Gary Bettman

After a fifteen-year absence, Gary Bettman has made it clear that the NHL would like to be back in Québec City...but not without a new rink

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.

Le Colisee

Québec City's Le Colisée is obsolete. It was home to the Nordiques thirty years ago...and the Québec Aces before that.

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.

Chuck Strahl

Canadian Minister Chuck Strahl is talking tough now about federal funding for a new arena in Québec City. We'll see if that lasts.

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!

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4 Responses to “Québec City – hoping you get a new NHL arena…but not with my money”

  1. Fred says:

    Bang on Big Mouth, though I am somewhat surpised at your take on this. Not the Quebec gets more angle, but no subsidization for pro sports. Either the private sector funds it, or it doesn’t go. Even if it means the Oilers get into a tough place with Katz.

  2. Big Mouth says:

    If every pro sports team was a community-owned venture, and many, many citizens were directly benefitting from a team’s existence in a city, I’d be fine with public funding. Or, if you want to have a referendum to determine if the public was in favour of helping, say, Darryl Katz build his new Edmonton rink, I’d be OK with that.

    But having dough-headed politicians arbitrarily, and unilaterally, decide that millions and millions of our hard-earned tax dollars should go toward helping Darryl build his new house…totally against that.

  3. Fred says:

    Did you know there are many pro sports stadiums have been built with public funds and now not only don’t have teams playing in them but are abandoned or demolished, and they still owe money?

    And guess who is on the hook? Taxpayers. Giants Stadium is now gone and the taxpayers of New York still owe $110 million. The Kingdome in Seattle is abandoned and the citizens still owe $80 million. The story is the same in Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Houston, Kansas City, Memphis and Pittsburgh – all abandoned stadiums the public still owes money on.

    The madness must end! Just my opinion.

  4. Big Mouth says:

    The Kingdome is the saddest/most pathetic example. It hosted the Mariners and Seahawks from 1976-99. That’s only 23 years! Problem is that when you build one of the very first covered stadiums, it becomes obsolete almost immediately. Rogers Centre in Toronto is in the same boat. First retractible stadium…obsolete almost immediately.

    Until politicians are accountable beyond their term of service, this ain’t gonna change, my friend.

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