Winnipeg reaches season ticket goal in 17 minutes

That was quick. In impressive fashion, the hockey fans of Winnipeg purchased 13,000 season tickets in three days of pre-sale and 17 minutes into Saturday's general public sale.

Ticket-package holders of the American Hockey League's Manitoba Moose and corporate advertising clients bought 7,158 season tickets in the pre-sale that ended 11 p.m. ET Friday night. The remaining 5,842 were purchased online in 17 minutes, announced by the True North Sports and Entertainment group. True North has entered into an agreement to purchase and relocate the Atlanta Thrashers, pending NHL Board of Governors approval at its Board meeting June 21 in New York.

"We would like to take a special moment to thank all of our fans in Winnipeg, Manitoba, 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," said Jim Ludlow, President & CEO, True North Sports & Entertainment. "The success of the campaign is a key ingredient to ensuring the sustainability and long-term viability of NHL hockey in this province. We look forward to seeing everyone this fall at MTS Centre for opening night of regular season NHL hockey in Winnipeg."

The swift fan support will no doubt be a happy topic of discussion when prospective owners David Thomson and Mark Chipman, True North chairman, interview with the League's Executive Committee in New York this coming Tuesday.

There was no questioning the passion for hockey in Winnipeg, but Saturday's success is a deep, practical response from fans anticipating NHL games in MTS Centre. The 13,000 season tickets were bought for a minimum of three years and up to five years.

"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," said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in a statement before Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final in Vancouver.