Thrashers Takeover Approved by NHL Meaning Relocation to Winnipeg
June 22, 2011
The proposed sale of National Hockey League (NHL) franchise Atlanta Thrashers to True North Sports and Entertainment has been approved by the league’s board of governors, paving the way for the team to be relocated to Winnipeg in Canada for the start of next season.
The takeover was ratified after a unanimous decision was made among League owner’s voting on the sale and the relocation of the side. Winnipeg lost the Jets franchise to Phoenix in 1996, but the transaction price of US$170m for the Thrashers will include a $60m relocation fee to guarantee a move to a new market.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, according to The Associated Press, stated: “Obviously, everybody is sorry and distressed and unhappy that we found ourselves in the circumstance where our franchise was leaving Atlanta. We’re particularly sorry for the fans that are there, but obviously based on the reception that we’ve received, everybody is extremely excited about the opportunities in Winnipeg for our return.”
Thrashers president Don Waddell added: “It’s a sad day for hockey fans in Atlanta, but the franchise is going to a good place and run by good people. I wish them well, because a lot of good people that are going to go with them.”
Although the Winnipeg franchise has yet to decide upon a name for the team, it is certain that they will not be called the Thrashers as the franchise tries to break with its past. The team will play in the 15,015-seat MTS Center and the cap on 13,000 season tickets was reached in a matter of minutes after they sales process started earlier this month. The Thrashers had the League’s third-worst average attendance last season, pulling in gates of less than 14,000 per game.