The distinctive design of the Bell MTS Place by Denver, Colorado, architects Sink Combs Dethlefs reflects and illuminates Portage Avenue and the surrounding area, bringing new light, life and animation to downtown Winnipeg. The unique architecture combines contemporary glass, precast concrete and steel to fit well with the fabric of Winnipeg's downtown and recalls the tradition of historic Canadian sports palaces like the Montreal Forum and Maple Leaf Gardens. This building, along with other major projects, is contributing to the revitalization of Winnipeg's downtown.
"Winnipeg's downtown is its heart - it must be healthy if the city as a whole is to be fit and strong. Its health is a measure of its economic vitality, its social vibrancy and its physical attractiveness. In the end, the streets and buildings, the people, the businesses, the activities, merge to fashion the image that Winnipeggers hold of their city. It is also the image that visitors take home with them. As a result, our reputation as a city rests with our downtown."
The Bell MTS Place, a fifteen thousand seat multi-purpose arena in downtown Winnipeg, is already in the record books as the 25th best attended stadium in the world in 2005. Bell MTS Place can also accommodate up to 17,000 concert-goers, and can be curtained down to create intimate concert entertainment settings for smaller audiences.
The ice surface can convert from standard North American professional hockey dimensions (85 ft. by 200 ft.) to international hockey dimensions (100 ft. by 200 ft.). The rink boards and first six rows of seating are easily removed to create 30,000 square feet of exhibition floor space.
The design incorporates the features and spectator amenities of the best new-generation entertainment and sports centres built across North America in recent years. This includes a private suite level, rental party suites, an extensive club seat package, quality food outlets, and a Moxie's restaurant. It also features three wide concourses, a Moose sports retail store, ample washrooms and the redevelopment of the old Eaton's Powerhouse into the sports pub, Tavern United, as well as several floors of new office space. The Bell MTS Place project cost $133.5 million to build.
The first principles of the design are excellent sight lines from every seat, superb acoustics for concerts and the best ambience and amenities for sports of all kinds - hockey, basketball, curling, arena football, lacrosse, and indoor soccer.
Precast concrete is always a serious option for arena construction and was the product of choice with the design and construction team. Winter construction and a tight schedule made precast the right solution. Precast was utilized for all the main staircases, the bleachers, vomitory walls and stairs. In addition, the ice level structural frame was precast.
Phase one involved the demolition of the century-old Eaton's Building and annex, and clearing the 147,000-square-foot site for the new complex. Phase two consisted of construction of the building. The concrete superstructure was built over a period of eight months using over 20,000 cubic yards of concrete and over 616,000 square feet of formwork. The concrete work was completed using PCL's labour force and equipment that included four freestanding tower cranes.
The original schedule for the construction phase was 24 months. Working closely with the ownership group, PCL undertook a number of initiatives to reduce the project duration to 21 months. This gave the owner earlier access to the building to begin hosting events and earning revenue.
Some measures taken to meet the opening date included doubling the quantity of formwork, increasing the labour force and working overtime through the concrete work.
All other construction activities were tendered to trade contractors. PCL, however, provided on-site supervision to these trades and bore responsibility for scheduling their activities. Both the self-performed concrete work and the subcontracted work yielded a number of project management challenges that needed to be organized and managed. The final project schedule required over 1,100 activities to be performed by the project team, consisting of PCL, nine consulting groups, a diverse ownership group (with subtrades working for them), and 35 subtrades under contract to PCL. All activities had to take place within an extremely aggressive schedule, on a tight job site, for the highest profile project in Manitoba at that time.
Sink Combs Dethlefs architects were familiar with precast concrete from its use in the design of other facilities. This facilitated an effective design process. Precast concrete was specified because of the tight schedule and its natural fit with this type of structure.
Precast components included: staircases, columns, raker beams, vomitory walls and bleachers. In total some 1500 precast units were produced for this project.
Precast manufacturing and erection went well. Single L-shaped bleacher sections were selected mainly to suit tower crane lift capacity limits. To accelerate the schedule, the precast field team worked at night. As the only trade working at night, excellent productivity was achieved and the 1,500 precast pieces were erected at a rate of up to 50 units a shift. The staging of loads was also facilitated by working at night as the congested downtown location and traffic management during the day would have been a serious issue.
Corporate Winnipeg Ready to Support NHL Team
By PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency
October 22, 2010
The Winnipeg Sun got the opinions of local business owners who currently use corporate suites at MTS Centre.
Much of the debate about whether or not Winnipeg could support an NHL franchise has been guess work.
Economic experts saying this, the man on the street saying that and people believing what they want.
For example, would a team here have enough corporate support?
Instead of guessing, we decided to find out.
The results, like a rising slapshot from the unknown rookie, caught us off guard.
A series of interviews suggests Winnipeg’s business community is waiting, chequebook in hand, for the chance to make an NHL team here viable.
The Sun contacted about one-third of the luxury suite holders at MTS Centre, and 17 of the 25 executives we reached said they would renew their suites at our predicted NHL price, which is triple the current rate.
Three more said they’d reduce their portion of their suites but stay involved, while three said they weren’t sure.
Just two of the 25 said the high price tag would force them out of the game.
“There is a high level of excitement about the return of an NHL team,” Carol Paradine, managing partner with accounting firm Deloitte, said. “We do have suites in most of our major market places and this probably wouldn’t be any different.”
Even though the yearly cost of leasing a suite is expected to soar from an average of around $60,000 to $180,000 (private suites in Edmonton start at around $150,000).
“I’ve heard people say it’s a lot of money, but they’d still do it,” David MacAngus, president of Winnipeg Building and Decorating, said. “It slipped away once before, and I don’t think corporate Winnipeg wants to see it happen again.”
Many firms, like the two noted above, already share luxury boxes with other companies, a practice that would likely increase in the pricey world of the NHL.
“I’m pretty sure we would scale back what percentage we have there today,” said Curtis Wyatt of Wyatt Dowling Insurance, which splits a suite, 50-50, with a partner.
That scale back, though, could be made up in new corporations jumping on the big-league bandwagon.
“A lot of people who don’t have a suite today would reconsider if the NHL came back,” Wyatt said.
Charlie Spiring of Wellington West Capital agrees.
“There will be a changeover,” Spiring said. “But it will be a layup.”
With Spiring going up for an early slam dunk.
“We will be the first to sign up.”
He may have some competition.
MTS, Keystone Ford, Princess Auto, Maple Leaf Construction, W.K. Chan Jewellers, Carlyle Printing, the Winnipeg Sun, Qualico Homes, Manitoba Blue Cross and Lazer-Grant, a local accounting and business advisory service, were among the companies vowing to beef up their contributions.
“Certain concerts have huge demand and it has great value for us,” Derek Johannson, chairman of Carlyle Printing, said. “My sense is the NHL would be the same. It’s certainly a leap of faith at the start. Probably we would take that leap of faith.
“Talking to our customers, there is tremendous excitement and anticipation.”
Business types generally use their suites to woo clients and reward employees. So it’s a perk, but one with potential financial rewards.
“Our guys are big hockey fans,” Blake Fitzpatrick, co-owner of Maple Leaf Construction, said. “It’s our way of entertaining our guys.”
But even Fitzpatrick acknowledges there are limits.
And two of the executives we talked to said tripling the price would force them out.
“We’d probably sell it,” said Elite Communications boss Scott Greer, who shares a suite with three others. “It’s expensive. Probably too expensive for what our benefit would be. We’re pushing it right now. We’re a relatively small company on the Winnipeg landscape.”
Greer says he’d love to see the NHL return, but just isn’t sure it would be sustainable, long-term.
One executive, choosing to remain anonymous, went one step further, saying Winnipeg is actually better off without the NHL because people can better spread their money around.
“There’s no way we could continue,” he said of his company’s suite lease. “Most of us here don’t really want the NHL. I just can’t see the building selling out on a Wednesday in the middle of January.”
But the vast majority are watching the clock with anticipation, counting down the days and months — maybe years, considering it looks like the Phoenix Coyotes are staying put — until that first NHL faceoff.
One hand holding a Jets pom-pom, the other their wallet.
“There would be sticker shock,” John Daniels of Qualico said. “And then support.”
WORDS FROM THE SUITES
“Winnipeg is a big-league city. And there’s a lot of quiet money out there that a lot of people don’t realize.”
—Bob Kozminski, Keystone Ford
“Everybody talks about head offices, but it’s not just head offices. (We have) many companies with a presence across Canada.”
— Blake Fitzpatrick, Maple Leaf Construction
“It’s certainly a leap of faith at the start. Probably we would take that leap of faith.”
— Derek Johannson, Carlyle Printing
“There’s a strong chance we’d support it the first three years and then evaluate it.”
— Anonymous executive
“It slipped away once before, and I don’t think corporate Winnipeg wants to see it happen again.”
— David MacAngus, Winnipeg Building and Decorating
“We’ll support it. However, we’d like to support it at double (the current price, not triple).”
— Joel Lazer, Lazer-Grant
“Most of us here don’t really want the NHL. The city has become better since the Jets left.”
— Anonymous executive
“The city’s got a big sticker shock coming.”
— Anonymous executive
“There will be sticker shock. And then support.”
— John Daniels, Qualico Homes
THE ULTIMATE SPORTS ROAD TRIP
By: Andrew Kulyk & Peter Farrell
January 8-9, 2005 - The face and image of hockey in Manitoba can best be personified by the old Winnipeg Arena - the WHA Avco Cup championships, the fan "white outs", the massive portrait of Queen Elizabeth II hanging from the rafters, Bobby Hull and the Winnipeg Jets. But in 1996, their NHL team was brutally ripped from this city for the deserts of Arizona. The minor league Manitoba Moose filled the void, but it just wasn't the same. The franchise needed a buzz.
And now they got it ! The sparkling new MTS Centre is the downtown home of the AHL Manitoba Moose. It opened with great fanfare in November of 2004, and hockey fans in these parts are reconnecting with the sport they love and starting new traditions and making new memories in the process.
Getting to the Venue
The arena is built on the site of the old Eaton's department store, on Portage Avenue, which is the de facto main drag in this city. Winters here can be rough, so the city built an elaborate and well laid out series of overhead covered skywalks throughout downtown to take you from building to building, and the MTS Centre seems to be geocentrically positioned. Plenty of surface lots and ramps within easy walking distance to the arena, and traffic seems to flow well and disperse easily after the game.
We should mention here that downtown Winnipeg is typical of most Canadian cities that we have visited - clean streets, little or no blight, safe to walk around. The Portage Place shopping mall is a block away from the arena, and plenty of high rise hotels also within easy walking distance. Their baseball stadium, CanWest Global Park is about a half mile to the east along the river, and houses an independent league team, although it is built to AAA standards.
Architecture and Design
The building has a really cool look, kind of a sweeping glass "wave" which marks the roof line along Portage Avenue. A cylindrical shaped glass atrium serves as the main entrance, and colorful banners hang inside and give this building a nice look. At night the facade is floodlit in bright blues and greens, giving yet another colorful dimension to the exterior.
Concourses and Seating Bowl
This is actually a three level building, with upper and lower concourses, and a suite concourse in between. Escalators in the main atrium take fans up and down, and also double as part of the skywalk system, so one actually has to leave the interior concourse and rescan your ticket to re-enter at a different level. Concourse section signage is really nice here - murals of the area's "northern lights" in the sky are photographed in wooded settings, the lights being so typical in this region. And the murals are done in soft blues and greens, so the concourses have a sort of country lodge feel to them. At the north end concourse is a display for the "Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame", plaques of notables from this region.
The seating bowl here is two levels, with a ring of 50 suites at the top of the lower bowl, but access to the suites is via a separate concourse. A four sided Daktonics video board and companion LED stat boards, and a "power ring", what they call the 360 degree surround ribbon board around the balcony, serves as the state of the art electronic set up here. Interestingly, the Moose did not bring all their old championship banners from the old arena. Instead they commissioned three distinct banners titled "Heritage Arenas" wherein they display lists of the former Winnipeg hockey venues, the teams that played there and the championships they won. Very nicely done!
In addition to the 50 suites, club seating can be found in the north end zone and corners in the lower level. These seats are accessed via a private club area called the "John Labatt Lounge" offering full bar service and drink rails with a great view of the ice. Right below in the basement is a premium restaurant called "The Exchange Restaurant and Beer Market".
A "Moxies Grill" casual dining restaurant is located on the street level along Portage, open to fans inside and patrons from the outside. Concessions here tie into local themes, with "Red River Grill", "Voyageur Smokehouse" and "Northern Lites Snacks" among them. A couple unique items? The "Pickerel Fingers", a fish indigenous to this area, or try the "Poutine", cheese curds dipped in gravy. But Andrew's favorite? Easily the "Ukrainian Platter", potato pyrohy smothered in onions and sour cream, and served with sliced kielbasa. Mmmmmm! But memo to MTS Centre - with all that's been going on in Ukraine lately, shouldn't the Grillworks Ukrainian food stand canopy be redone in orange!?
Hat Tricks, Assists, Penalties...
Assist... Gotta give props to Manitoba Moose staffers Scott Brown and Kevin Moore for going out of their way to make this visit to Winnipeg truly extraordinary. Thanks guys and we welcome you into the USRT Hall of Fame!
Penalty... In a unique marketing strategy, the Moose have cordoned off the upper level, and sell only 8812 seats per game. They are doing so to build demand for their product and eliminate the perception that a hockey ticket here is easy to get. While we applaud their thinking, we didn't get the feel and panorama of what this building really is like, because the entire balcony was shrouded with black curtains.
Hat Trick... To Winnipeg hockey fans who are responding by buying tickets and supporting the team. Granted, there will always be the curiosity factor with a new venue, but 11 sellouts in the first two months since opening is still quite a feat!
Penalty and Game Misconduct... To Jetsgo Airlines, for lousing up our travel itinerary on both legs of our flights. Outbound was cancelled, and we had to spend time and energy seeking alternative plans. The return flight was not only delayed, but getting luggage onto the carousel on arrival at Pearson took 45 minutes. Unacceptable!
We need to applaud this community for making their dream of a new arena a reality. When the NHL Jets moved from here in 1996, there was a lot of despair and a hangover which persists to this day, and perhaps a feeling that they are now a second tier city. Not so! To begin with, as visitors we could feel a sense of vitality and excitement here which is not unlike Canadian cities such as Toronto or Vancouver, perhaps not as big sizewise but still there. Second, everything about the MTS Centre is major league - the modern architecture and amenities, the superb location, and everything the Moose do as far as game day presentation matches up with the show you will see in most NHL arenas.
Can this be an NHL city once again? At first glance our answer would be "no", because, despite all this building has to offer, it lacks the size and public spaces which peer NHL venues have in this day and age. The premium amenities are way insufficient in today's economics to raise the funds needed to sustain salaries at the NHL level. And Winnipeg people seem to be a lot like Buffalo people - hard working, blue collar types who understand the value of a buck, unlike the idiot lemmings in Toronto who will gladly pony up C$195 for a lower level seat at a Leafs game, kids dental work or mortgage payments be damned.
For now, not too many people here seem to care - they have a beautiful arena to showcase their city to the world, and a competitive team to root for in the AHL. And if out of the ashes of the NHL labor dispute comes some sanity and a new economic structure, perhaps a return to the Bigs for Winnipeg isn't such a pipe dream after all.
ECONOMISTS RECOMMEND NHL FOR WINNIPEG, QUEBEC
May 5, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures
Montreal, Quebec - Two economists at the Conference Board of Canada say it may be a good
idea for the NHL to put teams in Winnipeg and Quebec City, the Montreal Gazette reported. A report argues clearly that the necessary factors Ð defined as market size; income levels; a
strong corporate presence; and a level playing field Ð are not only present in the two cities, but are comparable to other Canadian cities with NHL franchises, and even better in some cases.
The caveat, of course, is that Winnipeg, which lost its Jets in 1996 to Phoenix, and Quebec City, which saw its Nordiques head southwest to Colorado in 1995, remain small markets with a shallow corporate pool to draw from for season tickets and luxury suites.
"It's a tough call," Mario Lefebvre, director of the board's center for municipal studies and co-author of the report, told the Gazette.
"This will take some fine planning; it will take some people working really hard behind the scenes, making sure that corporations are in for the long run."
He says people in Quebec City have boasted to him about being able to sell luxury suites before they even attract a team, let alone build the new arena that will be necessary to support an NHL franchise.
"That's called frenzy of a new adventure," Lefebvre says. "You are going to sell it for the first year, first two years, and who knows maybe even the first three years, but it's the long-term dedication that you will need."
According to Lefebvre and Glen Hodgson, a senior vice-president and chief economist at the Conference Board, populations in Quebec City and Winnipeg are large enough to support another professional sports franchise, and those people have the disposable income to pay for tickets.
The newspaper says the "level playing field" argument is perhaps the most compelling - part of what drove the Nordiques and the Jets out of Canada in the first place was the extremely low Canadian dollar, and rising salaries paid to players in U.S. dollars.
But with a salary cap taking care of one of those factors, and the Canadian dollar expected to stay at par with the U.S. dollar for the foreseeable future, "under these conditions, Quebec City and Winnipeg could compete with larger markets on an ongoing basis," the report concludes.
Both cities have buyers lined up. In Winnipeg it's the partnership of True North Sports & Entertainment's Mark Chipman and Thomson Reuters chairman David Thomson, and in Quebec City, president and CEO of the Quebecor media company, Pierre Karl Peladeau.
Lefebvre and Hodgson are not alone in asserting that the two cities could support NHL teams - a report last month from Tony Keller, a fellow at the Mowat Centre for Policy Innovation at the University of Toronto, made the same claim, the Gazette reported.
Jim Kyte, who developed the Sports Business Management program at Algonquin College in Ottawa and is now the chair of the marketing and management department there, consulted on the report. He said he thinks Lefebvre and Hodgson have constructed a compelling argument, but he has his reservations.
"I don't know if there's an appetite to support professional sport franchises," Kyte, who started his NHL career in the 1982-83 season with the Winnipeg Jets and stayed for six years before moving on and playing his last season in the league with San Jose in 1995-96, told the Gazette.
The first five years would likely be fine, but "after that, when the honeymoon period is over, and perhaps they haven't made the playoffs for five years in a row," it could be harder.
EXCLUSIVE TALKS ON HAWKS END; NEGOTIATIONS ON THRASHERS GOES ON
May 26, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures
Atlanta, Ga. - Negotiations between the Atlanta Spirit and True North Sports and
Entertainment continued as a deal to sell and relocate the Thrashers to Winnipeg moved closer, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Lawyers for Atlanta Spirit, True North and the NHL are still exchanging drafts and terms but a deal was not finalized.
Also, the newspaper said the last hope of finding a buyer willing to keep the Thrashers in Atlanta appears over. The final prospective buyer in negotiations with the Atlanta Spirit is no longer interested in pursuing a sale. The potential buyer is "probably but not completely" out of the picture, according to a person familiar with the negotiations, speaking to the newspaper on the condition of anonymity.
True North is led by Winnipeg businessman Mark Chipman and billionaire David Thomson and owns Winnipeg's arena, the MTS Centre and the American Hockey League team that plays there, the Manitoba Moose. The group turned its attention to the Thrashers after a deal, that involved public money, was reached to keep the Phoenix Coyotes in Arizona several weeks ago.
Key issues between the Atlanta Spirit and True North, such as price, appear to be settled. The price is believed to be $170 million, with $110 million going to the seller and $60 million to the league as a relocation fee.
The signing of a definitive agreement would not be the final step in the process: The deal would have to be approved by the NHL Board of Governors.
Meanwhile, the Spirit and outgoing San Diego Padres owner John Moores agreed to terminate Moores' exclusive negotiating period on a possible purchase of the Hawks and management of Philips Arena, Spirit partner Michael Gearon Jr. confirmed.
"We no longer have an exclusivity," Gearon told the Journal-Constitution. "It was ended by mutual agreement after preliminary discussions."
The Spirit says no qualified buyer Ð a buyer with the documented financial ability to complete a deal Ð has expressed serious interest in buying the Hawks, Thrashers and Philips Arena operating rights as a package. The group bought all three entities from Time Warner in 2004.
WINNIPEG ACHIEVES GOAL OF 13,000 SEASON TICKETS
June 9, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures
Winnipeg, Manitoba - True North Sports and Entertainment's 'Drive to 13,000' season-ticket
campaign lasted less than 72 hours as the last tickets were claimed within 17 minutes of the campaign's opening, the Winnipeg Free Press reported. By shortly after 2 p.m., a ticket waiting list had been capped at 8,000 people.
The pre-sale set aside exclusively for Manitoba Moose season-ticket and mini-pack holders and corporate sponsors reached 7,158 by with the remaining 5,842 commitments gobbled up quickly not long after the on-line window opened.
"It's a testament to everybody in the city and we owe a lot to our fans in the city, this province and across Canada because we had people buying from across Canada," Jim Ludlow, President & CEO, True North Sports & Entertainment, told the newspaper. "It's a very, very powerful message that goes out throughout North America to 29 other NHL cities."
Season-ticket commitments, made through the a special website and requiring C$500 to C$1,000 deposits for commitments of three, four or five years, were capped at 13,000. That will leave fewer than 1,000 tickets available on a per game basis to the general public as the luxury suites take an additional 1,000 seats while the NHL requires a few hundred seats be set aside for players, their families and league executives.
Meanwhile, work has already begun to renovate the luxury suite inventory at the MTS Centre. The number of suites will increase from 48 to 55, although some will be reduced from 16 seats to 12.
June 16, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures
CTV says that an announcement regarding naming rights to Winnipeg's arena will happen likely this week. MTS bought naming rights with a 10-year deal in 2003 for the facility, which opened the following year as the MTS Centre. The venue will be the future home of the Thrashers which are moving from Atlanta.
June 23, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures
The Atlanta Thrashers will officially move out of Philips Arena and into the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, with the NHL's approval of True North Sports and Entertainment as the team's new owner, the Winnipeg Sun reported. The arena will continue to be called MTS Centre until at least 2021, when the telecommunications company will have the option to extend its naming rights for another 10 years. The building was referred to as the True North Centre until MTS bought the original rights in December 2003 - prior to its opening - and has been known only as MTS Centre for its entire operating life. Neither side would divulge the financial details of the deal, although True North president Jim Ludlow told the Sun it's "absolutely" a multi-million dollar deal that will "provide sustainability and long-term viability" for the NHL club.