Calgary Herald

Jets’ finances sitting pretty after Year One

- TIM CAMPBELL

WINNIPEG

In their first year of operation, the Winnipeg Jets will not require NHL welfare.

It’s a late-season surprise because the assumption far and wide — including in True North Sports and Entertainm­ent’s own quarters until not very long ago — was that the Jets, playing in the NHL’S smallest building and in its smallest market, would need to participat­e in the league’s revenuesha­ring system to make their business viable.

Jets co-owner and governor Mark Chipman dropped the bombshell at a news conference on Friday, confidentl­y speculatin­g that his team’s own revenues for 2011-12 have exceeded expectatio­ns to the point where he believes the franchise won’t qualify for the NHL’S Player Compensati­on Cost Redistribu­tion System (a.k.a. revenue sharing).

To be eligible a team must be in the bottom half of the NHL in perteam gross revenue, be in a market of less than 2.5 million households, not spend more than the mid-point of the salary range and it must also meeting ticket-sales and other revenue minimums.

“Because our revenues exceeded what we expected them to be, we don’t participat­e in sharing,” Chipman said Friday. “In the end, we’re going to be in the exact same place we expected them to be. Which we feel good about.”

Chipman wouldn’t disclose the Jets’ projected revenue number for Season 1, but given his statements and other parameters, it’s likely in the $90 to $95 million range this season.

He said, later in the day, that whether the Jets total is self-generated, or enhanced by NHL welfare, the team’s total revenue is simply on target and does not put the franchise in position to spend to the ceiling of 2011-12’s $64.3 million US salary cap system. Winnipeg was in the bottom third of team payroll this season at about $52 million.

Chipman has said many times that he believes the franchise could comfortabl­y spend to the mid-point of the allowed salary range, which is currently $48.3 million to $64.3 million.

This season, the stars aligned to help True North’s cash flow.

A good start was that the Jets’ home, the MTS Centre, has been sold out all season at 15,004 seats. Broadcast revenues, both sharing in the league’s national contracts and the Jets’ own regional network, provided more than expected, as has the team’s wildly successful merchandis­ing effort.

Chipman said that True North won’t know for sure about its revenue-sharing status until the league’s revenues and finances are audited after the playoffs are over, but his point was that revenues for the NHL’S first season back in Winnipeg have exceeded expectatio­ns.

So even if the Jets are actually outside the league’s top 15 in gross revenue, they’ll be close enough to that level to make any potential revenuesha­ring payment negligible.

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