Who is this man who pulled off the impossible and brought back an NHL team to Winnipeg? Below is a brief profile of this mover and shaker that has Winnipeg and Manitoba in very high spirits. He had dreams that have come to fruition and brought Winnipeg back into the major leagues in the North American sports scene once again.
Mark Chipman was born and raised in Winnipeg and
received an Honors BA in Economics as well as a Juris Doctorate in Law from the
University of North Dakota. Upon graduation, Mr. Chipman received his call to
the Florida Bar where he began his practice as an Assistant District Attorney
and later entered a private practice. Mark returned to Winnipeg in 1988 to work for
the Birchwood Automotive Group and assumed the position of President in 1992.
In September of 2001, Mark was named President of Birchwood’s parent the Megill
Mr. Chipman is the Governor of the Manitoba Moose Hockey Club and is a former
Chairman of the Executive Committee of AHL Board of Governors. He is also the
founder and Chairman of True North Holdings Ltd. who recently completed
construction of the MTS Centre in downtown Winnipeg.
Mark has been a member of the board of several community non-profit and
charitable concerns and is currently a member of the United Way of Winnipeg Campaign
He is particularly aware of the importance of minor hockey development having
participated throughout much of his life in the Winnipeg Minor Hockey
Association as both a player and a coach.
The major player has been a company called True North Sports and
Entertainment. The company was created in 2001 by Winnipeg
businessman Mark Chipman and other partners with the aim of building a new
sports and entertainment venue in downtown Winnipeg that could revive the depressed commercial district and possibly attract an NHL team to the city.
The new 15,000-seat complex, named the MTS Centre, opened in 2004 and
became the home of the Manitoba Moose, the AHL team Chipman had brought to Winnipeg after the Jets left in 1996. With that team, which had some of the strongest attendance numbers in the league, True North showed hockey could once again be a successful business venture inWinnipeg.
Billionaire and heir to the Thomson media fortune David Thomson got
involved in True North through his family’s real estate arm, Osmington Inc.,
which owned the land the MTS Centre was built on. Eventually, Thomson and
Chipman bought out the other partners and became the sole owners of True North.
Mark Chipman: founder of True North Sports and Entertainment, the company
that will own the new team and already owns its future home arena, the MTS
Centre, which was built in 2004 to replace the Winnipeg Arena, where the Jets
used to play and which was demolished in 2006. Chipman is president and chief executive of Megill-Stephenson Co. Ltd., a holding company started by his
father, Robert Chipman, that owns several car dealerships.
The company also has stakes in the MTS Centre and the Manitoba Moose, the
farm team for the Vancouver Canucks. The Moose were formerly part of the
International Hockey League before Chipman brought the team to Manitoba
from Minnesota following the Jets’ departure in 1996. He successfully negotiated for the Moose and five other IHL teams to be accepted into the American Hockey League. The Moose have proven to be a big draw for the MTS Centre and have ranked near the top of the league for season and playoff attendance.
Chipman is director of the Hockey Canada Foundation and sits on the boards
of various community organizations. He is married with three daughters and has two brothers, Stephen and Jeoffrey, who are also active in Winnipeg’s
business community and the family holdings. He earned a BA in economics and a law degree from the University of North Dakota. Prior to his return to Winnipeg, he worked as a lawyer in theU.S.
In the picture below is from left to right: Mark Chipman, NHL Chairman Gary Bettman, True North executive Jim Ludlow middle second row, Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger and True North partner and multi-billionaire David Thomson.
Thomson Reuters chairman and True North co-owner
David Thomson. (Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press)David Thomson: Chairman of
Thomson Reuters, the media conglomerate founded by his grandfather, Roy, in
1934 and later run by his father, Kenneth. With an estimated net worth of $23
billion, Thomson was ranked first on Forbes magazine’s 2011 list of Canadian
billionaires and 17th in the world. Co-chairs the family’s investment concern, Woodbridge, with brother Peter.
Together with Chipman, owns True North Sports and Entertainment. Divorced with
three children. Based in Toronto, Thomson has been more of a silent financial partner rather than being
directly involved in negotiations over the NHL deal.
One day as Chipman, Thomson and former Winnipeg mayor Glen Murray sat in a coffee shop they decided to start developing plans. The Moose weren’t enough and they wanted to do much more. They started talking about big plans, like building a fancy arena in the city’s downtown and maybe, just maybe, winning back the NHL one day. “We just thought, ‘What could we do?’” recalled Mr. Murray, who served six years as Winnipeg’s mayor and is now a provincial cabinet minister in Ontario.
“So we started drawing up plans on some of the napkins.”
It took 14 years, but on Tuesday Mr. Chipman finally saw those sketched-out
plans bear fruit with the official announcement that the NHL’s Atlanta
Thrashers will be sold to True North Sports and Entertainment, a company he
founded, and moved toWinnipeg.
“I expected our city would one day again take membership in the NHL,”
Mr. Chipman told a news conference in his usual understated manner.