Manitoba Public Insurance has sold 458 Brandon Wheat Kings specialty licence plates as of June 1 — a far cry from the 2,000 that must be moved.
According to MPI, an organization with a speciality plate is expected to sell its stock or else it may be required to cover extra costs.
The Wheaties plates are the only Brandon-centric specialty plates offered in Manitoba.
There are 10 others representing for-profit and not-for-profit organizations either in Winnipeg or elsewhere in the province.
The plates were officially unveiled in February by Andrew Swan, Manitoba’s minister responsible for MPI, after the hockey club put forward a business plan to the province in 2013.
The business plan includes a time frame in which the organization expects to sell off the 2,000 plates, but MPI said it could not disclose the agreement details between the sports team and the Crown corporation.
In an emailed statement, Swan’s press secretary, Rachel Morgan, said the province would prefer to work with organizations to help sell the plates rather than forcing them to recoup any lost profit from unsold inventory.
"Some of the plates are selling extremely well and we are optimistic the others will also prove to be popular with their supporters," Morgan’s email read.
"Rather than forcing groups that have had slow sales to cover production costs for unsold plates, the province would prefer to work with them to help sell their plates.
"The agreements between the organizations and MPI are structured in such a way that ratepayers are not subsidizing specialty licence plates."
Any organization that wishes to have specialty plates may apply to MPI and will be accepted if the criteria is met, which includes a viable business report with target customers.
"Specialty licence plates allow supporters of an organization or sports team to show their support in a fun and visible way," Morgan wrote. "A portion of the funds collected from the sale of the plates supports the organization and in many cases the charitable work they do."
Wheat Kings owner, general manager and head coach Kelly McCrimmon said he has no concerns about selling the full stack of plates, but couldn’t provide the timeframe stipulated in the business plan before press time.
"I don’t anticipate it being any issue in terms of our plate," he said earlier in the day Wednesday.
A portion of the $70 fee for the plates goes to the Brandon Humane Society, but those proceeds won’t be cashed out until after the full stock is sold, as part of MPI’s break-even model.
The rest of the money stays with MPI to press the plates.
Humane Society manager Tracy Munn didn’t think everyone would go out and buy 2,000 plates when they were released earlier in the year, but has no concern about drivers eventually scooping up the remaining plates.
"We’re seeing more and more plates," she said. "It’s the only local licence plate we have. That’s huge. There are Wheat Kings fans in a lot of small towns ... I have no doubt they’ll sell them all."
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