our fierce Winnipeg pride."

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The expansion will see the party grow from its current spot on Donald Street south of Portage Avenue to include a stretch of Graham Avenue up to Garry Street as well as Smith Street between Graham and Portage Avenues.

Organizers are also adding a new screen, measuring 11 metres by 6.7 metres, more vendors and amenities to accommodate the larger space.
The expansion will see the party grow from Donald Street south of Portage Avenue to Graham Avenue up to Garry Street as well as Smith Street between Graham and Portage Avenues. (Submitted by Economic Development Winnipeg)

Tuesday's street party will be the fourth since the Jets started their playoff run April 11.

Paying the price to party 

Also part of Thursday's announcement was a breakdown spelling out exactly how much is being spent on the parties.

According to Economic Development Winnipeg, the three parties held so far cost a total of $394,000.

Of that, Jets and Bell MTS Place owner True North Sports & Entertainment has kicked in $226,000 — including $30,000 to the city to help cover the cost of policing and rerouting transit buses around the party.

Economic Development Winnipeg has paid $28,000 to cover costs for street closures, barricades, and other required permits.

Economic Development Winnipeg say the three parties held during the first round cost a total of $394,000. (Mike Sudoma/Canadian Press)

The remaining $140,000 is being covered by the City of Winnipeg through existing council-approved budgets, according to the release from Economic Development Winnipeg.

Michael Jack, chief corporate services officer with the City of Winnipeg, says the director of Winnipeg Transit and the chief of the Winnipeg Police Service have been working within their existing budgets to help accommodate the added costs of the events.

He says the city doesn't yet have a cap on how many parties it can handle financially.

"We're asking all of the directors involved to do their best, to be efficient and as economical as they can with service provision," he said. "No one knows how deep we'll go.… If costs balloon in a way that we didn't expect, that's something we'll deal with.

"It's a massive undertaking but one we're proud to be part of."

Mayor Brian Bowman's office has committed $120,000 from the Civic Initiatives Fund to Economic Development Winnipeg "to support their leadership role in organizing the initial three street parties and for the duration of the Winnipeg Jets' post-season," Thursday's release said.

Political party?

The figures were revealed by Economic Development Winnipeg only hours after North Kildonan city councillor Jeff Browaty grilled the mayor over the costs at Winnipeg's city council.

Bowman had refused to give the numbers at the time but did concede some of the money would come from his office's Civic Initiative Fund.

The first street party saw just Donald Street between Portage and Graham closed off for fans, but the space was expanded for the next game when an estimated 9,000 people showed up in a space designed for 5,500.

The second event added an extra block south of Graham, an alcohol-free zone for families at Millennium Library Park, two more viewing screens and even more vendors.

The party was expanded again for Game 5 of the series to make room for about 15,000.

Organizers estimate 35,000 people attended the three parties during the first round.

Spiring says as the Jets get deeper into the playoffs, and the parties grow larger and attract more and more fans, organizers will continue to evaluate the success of the events. She isn't ruling out the possibility they'll be expanded further.

"The citizens of Winnipeg have really shown us what this event means to them and we're happy to be ramping it up for Round 2," she said. "Hopefully we're here celebrating at the end of Round 2 and talking about how we're ramping it up again."

While Spiring says it's too soon to know exactly what the economic impact of the parties has been for the city, she says downtown restaurants, bars and hotels have been packed thanks to the events.

"We're hearing these stories. We know the economic impacts are happening," she said.

For Round 2, Games 1 and 2 will be played in Nashville April 27 and 29, while Games 3 and 4 will be played in Winnipeg May 1 and 3.

The May 1 street party will start at 5 p.m. and the May 3 party gets underway at 7 p.m.