Quebec City to finally start building arena

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?

You can follow me on Twitter to get updates on the Canadiens and the NHL in general.

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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.

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Fred Poulin and Dominic D., Fred Poulin. Fred Poulin said: Quebec City to finally start building arena – #Charest #Labeaume #Nordiques [...]

  2. anthony c says:

    I got a bad feeling it’s the Islanders who will be heading there. The timing of this makes you think. Since you figure the arena will break ground in spring or summer, and will be done in about 2 years or so. And the Isles lease at nassau coliseum expires 2 years later in 2015, plus there is nothing new with the status of the lighthouse project or a new arena in general be it suffolk county, queens or even brooklyn. This coming from someone who’s been a die hard Isles fan for almost 20 years. However, it could end up being the thrashers since the ownership group has been a mess for almost the entire existence of the team, and fan support has been horrible (just look at their attendance, and they are in the playoff hunt). I still believe the coyotes will go back to winnipeg. The NHL owners won’t allow the fiasco in phoenix to carry on beyond this season into next season. The panthers could also be the ones who end up in quebec, since some believe phoenix will go back to winnipeg, and either the thrashers or panthers will go to quebec.

    • Fred Poulin says:

      Things will certainly have to improve in NY for the Islanders to remain there, as their owner, the city and the fans don’t seem to care much about the fate of the Islanders!

      • anthony c says:

        The fans do care. When they had the rally for lighthouse almost 2 summers ago over 5,000 people showed up considering it was early in the morning on I think a tuesday. And when your owner is keeping fans in the dark with just about everything there is not much they can do. Plus when he is not bringing in good players to help the rebuild go along a bit quicker then the fans won’t come out. The fans believe wang could care less about the on ice product, and from the look of things what they believe seems true.

  3. anthony c says:

    My bad on the contruction starting in the spring/summer part. I wasn’t paying attention there.

  4. [...] funding from the coffers of the ruling Conservative government.  As chronicled by colleague Fred Poulin of Hockey Independent, the municipal Quebec City and provincial Quebec governments announced on February 10 that they would collaborate to fund a new $400-million multi-purpose arena [...]

  5. [...] to bring back an NHL team to a hockey-crazy market and the city has announced back in February the construction of a multipurpose facility in downtown Quebec that is slated to begin at the fall on 2011. Recently, several NHL franchises [...]