MONTREAL — An NHL team could be one step closer to returning to Quebec City following a major financial commitment Tuesday from the city’s mayor and Premier Jean Charest.
Quebec says it is willing to pay 45%, approximately $180 million, to build a $400 million arena that is crucial to drawing NHL hockey to the capital.
League commissioner Gary Bettman has said that the city’s existing aging arena cannot support an NHL franchise.
Municipal officials in Quebec City said they would contribute $50 million toward a new facility, leaving Ottawa to fund the remaining $130 million.
“It’s major for us,” Quebec City Mayor Regis Lebeaume told a news conference with Charest by his side. “There are now two partners out of three.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said last week that he’d like to see NHL hockey in Quebec City, but his government has sent mixed messages about whether it would be willing to put any money behind the idea.
Josee Verner, federal minister of intergovernmental affairs and a Quebec City MP, has said she still needs to study a recently completed report on the project's financing before committing any government funding.
Her colleague, Treasury Board president Stockwell Day, has previously said the province should fund the project without federal assistance.
A report released Tuesday by the accounting firm Ernst & Young recommends the construction of an 18,000-seat amphitheatre that would be publicly-funded and could generate up to $1.5 million in annual revenues.
The Quebec Nordiques moved to Colorado in 1995.