Itinerant Fan

Bell MTS Place

Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg is one of the smallest arenas in the NHL capacity-wise, but fans of the hometown Jets probably don’t care.

It’s been a few years since the league returned after nearly 20 years away with the relocation of the former Atlanta Thrashers, but it’s hard to tell if the love affair has worn off. Tickets to a Jets home game remain one of the toughest to get in hockey.

When the team finally returned to the playoffs in 2015, the familiar “White-Out” that greeted the team in past playoff runs came back with it. And when Winnipeg advanced all the way to the Western Conference finals in 2018, the fervor that accompanied home games at Bell MTS Place provided a glimpse of what things could be like if the team finally captures the Stanley Cup.

Whether the team makes the playoffs or not, the team’s barn in the heart of downtown has an atmosphere any NHL fan should check out. If anything, the curiosity of checking out a city that is largely unknown if not for sports for people outside Canada would make it a journey worth experiencing.

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  •   The Approach

    While Winnipeg itself isn’t an easy place to get to, considering its somewhat isolated spot in the Canadian Prairies, Bell MTS Place is located downtown along its most well-known street, Portage Avenue. It’s also just a few blocks away from the city’s most well-known intersection, Portage and Main.

    The arena itself doesn’t have as prominent a profile as you’d expect, and it it weren’t for the Jets paraphernalia decorating it, it’s actually pretty easy to not notice it or think it’s just another downtown building.

    If you’re a visitor to “the Peg,” you’re very likely staying downtown and thus you’ll probably find it easiest to walk to the arena. The exception to this would be is if it’s the dead of winter, which is notoriously harsh on Winnipeg, in which case you’ll want to try and take advantage of the city’s network of underground and above-ground walkways as much as possible to access the arena. The arena itself is connected on three sides to buildings across Hargrave, Graham and Donald streets.

    Drivers can find many lots and structures downtown, including several within close proximity to Bell MTS Place and a few attached to the underground walkway system. You can find parking suggestions here.

    During our visit in January, it was cold out but not bitterly so, and our hotel was two blocks away, so we decided to walk outside. It wasn’t too bad, but know that as puck drop gets closer, the entrance atriums — including the “main” one at the corner of Portage and Donald — get crowded and you might get caught waiting outside for a bit as the lines to get in get longer.

  •   The Build-Up

    Given its prime location downtown, there are many options for pregame eating and drinking. One is attached to the arena — Moxie’s Grill and Bar, a Canadian chain. You can also find a list of downtown restaurants and pubs here, many of which are good for watching the game if you don’t have tickets for it.

    If you’re not Canadian, don’t be shy about trying one of the chains nearby, as the experience will likely be new to you. Some of the chains within a few blocks of Bell MTS Place include Boston Pizza and The Keg.

    Another option, weather permitting, is the market at The Forks, considered Winnipeg’s central meeting place and a straight shot down Portage Avenue from the arena.

  •   The Ambiance

    With a brick exterior and circular atrium at its main entrance point at Portage and Donald, Bell MTS Place appears to blend in well with the buildings surrounding it. If you enter at this point, you’ll pass the turnstiles and then climb up a set of stairs to reach the main concourse level, where the Jets team store, a bar and more await. The mood lighting, in Jets blue, covers much of this area and provides an interesting touch to the atmosphere.

    Once inside, it’s cozy but not tight, not surprising given the size of the arena, and the seating bowl is pretty standard-issue for a hockey venue. Thanks to its relatively small size, even the uppermost seats don’t feel too far removed from the ice. Our seats were about 10 rows up in the upper deck, behind one of the nets, and we could see the entire rink without issue.

    The Jets added a new high-definition video board above center ice for the 2015-16 season, as part of a rolling set of renovations planned for coming seasons. New railings and glass panes added to the aisles in the upper deck caused fans to complain about obstructed views, which the team has promised to address.

    Concessions options at Bell MTS Place include the presence of several chains, including Tim Hortons and Pizza Pizza — a hot chocolate and a box of Timbits seemed like popular options among the fans on the night we visited. However, one item worth trying is the Jumbo Jet Dog, an eight-inch wiener that comes with a selection of toppings such as bacon bits, chili and even pierogies.

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The Particulars

Home Teams
Winnipeg Jets

Address
300 Portage Ave.
Winnipeg, MB R3C 5S4

Year Opened
2004

Capacity
15,004

Upcoming Events
All times local
Grand Rapids Griffins at Manitoba Moose
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
2:00 pm
Get tickets at SeatGeek »

Baby Shark Live! - Winnipeg
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
4:00 pm
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JoJo Siwa - Winnipeg
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
7:00 pm
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James Taylor with Bonnie Raitt
Tuesday, April 21, 2020
7:30 pm
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Miranda Lambert with Cody Johnson
Saturday, May 2, 2020
7:00 pm
Get tickets at SeatGeek »


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