Last year was an exciting one with the Jets making the playoffs for the first time since their return to Winnipeg and we wrote a fun piece back then about what making the playoffs might mean for Winnipeggers. Check it out here .
This year the Jets crashed and burned, and the only race they were in was the one for a high draft pick (and hopefully Auston Matthews). So with no playoffs for the Jets, what does this mean for Winnipeg’s economy? The answer is not much!
Now don’t get me wrong, the Jets are an important part of the fabric of Winnipeg and mean a lot to Winnipeggers. It provides a common bond for a lot of people from varied backgrounds and is a source of pride for the city. They are also one of the more popular entertainment options that certainly add a lustre to the city of Winnipeg. But we can’t forget that at the end of the day they are just that, an entertainment option. There are countless other entertainment options to spend money on in Winnipeg.
But what about the lost playoffs games? What about all the money that would be spent on tickets, and parking, and beer, and restaurants? Won’t that harm the economy? Here’s what I tell my sports economics students at the University of Manitoba. Professional sports don’t often have a large impact on the local economy, and to have a positive effect that team is going to have to either generate new spending by locals (that wouldn’t have otherwise spent that money locally) or bring in people from outside the region to spend money who wouldn’t have otherwise come to the city. The Winnipeg Jets have a large season ticket holder base and while I don’t know the exact breakdown, my guess is these are largely Winnipeggers. So you aren’t getting tonnes of people coming from outside the region to go these games (if anyone knows otherwise please let me know). So most of the spending is probably taking place by locals. And while it’s true that without playoff games these people won’t be spending money on Jets games as they would have, this money will likely still get spent but on something else locally instead.
So while you may hear grumbling from the bars and restaurants near the MTS Centre about how no Jets playoff games has hurt their business (and the media love to run stories like that), other restaurants, bars, movie theatres, shops, etc., throughout the city will likely see more a little money coming their way as locals continue to spend their entertainment dollars!