The 1974 “Save the Jets” Campaign
At the end of the 1973-1974 season, with losses mounting, Ben Hatskin and the Simkin family decided to put the Jets up for sale. With no local buyers coming forward, a group of community leaders led by Jack McKeag, Bob Graham, and others put forward the idea of a community owned team.
Not wanting to see the Jets leave Winnipeg, Hatskin agreed to sell the club to the community ownership group at a discounted price of $2.3 million. The community ownership group then had to come up with a $600,000 down payment and an additional $300,000 in operating capital with the rest payable over the next eight years at a rate of 9% interest.
The City of Winnipeg agreed to loan $300,000 to the group, but the rest of the money had to come from the general public.
As a result, the “Save the Jets” campaign got underway on 10 June 1974 in room 512 of the Malborough Hotel. The general public was asked to buy membership shares for $25 and large businesses were approached to make interest-free Founders Loans.
Throughout the rest of the month, money flowed in and the goal was reached with a frantic last-minute push that gave the community ownership the necessary funds to proceed with the purchase of the team.
The papers were officially signed on Friday, 28 June and the team officially belonged to the people.
Without the generous donations and loans made by Manitoba businesses and individuals, the Jets would never have made it beyond the 1973-1974 season. We would never have experienced the three AVCO Cup championships, the thrills of watching the Hot Line in action, not to mention the 17 seasons of NHL hockey that followed after the NHL absorbed four WHA teams, including the Jets.
Following is a complete list of all the contributors that kept the Jets in Winnipeg and provided us with so many memories that have not been forgotten to this day: