February 6, 2013
Markham arena not a threat to Quebec City, promoter saysRoustan denies rivalry between potential NHL expansion markets
By MATHIEU BOULAY, QMI Agency
MONTREAL - Markham’s $320 million, NHL-size arena project will not crush Quebec City’s dreams of re-gaining an NHL franchise, said a Montreal businessman who is heading up the Toronto-area project.
Roustan, one of the private investors for the Markham, Ont. arena project, told QMI Agency that there is no rivalry between the two cities.
“There are two nice projects in two extraordinary cities,” he said. “Each deserves credit. I’ll say right now: If Quebec City gets a team, I’ll be at the first game.”
Roustan’s arena project, to be called the GTA Centre, passed a major hurdle last week after Markham’s city council voted 7-6 to continue with the public-private financing arrangement for the arena.
He said it could take up to six weeks for his company to be able to present a final financing plan on which city council will vote.
Roustan said Canada has room for at least two more NHL teams.
“I don’t have private information as to which NHL teams are profitable and which aren’t,” he said. “I think that many Canadian cities could be capable of supporting a pro-hockey franchise.”
Roustan said that a private study of the Markham market by a U.S. consulting firm revealed that the proposed NHL-size arena will be profitable with or without an NHL franchise.
“Not only did they tell me that I can make a profit – they guaranteed me,” he said.
While the Markham arena project is still in its infancy, Quebec City has already started constructing its $400 million, 18,000-seat NHL-size rink, which is scheduled to be completed in 2015.
However, the Markham project has an added edge that Roustan was careful to play down: Roustan and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman have ties spanning 20 years.
“I’ve known Bettman for 20 years and I am lucky to be able to speak with him regularly,” he said. “I don’t know if (my ties to Bettman) will help, since I don’t know all the details of the internal NHL process to acquire a team,” he said. “All I want is to have the chance to be admitted in the centre of the discussions.”