Even on days in which Winnipeg’s beloved Jets weren’t even in the city and on the road, in-arena viewing parties occurred in Manitoba’s capital, as those same hockey supporters made their way to Bell MTS Place to watch the games on the jumbotron.
With warm weather, cheap drinks, Jets Gear and countless food vendors on site, the Whiteout street parties were a huge success. Five massive screens, live bands, and a family area kept the party open for anyone… anyone with a ticket that is.
After hitting maximum capacity in the second round against Nashville, True North Sports and Entertainment decided to issue free tickets for the street parties. That decision did not go over well with the majority of Jets’ supporters, but as a way to save their liquor license and maintain peace with the Winnipeg Police, tickets were required upon entrance for the final home games of the playoffs.
On Monday, it was announced that over 120,000 Jets fans made their way down to the arena as members of the Whiteout street parties – thus meaning roughly 10 percent of Manitoba attended the playoff party. That number is non-inclusive of the 16,345 fans jammed into Winnipeg’s arena for each of the nine home playoff games.
It was also revealed Monday that the total cost to set up, tear down, and maintain the nine street parties was $2,167 million. True North Sports and Entertainment covered $1 million of those costs, while Economic Development Winnipeg and the City of Winnipeg banded together to cover the remainder.
Earlier in the week, Winnipeg Police Chief Danny Smyth said that he put True North Sports and Entertainment “on notice” for future street parties, as he felt the timetable to pull off such a widespread and long-lasting event was rushed tremendously.
Smyth also alluded to the fact that 250 armed officers of the Winnipeg Police were positioned throughout the Whiteout street parties for the duration of each event. Overtime pay for police totalled a whopping $788,000 over the course of the nine home playoff games.
In each of the Winnipeg Jets and Manitoba Moose home playoff games Winnipeg Harvest also got involved, collecting an onslaught of non-perishable food item donations for Manitoba’s largest food bank.
Not only can Winnipeg party, but it can party respectfully. No major incidents occurred over the course of the postseason. There were zero property damage charges, while only a handful of public intoxication arrests took place during the span of the nine playoff games.