Canadian hockey fans mourned in 1996 when their beloved Winnipeg Jets left for Phoenix. Canadians take their hockey seriously, and only a special individual could bring their favorite sport to its former glory. It all came down to the talent and business expertise of Mark Chipman, a lawyer, entrepreneur and sports enthusiast who was responsible for the new Winnipeg Jets coming back on the scene to glory. Mark Chipman, the chairman of True North Sports, is responsible for building Canada’s gigantic MTS Centre, a huge venue that hosts entertainment performances as well as sporting events.
By working with Manitoba officials and an investor, David Thomson he constructed the 15,000-seat MTS Centre for $133.5 million in 2004. His next venture was finding a team. It took a while for Mr. Chipman to study the National Hockey League and seven years later he found a perfect opportunity. He rescued the Atlanta Thrashers and turned them into the new Winnipeg Jets, which delighted Canadian sports fans, according to the New York Times. The new Jets, now purchased by Chipman’s company, True North, made a triumphant return after 15 years.
Only an incredible person could have made this happen, and here are some other interesting facts about Mark Chipman.
1. His Alma Mater is the University of North Dakota
Although born in Canada, Mark Chipman earned an undergraduate degree from UND in 1983. He went on to complete law school at the same institution, graduating in 1985. Mr. Chimpan is quoted saying that he “grew up” at UND. He calls going to UND “The best decision of my life.” In 2012, he was honored with the prestigious Sioux Award, which is the highest honor given by the alumni association to a graduate who has distinguished him or herself through outstanding achievement.
2. Mark Chipman Played Football in College
Urged by his father to try out for the football team, Mark Chipman had a great time playing for UND. Calling himself an “average” player, he enjoyed the experience nonetheless. He actually played football so well that he earned an athletic scholarship. He said he never dreamed that 25 years later he would be running an NHL team.
3. He Married His College Sweetheart
The UND campus is dear to Mr. Chapman for many reasons, most notably because this is where he met his future wife Patti. They have stayed happily together since that time. They have three daughters. He also has two brothers, both in business, and a sister who works in broadcasting.
4. For All His Success, He’s Very Modest
Unlike some sports power figures who bask in the limelight, Mark Chipman would rather focus the spotlight on his team, not himself. Described in an interview as “buttoned down” and doesn’t court the press. He’s described as humble and modest by his colleagues. He is the first one to give credit to the team for the franchise’s amazing performance.
5. He Practiced Law in Florida
After graduation, the newly licensed lawyer Mark Chipman went to work in the Sunshine State. His first position was as a prosecuting attorney and then opened a private practice. His combination of people skills and high intellect suited him well as Assistant District Attorney. To many, the hats worn by this multi-talented millionaire have piqued the curiosity of many journalists, as evidenced in an article asking “Mark Chipman: who exactly is this man?”
6. His Triumphant Return to Canada
He returned to Manitoba in 1988, landing a job with the Birchwood Automotive Group, one of his family’s business holdings. By 1992 he was the firms’ President. It seems that Mr. Chipman was destined to succeed in many occupations.
7. Mark Chipman is called a “White Knight”
Although he does not make many personal appearances, he is known as the “White Knight” of Canadian Hockey. Grateful fans feel loyalty to him and even those who are not fans of his team admire his business acumen. The honorable initials “OM” appear after his name, as he was awarded the Order of Manitoba for his community contributions, He has enriched Manitoba not only economically, but socially and culturally. Bringing back the Winnipeg Jets and building the MTS arena, has brought not only team spirit but much-needed funds to the province.
8. He Was Cut from a Team
Mark Chipman’s time playing with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers was short lived. He played in an exhibition game in 1983 but was cut by Coach Cal Murphy. Instead of trying to split his time between two sports, Mark decided to concentrate on his studies and football.
9. The Winnipeg Jets Almost Didn’t Happen
It took working with the mayor of Winnipeg, steely determination, and lots of patience to bring back the Winnipeg Jets. It also took his personal touch dealing with people, perfect timing, and putting together a million dollar stadium to make it happen. Along the way, Mr. Chipman never lost faith in the team he loved. It was his quiet tenacity and his talent for strategic planning that brought hockey back to Manitoba.
10. He’s a Multi-Millionaire Philanthropist
Mark Chipman has a net worth of approximately $500 million. He gives back to the hockey community by serving as the Winnipeg Jets’s Team’s Governor and is on the National Hockey League Board of Governors. He is also on the board of the True North Foundation which is involved in many projects, including The Winnipeg Jets Hockey Academy, a program geared to increase high school graduation rates and encourage school attendance. The foundation also sponsors a special program, Project 11, named for player Rick Rypien. Many Canadian hockey fans were shocked and saddened at Rick Rypien’s untimely death at age 27. Project 11 focuses on mental heath education and life enrichment activities for school children.