QUEBEC CITY - Media and telecom giant Quebecor, Inc. will pay $33 million for naming and management rights to an NHL-ready arena in the provincial capital, city officials announced Tuesday.
Quebecor, which owns QMI Agency and Sun Media newspapers, would nearly double its investment if Quebec City lands an NHL team, Mayor Regis Labeaume told a news conference.
Hopes are high for the return of big-time hockey to the city, 16 years after the Nordiques left for Colorado. Though several NHL teams are floundering south of the border, it's not clear if or when a team might be available for relocation.
Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau has made it clear he would be interested in owning any future NHL franchise in Quebec City, a government and tourist centre of 650,000 people.
The 25-year deal signed with the city includes a lease for a hockey team, a deal for events and performances and a naming-rights agreement. Quebecor will pay $33 million in September 2015, when the building is scheduled to open. That amount rises to $63.5 million if the city lands an NHL team
"The dream has come true," said Labeaume, who has lobbied vigorously for a team and an arena.
The provincial and municipal governments will finance the $400-million facility.
The financing and other aspects of the arena deal have been highly contested by elements of Quebec's political class.
Quebec City's former general manager, Denis de Belleval, has asked a judge to cancel the agreement, claiming that the parties didn't respect provincial tendering rules.
Others, including independent MP Andre Arthur, have criticized the decision by Premier Jean Charest's Liberal government to finance the arena without a guarantee the NHL will ever relocate to the province.