It seems really silly that one of the most important markets in Canada is sans NHL franchise yes? Quebec City or (Ville de Quebec), the capital of the province of Quebec is home to about half a million people, and about 700,000 if you count the suburbs.
Yet since 1995, when the Quebec Nordiques left to become the Colorado Avalance, this hockey hub has lacked a team. That looks very likely to change in the next couple of years. A $400 million arena, funded entirely by the taxpayers, is scheduled to begin construction on New Years 2013, and reach completion in 2015.
Now obviously, there are numerous roadblocks that could still derail this project. First and foremost is the fact that French Canadien citizens don’t take as kindly to the blatant fleecing of public funding for private enterprises as us Americans. Here in the states, we’ve become used to (although still very disgusted by) the usage of our hard-earned tax dollars ending up as exercises in corporate socialism for the billionaires who build stadiums.
Secondly, the NHL has no plans to expand, nor should they given how many franchises are falling, not flying, financially these days. Quebec’s best bet is to lure away one of the struggling sun belt franchises where hockey is not as much a way of life as it is on the St. Lawrence River.
Thirdly, the new 18,000 seat arena project will serve as the backbone for a civic bid to host the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. And the idea of hosting an Olympics is about as polarizing an initiative as possible. So we’ll see where that takes us.
Here’s more from the New York Times:
Quebec City has its eye on financially ailing clubs like the Atlanta Thrashers, the Florida Panthers or even the Islanders, whose lease at Nassau Coliseum expires in 2015. But the N.H.L.’s policy for more than a decade has been to oppose franchise moves, and there are no plans to add expansion franchises.
“We don’t want people building a building on our account, expecting that there’s going to be a franchise, because we’re not in the position to promise one right now,” Commissioner Gary Bettman said last month when asked about Quebec.
Quebec fans are fervently committed to reviving the Nordiques. Last October, 50,000 turned out for the Blue March, a rally to mobilize support for the cause. In December, about 1,100 Quebec fans piled into 22 buses and rode 550 miles to attend an Islanders-Thrashers game, basically taking over a near-empty Nassau Coliseum to demonstrate their desire for a team.
“In general, the decision to build a stadium, whether it’s in the absence of a commitment from a major league or not, is an emotional one,” said James F. Russell of the Collingwood Group, a Washington-based firm that often consults with municipal governments.
Learn more by going here
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net. He doesn’t have a real nickname, but he is also a regular contributor to the Tribune’s Chicago Now network, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com
He does a weekly radio segment on Chicagoland Sports Radio.com and Cleveland.com
You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank