Winnpeg's MTS Centre - The Loudest Arena In The NHL

by Kory

One thing that Winnipeg fans were always proud to claim their own in the 90's was the title of being the loudest city in the NHL. The 'Old Barn' , as it was referred to around the city, was where WHA cups were won, WHA banners were raised, and where the NHL called home for 16 years. Visiting teams were always in awe of the ear piercing decible levels that were cultivated from the heart of the city; a fanbase who fed that heartbeat with a blood filled with everything hockey, everything Jets.

Fast forward 15 years and Winnipeg has found itself, once again, at the top of the list when it comes to deafening NHL arenas.

It all began on September 20th, 2011. The Columbus Blue Jackets and Winnipeg Jets were involved in a split squad game, which would be the first time the new Winnipeg Jets would take to the ice in front of their home crowd. Although this wasn't the official home opener, the energy in the building made you feel as if the Jets were about to take the ice in over-time of Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final.

The game started with a bang as Dustin Byfuglien quickly asserted himself as the 'rock star' of the team by laying a big hit to Jackets' forward Matt Calvert. Shortly after that, a scrum ensued with all players on the ice getting involved, including Byfuglien. As he made his way to the penalty box for his first fighting major of the pre-season, the MTS Centre roared in approval. The NHL was back, and this was their team. It was time to blow the lid off of their new home.

It goes without saying that the home opener in Winnipeg this season will be in many NHL 'Top Ten' lists as one of the most memorable moments to witness this year. Throughout the season, Jets fans have had a lot to cheer about at home as the team has posted an impressive 8-4-0 record at home. 

However, it became quite apparent this past week during a game with the Boston Bruins, that Winnipeg was once again at the very top of the list of loudest arena's in the NHL.

In a 3rd period where Buston was pouring it on, the Jets conitnued to out-work and out hustle their more powerful opponents and to a knowledgeable city such as Winnipeg, that hard work gets rewarded with a noise that can only come from the MTS Centre.

At one point, Winnipeg's grinder line (which consists of Tanner Glass, Jim Slater and Chris Thorburn) was the focus of a chant from the crowd; who were treated to a shift that showcased hard work at it's finest. Digging in the corners, making big hits, causing turnovers and chipping pucks out during a big push by the Bruins are what generated a G.S.T. chant from 15,004 fans.

With 5 minutes left in the 3rd period, anyone who was able bodied was on their feet. There were no excuses. The Jets, still only up by a goal, had given these fans what they wanted; a hard fought 55 minutes. It was as if the next 5 minutes didn't matter to the fans, because they were busy making sure the fans in Boston could open their windows and hear the fact that the Bruins were down a goal and that defeat was inevitable.

When the clock finally struck 0.0, there was no other indication that the game was over other than the ominus roar that seemed to only get louder and louder.

Tanner Glass, who played in Game 7 of the Cup Finals last season with Vancouver, was quoted after the game as saying that he had never "heard an arena that loud before."

As Winnipeg finally reclaims their ownership of the title of Loudest Arena In The NHL, they've also made some changes to how they interact with visiting teams, and they're probably the first city in the NHL that has forever bolded two words with their voices during the national anthem.

True North Sports and Entertainment is the ownership group which purchased the Thrashers in the spring of 2011. Although that move itself would warrant a worship from fans of hockey in the city, it was the announcement that the team would be named the Jets that would win over the hockey faithful in Winnipeg.

In a movement that began online in message boards and on social media, it was decided that during Canada's National Anthem, Winnipeg would pay tribute to their new owners each and every night at the MTS Centre. For those unfamiliar with the anthem, there is a verse that goes;

"With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!"

Of course, it is the "True North" lyrics that the crowd of over 15,000 yells at the top of their lungs and that I'm sure makes the visiting team wonder what just happened, and if the game had started without their knowing.

With Winnipeg being 'sort of' new to the NHL, visiting teams are welcomed with open arms and the players are treated well in public. Fans, more often than not, will express their excitement at seeing Alex Ovechkin play for the first time, or seeing a player like Chris Pronger, who was on the Gold Medal Winning team for Canada, take the ice at the MTS Centre.

That is, before the puck drops.

Once the game has started, I think if the queen herself (who had an oversized portrait overlook every game at the Winnipeg Arena) was wearing an opponent's jersey, she would be booed relentlessly and cheered sarcasticly when she finally turned the puck over.

If you think that the jeering doesn't get to the players, there have been two distinct instances when the crowd influenced the score and/or flow of the game, by riding the back of a player that eventually turns the puck over.

Back in November, the Philadelphia Flyers were in town to take on the Jets in an afternoon game in downtown Winnipeg. It was during this game that the crowd made sure Chris Pronger knew that they didn't approve of him playing against their team.

At one point, during a Flyers power-play, Pronger was maintaining possession of the puck while trying to set up with the extra man on the point. As the boos rained down from high atop the MTS Centre, he fumbled the puck on the blue-line and the Winnipeg Jets scored short handed on the ensuing breakaway.

More recently versus the Bruins, Zdeno Chara was the focus of the vocal group of Jets' faithful and he too turned the puck over in his own zone. Even worse, it was only 10 feet in front of his goalie. Tanner Glass was left alone in front of Tuuka Rask, but fortunately for Chara, his goaltender was on top of his head all night and he stuffed Glass with ease.

The Winnipeg Jets are currently enjoying a home stretch which will see them in the MTS Centre for all but 2 games in December. It's a nice Christmas present for Jets fans in Winnipeg, as they couldn't be happier to not only have a team back; but have a team back that works as hard as they do. A team they can relate to, a work ethic they can appreciate, and although the results will come slowly, they know and understand that hard work eventually pays off.

 

 

 

16 Comments

Kyle Andrew Busch's picture

I'm guessing it's loud because it seats like 13,000 lol. Good read though Kory!

Kory's picture

Thanks Kyle! Big smile

Swervinmervin's picture

^^ @Kyle - The arena capacity is 15,005. Yes, it is the smallest NHL arena, but the average ticket price is among the very highest in the NHL, so the gate revenues are actually in the top 10 in the NHL - maybe the top 7 (Based on actual data). And it is sold out for the next 5 years, since that is the commitment that the 13,000 season ticket holders gave. The other seats are 1,000 box seats (also sold out for the next 5 years), 500 walk-ups (sell out quickly) and 500 tickets allocated by the team and the NHL (also fully used every game). And every seat is always full. The waiting list was CAPPED at 8,000 people (who might purchase as many as 4 tickets each). The waiting list had unofficially reached 16,000 before it was officially capped at the first 8,000 registrants (there is even a $100 cost to be on the waiting list). True North actually said that they capped the waiting list at 8,000 because that was as many people as might reasonably get season tickets during their lifetime. The Green Bay Packers fans have nothing on the Winnipeg Jets fans.

Kyle, it's loud because we fans in Winnipeg are CRAZY about this team. Literally.

As for the decibels - Tanner Glass, who played in the Stanley Cup Final last year, said that the crowd in the third period of the Jets' recent game against Boston was the loudest that he had EVER heard. Period.

Like the song by Winnipegers Bachman and Turner, of BTO, "You ain't seen nothin' yet!"

Kyle Andrew Busch's picture

There is no doubt that the fans are crazy, but in time they'll need a bigger rink. Even 15k isn't going to cut it. Imagine the revenue from say 19K. Prices would be a little lower most likely. I wasn't saying anything about their revenue, it wasn't really even in this article. Kory is saying it's a loud arena. I said probably because it's smaller. Less space probably means the sounds waves bounce around a bit. So I'm not saying anything about revenue, to be honest I don't care about it, even for my team (Detroit). And the Packers? Come on now. The NFL will trump NHL nay day of the week and I'm a die hard NHL fan. The Packers jam 70k into their stadium every game.

Kory's picture

The architectural characteristics of the MTS Centre obviously cater to a noise level that couldn't be matched by other, more spread out rinks. That being said, I think it's the knowledgeable crowd and 'what' hey cheer that makes Winnipeg so unique. I've watched hockey for quite a while, and I can't remember a time where the opposing team was in the home teams zone, and the crowd chanted the initials of the current lineup which was literally grinding the visiting team down just enough to cause turnovers and force the visitors outside the zone without generating any scoring chances.

I think what Swervinmervin was eluding to when he compared the Packers and the Jets was the Packers are known in the sports world for having one of the longest waiting lists for season tickets. I think the demand could be relatively compared to Winnipeg on a per capita basis. You have to remember, the Packers are the team of over 5 Million people in the small state of Wisconsin. The Jets pull in approximately 1.34% of their 1.1 Million population for every home game. Green Bay attracts 1.31% for every game of theirs, with a 72,000 seat stadium. Those are interesting numbers, and you can see why there are some good comparisons to both franchises.

However, if you compare actual revenue numbers, Green Bay wins that battle. And that's not a shot against Winnipeg.

Ren Dyal's picture

kyle, its loud in mts centre just because the fans are freakin loud and dont sit on their hands like in other rinks....its not because of the size of the rink. dont try to be-little the fact that winnipeg fans are the loudest. and as for the revenue, it wont be more if it were 19,000, the tickets would just be cheaper....just wait for the final year numbers and you will see where mts sits in terms of revenue.

Kyle Andrew Busch's picture

Well in my books the only thing that matters is points, not revenue. That's for the owners to worry about. So the fans are loud, I mean that's great, but the only thing that matters is the product on the ice, wouldn't you agree? If the Jets were actually a good team, the crowd would be awesome. I think for me, the fact that they are cheering a team that is basically still the Thrashers makes it seem like they are cheering BECAUSE they have a team. I don't doubt Winnipeg will be successful at some point, and I'm happy for the fans. Don't think I'm a Jets hater lol

Ren Dyal's picture

i agree that the product on the ice is what matters....but i dont know how you can think that the product on the ice right now isnt good.....its pretty good....not great...yet. jets have knocked off the bruins,flyers twice,pens,lightning and caps.....if thats not good, i dont know what is

Kyle Andrew Busch's picture

You just proved my point, you said the Jets are pretty good. Don't get mad, but everyone but Jets fans know that they are still basically the Thrashers, and the Thrashers were terrible. Winnipeg has added a spark in the players, but like you said, they aren't great. Beating some good teams doesn't make you good, you're position in the standings do. I hope the Jets do become a great team because I want to see the Wings have some more competition other than Chicago in the Central.

Ren Dyal's picture

how exactly did i prove your point...i said they were good....you say they are terrible,which they are not....im not blind to the fact that they arent a great team, but terrible? not a chance

George Prax's picture

Wow, Kory rallied the Jets fans against Kyle I see, lol.

In all seriousness, I don't see how you can claim as a fact that Winnipeg has the loudest arena, unless you've been to all 30 arenas during their most important games or have some sort of scientific method of proving it. no one's going to deny that Jets fans aren't among the loudest in the NHL, and they're obviously getting a push from their new situation, but there are plenty of arenas out there that are very loud. You talk about Chara and the Bruins, well in Montreal, we boo Chara for 60 minutes straight, and we still have energy left over for some Thomas chants and boos towards Marchand and Lucic, among others. Boston can be as equally rowdy, same for Philly, just to name a few. There are passionate fans in many cities.

As for the quality of the product the Jets are putting on the ice, Kyle is right on one thing. The Jets ARE the Thrashers, and the Thrashers weren't very good. The Jets are making up a lot of that based on the surge they're getting from the fans, but in the end the make-up of the team is still the same, and the team might be better served working on a mini-rebuild. I think they're not as good as their record indicates, but they're not a cellar dweller either.

Kyle Andrew Busch's picture

They're a below average team, aka the Thrashers. Just because they changed their city and name doesn't mean the talent magically got better, right? lol

Ren Dyal's picture

nobody here claimed that there isnt passionate fans in many cities....lots of people just cant get over the fact that winnipeg is one the loudest crowds in the league easily.....and now we got a habs fan calling the jets not very good....haha, that is quite amusing.

George Prax's picture

The fact that you're getting defensive by insulting other teams isn't helping your point. i'm aware that the Habs are terrible this year, that's irrelevant. That said they're only a point behind those awesome Jets, so what does that say about them? No one's trying to insult you here buddy, or the Jets, but let's not make Jets fans the most hated fans in the league in their first season back. The Jets are back and we're all happy for you guys, but a dozen games is hardly enough of a baseline to prove that Jets fans are the loudest in the league AS A FACT and EASILY... relax.

Kyle Andrew Busch's picture

You can't chirp my team because yours sucks too. Basically then, take Prax's comment and pretend I said it. Wings fan here btw.

Kory's picture

I maybe should have put a "?" at the end of the title. It's definitely not a fact, and the only way to prove which arenas is loudest would be to have a decibel meter at every arena during their most important games.

Thinking back, I think the point of the article was to bring more light to a topic that has given Winnipeg some much needed press. A lot of players on the Boston roster were quoted as saying that the MTS Centre was simply volatile. Other teams who have visited have mentioned the noise levels without the topic even being brought up. (See: Pronger vs Jets Fans). I listen to a lot of radio that comes out of Toronto, (HNIC Radio, Sportsnet..etc) and the Manitoba capital was getting the shaft when it came to media coverage up until the Jets roared their way to a tough win over Boston.

It's good press for the Jets, who (after the Season Opener) haven't done much to catch the attention of the big city press junkies. As a Jets fan from the previous years, this is nothing new.

This weekend, Sportsnet had a segment on their Saturday A.M. broadcast in which they teased before the commercial break that they would preview the Canadian teams in action that night. You could imagine my shock and frustration that during the entire final segment of the show, Winnipeg was not mentioned once as being in the Motor City to take on the Wings. An oversight? On purpose?

Either way, it shows that Winnipeg has a long way to go before being accepted back into mainstream media. The big win against Boston helped, and a win over Carolina the following Friday was a well played game as well. It's too bad they were trounced by Detroit, which was obviously no surprise.

I bet if you measured noise levels during playoff games in Montreal vs Winnipeg ; Montreal wins that battle.

However, the MTS Centre has to be a much scarier environment. During a documentary on the Jets earlier this season, they were doing an interview with someone at center ice. He said he's talked to players who've played there that say it's awful intimidating when you look up at the upper bowl, and you can see the eyeballs of the fans who , in any other rink, are usually a distant figure.

The impact of that , as an opposing player, is probably more than we know.