The “Winnipeg Whiteout” began in 1987 when the Winnipeg Jets were playing the Calgary Flames in the National Hockey League (NHL) Stanley Cup Playoffs. In an effort to create an intimidating home atmosphere, both teams introduced color-themed initiatives; the Flames had their “C of Red”, with fans wearing red, while the Jets responded with the “Winnipeg Whiteout”, the brainchild of Rod Palson of Palmer Jarvis Advertising.
The franchise relocated to Arizona in 1996, and the Whiteout was on hiatus until the Atlanta Threshers relocated to Winnipeg in 2011 as the latest incarnation of the Jets franchise.
The “Winnipeg Whiteout” initiative was revived for the 2015 and 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Jets, who are currently playing the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference Final, have even taken the Whiteout to the streets of Winnipeg via a variety of watch parties and festivities during this latest playoff run.
However, Whiteouts are not only about showing support for the Winnipeg hockey team. Jets fans who have attended True North Sports + Entertainment events have donated more than 31,000 pounds of food to Winnipeg Harvest, a nonprofit organization that helps those who are struggling in the Manitoba province.
“We are so grateful and humbled by the kindness of Manitobans who have all rallied together to help families in need in our province to receive a nutritionally balanced hamper of food,” said Keren Taylor-Hughes, Executive Director of Winnipeg Harvest.
The organization serves approximately 64,000 individuals each month. In 2017, Winnipeg Harvest distributed 13.2 million pounds of food throughout the province. Fans are encouraged to donate canned goods such as soup, fruits, vegetables, beans, and fish as well as pasta, rice, and peanut butter.
Bell MTS Place, the Jets’ home arena, is the smallest in the NHL with a capacity of just over 15,300. However, the street parties outside the arena average 20,000 fans, despite temperatures hovering around 0°F (-17.8°C). The downtown party area includes a four-block plaza, two and a half city blocks, and an adjacent park full of concession stands and giant TVs. Centerplate, the company in charge of MTS Place’s concessions, has food trucks and more than 30 tents spread throughout, offering Whiteout-themed fare ranging from blizzard pizza to Whiteout poutine to a Winnipeg Whiteout cocktail.
“The Whiteout is a fun, creative way to capture the spirit of Winnipeg and provide an extraordinary fan experience for those outside the arena,” said Craig Vidal, Centerplate District Manager at Bell MTS Place. “Plus, the fact that we’ve donated a high amount of resources to the Winnipeg Harvest is such a nice byproduct.”