Not that anyone asked, but here is my opinion on the whole NHL-coming-back-to-Winnipeg thing.
I think it’s great. I was sad when the Jets left. I remember putting my Slurpee change in the “Save the Jets” box at 7-11 about three days before they left town. I enjoy hockey. I am looking forward to having a team to cheer for that wasn’t chosen by default (Canadian) or aesthetics (red uniforms are always better than blue).
I will go to some games. I would even consider splitting season’s tickets with others if we could all agree on an equitable way of dividing them.
I am all for having an NHL team in Winnipeg.
I am not, and will never be in favour of any government money being used to support the team. This is entertainment, folks. Nothing more. Yes, the players may raise money for charities here and there, but there will be no lives saved as a direct result of the presence of the NHL in Winnipeg. No kids will receive a better education, no criminal will enjoy a successful rehabilitation and head permanently down the straight and narrow because we have the Jets.
The peripheral benefits are huge, yes. Increased tax revenues, 30 new millionaires looking for real estate, a renewed city spirit. Huge beer sales at games. Takeout pizza on game nights. Maybe some infrastructure renewal on the Stanley Cup parade route. All of that is great.
But we can barely afford the hospitals/schools/jails/transportation infrastructure we need. And yes, these are things we need. I do not think anyone has ever died due to lack of entertainment. People do actually die on crappy roads or in the lineup for cardiac bypass surgery.
In the end, hockey is business. If the franchise is not sustainable without government cash, it is not sustainable at all.
Now I have never taken an economics course, but I’m certain that Chipman has, and is ok with the prospects. There will be a few years, no doubt, where True North can take a little loss, if only so they don’t need to eat Bettman’s crow. But if it doesn’t turn around and at the very least give them a nice little write-off and 82 games per year of entertainment within a few short seasons, we will either be saying goodbye again, or revisiting the debate over whether the government has any role to play in entertaining the masses.
In my humble opinion, entertainment should be funded by those who will be entertained, and no one else. I know a few families whose interest in sports extends only as far as wondering why their drive home through Portage & Main tonight took so long. I’m sure that if any of them was waiting for an MRI, they’d be pretty ticked if the money for the new scanner – tax dollars – went instead to pay a hockey player’s salary.
We may be able to have it all – sports AND health care, education, safe neighbourhoods, and pavement that does not look like it was recently transplanted from Afghanistan – but not with tax money. When I want to do something frivolous, I choose what I will give up. If we let our governments fund professional sport, they will be forced to cut something else.
If I was forced to choose between chemo and hockey, I know what I’d choose.