New Quebec City arena on the table
Published Monday, September 6, 2010 11:13AM EDT
The re-birth of the Battle of Quebec could be on its way as Premier Jean Charest is scheduled to meet with Quebec City Mayor Regis Labeaume to discuss the construction of a new arena pivotal for the return of the NHL to the provincial capital.
The Journal de Quebec reported Sunday that the meeting will take place Tuesday at the National Assembly and will also include Sam Hamad, provincial minister responsible for Quebec City. The newspaper also reported that the provincial government will announce its financial commitment to the project, the cost of which is evaluated at $400 million.
Labeaume's municipal government has committed $50 million and is seeking $175 million from the provincial and federal governments. Charest announced during the last election campaign that the province would match the city's $50 million, but said early this summer that the amount could increase.
Federal Treasury Board President Stockwell Day said recently that Quebec City should not require Ottawa's help because of its robust economy, which he said was the second-best in the country after Calgary's. However, Prime Minister Stephen Harper briefly mentioned last week how he would like to see the return of the Nordiques to Quebec City.
A new arena would be vital in bringing an NHL team back to the provincial capital for the first time since the Quebec Nordiques left to become the Colorado Avalanche in 1995, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said recently.
The Nordiques had a heated rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens, something Labeaume and Charest appear very interested in bringing back.
The arena would also allow Quebec City to make a bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Labeaume made the construction of a new arena a major issue in the last municipal elections, but the minority opposition of the Quebec City municipal council is calling for a referendum on the proposed project this fall. Labeaume, however, wants the issue tied to the 2013 municipal elections, which is only two years before the deadline for submissions to host the 2022 Winter Olympics.
A rally is being organized Oct. 2 on the Plains of Abraham to try and pressure the government to make the return of the Nordiques a reality. Quebec City media reports indicate that former Nordiques great Marian Stastny would attend, while others like Joe Sakic, Dale Hunter and Peter and Anton Stastny had also been invited.