Winnipeg Jets




  • Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Opened 2004
  • Capacity 15,321
  • Games attended: 2
  • Last visited: 2024


When the original Jets franchise left for Phoenix, prospects were grim about Winnipeg ever getting a team back. The arena was old and undersized and there was little hope of a new one being built. The market was the smallest in the league. The relative lack of corporate money in Winnipeg meant that the season ticket base relied more on regular hockey fans whose pockets weren’t as deep. And the Canadian dollar was at an all-time low, making things challenging even for the Big Market Canadian teams.

But when city council decided that an arena was an optimal replacement for a shuttered downtown Eaton’s Department Store, they managed to wedge a 15,045-seat venue into the space by building it right to the sidewalk. The arena led to a glimmer of hope. Then the NHL agreed to a salary cap and salary floor. Then the Canadian dollar hit par with the U.S. dollar. Then a viable owner emerged. Then the Thrashers, after being unable to draw flies in Atlanta, came up for sale. Suddenly the Jets were back.

Subsequent modifications brought capacity up to 15,321, still the lowest in the NHL for any team not sharing its rink with a college team. And for the first decade or so upon returning, those 15,321 seats had enthusiastic hockey fans in them every night.

But COVID really put a damper on things. Many of the season ticket holders didn’t renew once things opened back up. The huge waiting list dried up. And suddenly some of those original problems starting creeping back in. Seats were going unsold, and excitement faded. The team is at a crossroads now, and it’s hard to say where it’ll be by the end of the decade, I am hoping that the great fans rally and the team stays put, because for a while, this was among the best atmospheres in the league.

It’s Still a Good Rink

The aviator theme of blue and steel is prevalent throughout the building. The arena is connected to Winnipeg’s skywalk system, allowing fans avoid the harsh Winnipeg winter by trekking to the game via the indoor walkway system. While downtown Winnipeg isn’t exactly The French Quarter of New Orleans, you still have several bars and restaurants in the vicinity of the rink for pre or post-game festivities.

The fans that still show up are into it. They get loud when the Jets first take the ice, serenading them with a “Go Jets Go”. While the honeymoon is over, many still shout out “True North” during that part of O Canada as a thank you to True North Sports and Entertainment who brought the NHL back to Winnipeg. Jets fans know not just the Jets but the opposing team, allowing them to taunt the opposition goalie by name and come up with semi-intelligent group chants (like when Ovechkin was in town, they started a “Crosby’s better”). The Upper bowl is rowdier than the lower bowl, but everything remains in good fun. The playoffs really bring out the best, as fans participate in the White Out which is truly a site to behold.

Getting to and from is easy with traffic never really being an issue. Tickets are accessible and affordable. The sightlines are great. And the scoreboard is a good size as well.

Mind you, there are some shortcomings. The concourses are very tight. Amenities are relatively spartan vs. other rinks. Plus you’re in Winnipeg in winter which can be outright brutal. I’d argue it’s the worst weather city in North American sports. During hockey season, and there are several nights where it gets so cold, it doesn’t matter if the temperature is in Fahrenheit or Celsius.

These issues aside, I loved my Jets game experiences and place this arena above others with technically better buildings. I hope the attendance lull is temporary, and owners find a way to fill the place again. After all, hockey belongs here.