The Winnipeg Jets won’t be moving home games out of the province, after all.
The update comes after team owner True North Sports + Entertainment sent fans a survey on Thursday afternoon, asking how they would feel about the NHL team moving home games to a region that doesn’t have restrictions on fan attendance.
A spokesperson for True North said Thursday that the team was exploring alternatives to playing in an empty building and consulting stakeholders.
Elliotte Friedman, a reporter with Hockey Night in Canada and Sportsnet, said it was believed the team was looking at Saskatoon’s SaskTel Centre as a potential venue.
Saskatchewan doesn’t have any capacity restrictions, while Manitoba currently limits attendance at professional sporting events to either 50 per cent capacity or 250 people, whichever is less.
Manitoba’s current public health rules, which also require proof of vaccination at large events like Jets games, are set to last until at least Tuesday.
On Friday morning, the president and chief operating officer of the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Club and True North told season ticket holders in an email that the team’s home games will stay at Winnipeg’s Canada Life Centre.
That means attendance will be capped at 250 fans until public health orders change.
That decision was based in part on feedback the owners got from the survey, which suggested 40 per cent of seat holders had negative feelings about relocating home games, while 30 per cent were neutral to the idea and the remaining 30 per cent were supportive if it helped the hockey club, the email from John Olfert said.
The survey, which got several thousand responses, also suggested only half of the team’s fans would go to games right now if that were allowed by public health orders, while 28 per cent would be hesitant and 22 per cent were undecided.
Those numbers improved marginally for home games with capacity cut in half, Olfert’s email said.
The survey also got mixed responses to the possibility of using medical-grade masks, getting rid of food and beverage service and barring unvaccinated kids from attending.
The open-ended comments submitted with the survey demonstrated a range of themes, the email said.
“First and foremost, the strongest theme was that Winnipeg Jets fans are concerned for the health and safety of our community, in Manitoba and beyond,” it said.
“Additional themes included sentiments of pandemic fatigue, a strong desire for fans to watch games in Canada Life Centre, and support for True North to continue to abide by public health orders.”
The team also encouraged people to wear masks and get vaccinated against COVID-19 — including a booster shot — when eligible.
More details about ticket holders’ accounts will be shared once postponed games have been rescheduled and once Manitoba’s next set of public health orders is announced, which is expected to happen in the coming days, the email said.
Last week, the NHL announced it was postponing eight games involving Canadian teams because of attendance restrictions in certain provinces.
That included a Jets home game on Jan. 16, when the team was supposed to face the Edmonton Oilers.