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A whiteout is predicted to hit Winnipeg’s downtown at about 5 p.m. Thankfully, the forecast is about Winnipeg Jets playoff hockey, not snow.
Whether you’re lucky enough to have a ticket to the game, or to the Winnipeg Whiteout Street Party outside, there are still several things you’ll need to know for the coming days — and, hopefully, weeks — as the Jets start their drive to the Stanley Cup.
• It was a bit chilly this morning — what will it be like when the puck drops at Bell MTS Place shortly after 7 tonight?
Still chilly. Environment Canada is predicting the temperature will be about 4 C when the street party begins and by the time the game ends it will have dropped to about -2. Crisp, but at least it’ll be dry. There’s no precipitation in the forecast.
• What’s with the barriers going up on downtown streets?
Well, there are some closures to make way for the street party and already several streets have been temporarily walled off to make way for the thousands of people expected to cheer on the Jets on massive video screens.
Donald Street between Portage and St. Mary avenues and Graham Avenue between Carlton and Garry streets are closed to vehicles until 6:30 a.m. Thursday.
Through traffic will not be allowed on Smith Street, between St. Mary and Portage avenues, but vehicles will be allowed to get to the Millennium Library parkade entrance, as well as being able to access the Radisson Hotel parkade from the back lane south of Portage Avenue.
It will happen again Friday starting at 11:30 a.m., until Saturday at 6:30 a.m.
• What if I want to get a good book to read between playoff games?
If your plans are to borrow one from the Millennium Library, you’ll have to act quickly. The library will be closing early today at 4:30 p.m., and the only access to the building today will be through the skywalk or parkade.
• Graham Avenue is the main Winnipeg Transit terminal; what’s happening to bus routes?
Winnipeg Transit has announced it has already rerouted buses off Graham, from Carlton Street to Garry Street until 2 a.m.
Because of the change, eastbound bus tops on Graham between Hargrave and Smith streets, will be relocated temporarily to eastbound York Avenue at Donald Street and northbound Smith at Graham. Westbound bus stops on Graham between Smith and Edmonton streets will temporarily move to westbound St. Mary Avenue at Donald and northbound Edmonton between St. Mary and Graham.
The same transit changes will take place for Friday’s Game 2, with buses being rerouted from Graham starting at 11:30 a.m., until 2 a.m.
• Where are tickets to the party available?
Game tickets automatically provide access to the party before and after. And for fans who will watch on the big screens, tickets are available for $5 at Ticketmaster, and purchases are limited to four. People without online access to Ticketmaster can purchase them at the Bell MTS Place box office.
All proceeds from party ticket sales will go to the United Way to distribute to local agencies under three key themes: addiction, homelessness and mental health.
As well, the United Way received 500 tickets for free distribution in the community.
• How many fans will be celebrating tonight? And Friday?
True North’s Rob Wozny says about 7,400 fans have already plunked down $5 for tonight’s party. Wozny said that compares to 6,000 fans on hand for last year’s Game 1.
Wozny said another 11,000 have already bought tickets for Friday’s event, compared to the 9,000 who showed up last year.
• Look up
Four Royal Canadian Air Force CT-155 Hawk training jets from 2 Canadian Forces Flying Training School at 15 Wing Moose Jaw, Sask., will be doing a flyover at 7 p.m., shortly before the puck drops inside Bell MTS Place. The jets may seem pretty close to the ground, but they are restricted to flying no lower than 500 feet above the highest obstacle on their route.
• Is it too late to get a ticket to watch the game live?
Wozny says there are still tickets available at winnipegjets.com/tickets. As well, he encourages fans to continue checking that website because there could be seats released for sale just prior to game time.
• Any advice from police?
The Winnipeg Police Service said in a statement that it wants “to ensure a safe environment for everyone looking to enjoy the celebrations.”
To accomplish that, there will be additional officers out on the street.
As well, police are reminding people attending the party that security will be restricting large bags and backpacks and that any open liquor is allowed only in the designated licensed area. (True North has said backpacks, purses and bags larger than 14 inches by 14 inches by six won’t be allowed, but there is a bag check available for $3).
And while cannabis is now legal in Canada, police are reminding people they can’t smoke or use it in vehicles or in public, including sidewalks, parks, school grounds and restaurant patios.
“With some advanced planning we can all enjoy a fun, safe and memorable playoff run. Go Jets Go!”
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.