Quebecor joins arena plan, eyes NHL team
KARINE GAGNON, QMI Agency
|Quebecor Inc. president and CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau (right) and Quebec City mayor Regis Labeaume speak to the media at city hall in Quebec City on March 1, 2011. (STEVENS LEBLANC/QMI Agency)
QUEBEC CITY - Quebecor will manage an NHL-ready arena in Quebec City when it is built, Mayor Regis Labeaume told a news conference Tuesday.
Now the next step for Quebecor CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau is to buy an NHL team.
During a press conference Tuesday, Peladeau said that not only does he consider Quebec to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world but also the "best hockey city."
Peladeau has agreed to a deal on rent -- with or without an NHL team -- for the next 25 years. The new arena, even without a hockey team, is expected to draw large-scale shows.
But Quebecor sees the facility as an important asset in the drive to bring a team back to the Quebec capital, Peladeau said.
"This is a project that is close to my heart and I continue to put all of my energy into making it happen," he said, adding that he will work "with the utmost respect for the (NHL's) business practices, including all discretion called for in this matter."
Peladeau also stressed that there was "no guarantee for now from the NHL that there will be a National Hockey League team (in Quebec)."
Yvon Pedneault, a respected journalist who reports extensively on hockey, said Quebecor's involvement in the project puts Quebec City in a good position to welcome an NHL franchise back to town.
"(NHL) commissioner Gary Bettman knows he can now have a team in Quebec City," Pedneault said. "We were saying last week that Winnipeg was in a better position to get a concession from the league, but that's not true today. Quebec and Winnipeg are even."
Quebecor owns QMI Agency, as well as several other media properties across Canada, including the Sun Media newspaper chain and Canoe web site.
Last month, Quebec politicians pledged to build the rink in the provincial capital without federal or private cash, unveiling a $400-million financing plan some critics say will strain the public purse.
Labeaume had said his administration would triple its commitment to $187 million by borrowing $125 million over 20 years. The increased contribution will cover the shortfall left by the federal government, which has expressed hesitation about using taxpayer money for pro sports facilities.
Premier Jean Charest said the province would beef up its commitment to 50% of the total costs, or $200 million.
He has targeted 2015 as a completion date.
Quebec City lost the Nordiques to Colorado in 1995.