Quebec City announces bid for $400 million arena

The Canadian Press
10/16/2009 11:12:53 PM
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QUEBEC -- Quebec City has announced its intention to build a modern arena in the hope of bringing back an NHL team, a decade and a half after the city lost its beloved Nordiques.

Mayor Regis Labeaume told a news conference Friday that the city's longstanding dream of hosting an Olympic Games is also a pipe dream without a new arena.

He said he's hired engineering firm SNC Lavalin to conduct a feasibility study, and hopes to see the arena built from 2010 to 2012.

Labeaume said he expects the arena to cost about $400 million -- and that the city would put up $50 million.

He wants the federal and provincial governments to pony up $175 million each under infrastructure programs.

He said that Ottawa and the Quebec government have spent hundreds of millions to help other cities build sports and culture infrastructure.

While asking for money from Ottawa and the provincial government, Labeaume -- who is in the middle of an election campaign -- promised that Quebec City residents would not see their own taxes go up.

Labeaume said a new arena would not necessarily guarantee the arrival of an NHL team. But, he added in the next breath, the absence of one would guarantee no return of the NHL.

Quebec lost its Nordiques in 1995, when they left to become the Colorado Avalanche.

The city's aging Colisee arena has been cited as the main reason for its inability to hold an NHL team.

"The current Colisee is a relic from another era," Labeaume said.

"The time has come to offer our population a modern arena. . . A modern nordic city needs a modern arena."

Labeaume said the city needs an arena for several reasons, in addition to replacing the Nordiques.

He said the city needs a larger, more modern space to attract top-notch cultural events and conventions.

Quebec already has a convention centre but it's modest in size compared with an arena.

As for the Colisee, it was consistently full even when the cellar-dwelling Nordiques were the laughing stock of the league. But the building lacked luxury suites and other amenities of a modern arena.

Labeaume met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman last week to discuss his plans.

He told the news conference that hockey is a "religion" to Quebecers.

Quebec City (Photo: The Canadian Press)


(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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