Under no circumstances should public money be used to help build arenas or stadiums anywhere Canada. Whatever team or teams play in these facilities are/will almost certainly be privately owned. Every Canadian NHL team is privately owned. Just three CFL teams are owned by the community – the Edmonton Eskimos, Saskatchewan Roughriders and Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Canadian Hockey League teams are almost exclusively privately owned. Private ownership must equal private funding for new facilities. Period.
Last month, at the World Hockey Summit in Toronto, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was on the hot seat. When questioned about the possibility of NHL hockey returning to Québec City, Bettman replied, “I wouldn’t even think about an NHL team in Québec City until there is a new arena in place.” Pressed about whether or not he’d consider Québec if the promise of a new arena was in place, Bettman came back with, “I won’t even speculate on that.” So the ball has started rolling.
There are no two ways about it – Québec City deserves, needs and should have an NHL team. They never should have lost the first one. The current arena in Québec City, Le Colisée, was built in 1949. Harry S. Truman was the U.S. President. It holds just over 15,000. A new arena is required. And here’s where the fun starts.
Because Gary Bettman has indicated that Québec City is indeed on the NHL’s radar, the money-grabbers have begun to mobilize. First, the project has been estimated to cost $400M. It’ll be at least 50% more than that, you jokers. And the pulling of the wool over the public’s eyes begins.
There is another component. Québec City is set to bid for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. That’s a joke. Anyone who thinks the IOC will award a second games to Canada, within a twelve-year period, is delusional. Not gonna happen. So, in the real world, this arena is only about the NHL – and maybe the QMJHL’s Québec Remparts.
The new Nordiques – or whatever you want to call them – will be owned by a small group of individuals. Guaranteed. Québec wants it both ways. They want to be considered a “distinct society” when it suits. Then, when it suits, they want the big bucks from the rest of the country for an arena from which only a few individuals will line their pockets. Must be nice. Federal money needs to be earmarked for the benefit of everyone. That goes for team owners in Québec, Ontario, Alberta and anywhere else north of the 49th. The Government of Saskatchewan has just come out and announced that they think Ottawa should pay about 25% of a new covered stadium in Regina. Regina doesn’t even need a covered stadium! The beauty of Taylor Field (I refuse to call it by the corporate name) is its location and exposure to the elements. http://yhoo.it/dAODSR
New Canadian Minster of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities Chuck Strahl has come out and stated that, “(financing for any new arena in Québec) really has to be driven by the private sector and so far that hasn’t happened.” Thank God. Someone who actually gets it.
And, sadly, we all know where this will end up. Some private funding will be procured, then the whining will start about needing federal money to bring the project to reality. Ottawa will cave and, with conditions attached, it will gladly open its money bag. The conditions will never, ever be met…but no one will care! We have a new arena! Yay! Lucky us!
Or, more precisely, lucky new team owners!