NHL Set For New Quebec Development

By iSportconnect | March 27, 2012

The National Hockey League (NHL) is remaining non-committal after Quebec City announced it would begin development of a new NHL-ready arena in September.

The Canadian city lost the Nordiques franchise in 1995, when the team left Quebec City to become the Colorado Avalanche. Quebec’s arena announcement comes as question marks continue over the long-term future of the Phoenix Coyotes. The NHL has operated the Coyotes since 2009, but has recently stated that it would no longer be able to support the franchise if a new owner is not found in the next few months. This would leave the Coyotes open to a potential relocation. However, when asked whether the possibility of the Coyotes being relocated to Quebec was strengthened by the city’s announcement on Sunday, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told CBC Sports: “No, there’s nothing new here.”

The C$400 million (US$403 million) multi-functional arena will have a capacity of around 18,000 and is expected to be completed by September 2015. Quebec City Mayor Regis Labeaume said the city can proceed with the project after finalising a deal with the Quebecor media group before a March 31 deadline. “Today, the dream becomes a reality,” he said at a news conference.

Quebecor has secured the naming rights to the arena, along with the exclusive rights to manage the facility. If the city secures an NHL team, Quebecor will reportedly pay $63.5 million for naming rights, plus $5 million in annual rent. Without an NHL franchise, these figures will reduce to $33 million and $3.15 million respectively.

“There are no more obstacles, no more way out and no more uncertainty. What was once only a project today really starts to take form,” said Pierre Karl Péladeau, president and CEO of Quebecor. “Throughout construction and for the next 25 years, Quebecor Media intends to work with Quebec City residents and businesses, along with municipal and provincial governments to make sure this arena is an economic, cultural and sport success that will help Quebec City and the talents of its citizens shine for many years to come.”