Earlier today at the Old Colisee in Quebec City, Mayor Regis Labeaume and Prime Minister Jean Charest address the press during the annual Pee-Wee Tournament to announce the construction of a new multipurpose arena in the area. The announcement came after several months of spirited public and national debate about who will be responsible for the funding of an arena for a non-existent NHL team.
The two governments will split the cost of building a $400-million 18,000-seat arena, without the participation of the federal government or the private sector. As a result, the project will proceed with a 50-50 funding arrangement between the province and city. Originally, the city was supposed to fund $50M and the provincial government 45% of the construction costs, but since the federal government was so hesitant to participate in the project, they decided to go with plan B.
Mayor Labeaume announced his plans to communicate the news immediately to the NHL.
“I will announce in the coming hours to the commissioner of the National Hockey League, Gary Bettman, that Quebec City will go ahead with the construction of a new multi-purpose amphitheatre in partnership with the Quebec government,” Labeaume said this morning.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman declared during the All-Star weekend in Raleigh, NC, that, even with a new arena, there’s no guarantee that Quebec City will get its Nordiques back, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
“The Nordiques need a modern arena,” Labeaume told the numerous reporters attending the news conference, referencing the transfer of the Quebec Nordiques to Colorado in 1995. “The longer we wait, the more it will cost to build. Construction will begin in the next few months.”
Mr. Labeaume unveiled the location of the new arena — which will be built close to the old one and near one of Quebec City’s busiest highways to maximize the visibility of the arena’s name that will be sold to a private investor as a mean to generate additional revenues.
The construction of the new NHL-ready building is set to start at the beginning of 2013 for an opening planned for the fall of 2015.
The mayor also left the door open to federal involvement in the project, but indicated it’s not necessary to build the state-of-the-art facility needed to lure an NHL franchise to the city. He added his government will continue talks with the private sector in order to secure additional funding for the project.
Quebecor CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau, owner of QMI Agency and of Videotron, had announced a few weeks ago he offered to contribute about $70M to the project. A local group of private investors called J’ai Ma Place (I Have my Seat) has already raised $13.5 million for the construction. It is still unknown if that money will be used in the construction of the new facility.
A group of hockey fans called Nordiques Nation, will attend the game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, February 12th, 2011 at Bell Centre to show the NHL how passionate Quebec City’s hockey fans are. They will wear vintage Nordiques jerseys and blue Nordiques Nation t-shirts to make an impression on Gary Bettman and the NHL executives.
Back in December, more than 1,100 hockey fans from La Belle Province attended a game in Long Island between the Islanders and the Atlanta Thrashers: The Nordiques Nation will invade Nassau Coliseum
With the construction of a state-of-the-art facility, do you believe the NHL, under commissioner Gary Bettman, will ever make a return to in Quebec City? If so, which team would likely be moved? The Thrashers, the Coyotes, the Islanders, or the Panthers?
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About the Author: Working as a freelance sports writer and translator, Fred, 33, graduated from Laval University in Quebec City, earning a bachelor of translation in 2002. An avid fan of the Northeast division teams, he's also a long time fan of the Washington Capitals and the Montreal Canadiens. Fred also speaks fluently French and Spanish. http://twitter.com/FredPoulin98 www.traductions-quebec.com