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True North reaches goal for selling 13,000 season tickets for Winnipeg NHL team

True North Sports and Entertainment says it has reached its goal of selling 13,000 season tickets for Winnipeg's new NHL team.

The company opened up online sales to the general public on Saturday and hit its target in less than an hour.

For the last three days, only the 2,000 or so fans who had season tickets to the American Hockey League's Manitoba Moose could buy NHL seats.

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As of Friday afternoon, those Moose fans had scooped up more than 7,100 season tickets.

"We would like to take a special moment to thank all of our fans in Winnipeg and Canada for their support over the past week, in particular, the overwhelming response of our fans which has resulted in a successful 'Drive to 13,000' campaign," True North's president and CEO, Jim Ludlow, said in a statement.

Mr. Ludlow said the season tickets campaign was a key ingredient to ensuring the viability to NHL hockey in Manitoba.

The as-yet unnamed team was bought by True North from owners in Atlanta earlier this week.

The company had hoped to sell 13,000 season seats ahead of the NHL's vote on the approval of the sale later this month.

The speed of the sellout took many by surprise, including NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

"While I had no doubt the 'Drive to 13,000' would reach its destination, the remarkable speed at which it got there certifies the fans' hunger for NHL hockey and their commitment to True North's initiatives," Mr. Bettman said in a statement.

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There was no lining up for tickets. All purchases had to be made online.

With all 13,000 season tickets sold, there will be just over 2,000 tickets remaining for each game at the MTS Centre. It is the NHL's smallest arena, holding just over 15,000 people.

But unlike the old Winnipeg Arena, where the Winnipeg Jets used to play before they for left Phoenix in 1996, MTS Centre has corporate suites, ranging in price from $105,000 to $197,000 a season.

True North added it will be starting an official membership-only-based waiting list for tickets, which will require a fee.

"We look forward to seeing everyone this fall at MTS Centre for opening night of regular season NHL hockey in Winnipeg," Mr. Ludlow said in the release.

Mr. Ludlow isn't providing any hints about what the new team will be called nor exactly when the name will be announced, but he said it won't be long.

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Many fans would like to see the return of the Jets name.

Other names bandied about include the Manitoba Falcons, which would assuage those who live outside Winnipeg and feel the name should reflect the entire province while paying homage to Canada's first Olympic gold-winning hockey team, the 1920 Winnipeg Falcons.

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