SUN Hockey Pool

PM reverses course on Quebec arena

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:34 PM ET

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is playing down expectations that his government will pony up the bulk of the cash needed to build an NHL-sized arena in Quebec City.

In the face of a brewing backlash, the prime minister dropped several hints that Ottawa might not provide all of the estimated $180 million missing to build an arena.

The prime minister pointed out that Quebec City isn't the only project seeking federal funding for infrastructure projects. He said he has received similar demands from both NHL and CFL teams across the country.

"We're all fans of professional sports, we know they're important to our communities," Harper said.

"But professional sports are first and foremost the responsibility of the private sector."

Quebec's provincial and municipal governments have offered to foot more than half of the estimated $400-million bill for a Quebec City arena — but they want Ottawa to pay the rest.

Harper kept the door open for a federal role in funding such sports infrastructure projects — but he stressed that any such participation would have its limits.

"If there is to be any role for the federal government, first of all that role would have to be equitable across the country (and) treat everyone the same," he said.

"And it also has to be affordable, recognizing that this country is going to be moving into a period of fiscal restraint."


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