Winnipeg Jets Tickets: Liquor Corporation Gets Them For Nothing, But Who's Getting Them?

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WINNIPEG - Someone is getting much-coveted free tickets to sold-out NHL games in Winnipeg, courtesy of Manitoba's liquor agency, but it's not exactly clear who.

The province's official opposition has been pressing the NDP government for a list of those who have been handed the tickets, and whether politics played a part.

"Did political staff, board members or MLAs use any of them?," Ron Schuler, the Progressive Conservative liquor corporation critic, asked Monday during question period.

"This isn't an overwhelming request. Where's the list?"

Schuler first asked for the list at a March 21 committee hearing, when the acting president of the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission revealed that the agency spends $250,000 a year to advertise at Jets games, including signs, posters and pamphlets. As part of the deal, the commission receives 10 season tickets.

Commission president Roman Zubach told the committee the tickets are used for promotional purposes, "in other words, for our customers", and are tracked. But Schuler has been pressing the minister responsible for the liquor commission, Jim Rondeau, for a list of any politicians or political staff who may have received tickets as well.

Rondeau, who has said he has never received one of the tickets, told the legislature Monday the six-week-old request was still in the works.

"The staff is working very, very hard. They will get the list and will get it to you very shortly," he told Schuler.

Staff at the liquor corporation have been busy dealing with an impending merger with the province's lottery corporation, Rondeau said. He also cited the fact the Tories asked for many pieces of information at the committee hearing, not just a list of ticket recipients.

Jets tickets are a hot commodity in hockey-hungry Manitoba, which lost the original Jets franchise to Phoenix in 1996.

The new Jets, a relocated Atlanta Thrashers, came to the city at the start of the 2011-12 season and sold out every home game. Single-game tickets sold for as much as $200 through official channels, and for more on the black market.