Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Quebec City: the last straw

I'm not the first or the last person to enter the debate about bringing NHL hockey back to Quebec City. I haven't spent much time in Quebec City but I like it there. And, obviously, I might like hockey. I think there are good arguments on both sides of the debate, but I've made up my mind. Sorry, old Nordiques fans.

I don't want a team in Quebec City if I have to pay for it.

As you've likely already heard, there's a push within government to pay 45% of the construction costs of a new arena/amphitheatre in Quebec City. I can't be the only person out there who finds this a bit ridiculous.

First of all, the Colisee is still an adequate venue for concerts and public events. I went to a concert there last year and it wasn't in shambles. It's a little old, and not as shiny or as spacious as the Bell Centre, but there's nothing wrong with it as a venue for concerts and whatnot. If by chance an NHL team moves or is added in Quebec, then a new arena to house the team is a good idea. Otherwise, it's not a necessity.

If there's so much interest in bringing the NHL back to Quebec City, how come there isn't more money involved at this stage? There are a few wealthy people in this province, including those who entered the fray when the Canadiens were up for sale last year. Surely some of them are legitimately interested in buying a sports team and weren't just taking advantage of the Canadiens' centennial anniversary and its press coverage. (Okay, I'm being naive here.) Has Jim Balsillie decided to give up on the dream that used to keep him in the news? Does he know that there's been more and more talk about this bid to get another hockey team in Canada? (Please ignore the can of worms I opened by saying "Canada") Maybe Balsillie has stopped trying, realizing that Gary Bettman (not unlike the iPhone) will beat him every time.

State-of-the-art arenas don't exactly come cheap. Building the Bell Centre cost about $270 million. Three levels of government will be paying for about half a stadium. Can't our government's money be better spent? We have bridges that need repairs, roads that need paving, and flaws in our healthcare system that should have been fixed already. Our CEGEPs are overcrowded and our unemployment rates could probably be better. Why can't this money go to public transit or any other more pressing matter before making lofty promises to hockey fans?

I don't want two hockey teams to be the only pride of this province. I'd prefer it if our government took care of our needs before our wants, because there are some things that private investors can't take care of.


  1. I tend to agree with you. While I would LOVE to see a Montreal - Quebec rivalry renewed, I fail to see why I, you, or the family in Hemmingsford who doesn't care one lick about hockey should have to pay for part of it.

    I'm also in the camp that says "where was that government money when the Expos needed a new stadium?". A new stadium would have revived the franchise and brought SO much more money in to the province's the tune of 81 times per season x 30,000+ people, instead of 41 times per season x 18,000 people. I realize many don't care for baseball, and could care less that the Expos left, but money is money and Expos used to drive a ton of it, and could have done so again. But then what is this really about if not money?

    Votes. That's what. In one fell swoop, Jean Charest is fixing to buy off every single voter in the Quebec City region for the next election.

    We can cry all we want about roads, health care and education. These are things that will always be there...I'm beginning to think that politicians intentionally leave those things in shambles so that they can promise to fix them the next time around. But this is a hockey team, and far more sexy than potholes, pneumonia and potheads in school. The conditions are right now for the NHL's return to Quebec, and Charest has a chance to paint himself as a hero to many voters.

    My 2 cents, for what it's worth!

  2. You bring up a good point with the Expos issue, which also reminds me that our Olympic Stadium might not completely be paid for.

    If a politician could make just one campaign promise and follow through on it completely, in a short amount of time, it would be better than any lofty idea.

  3. Damn I'm sorry I missed that post. I was actually thinking about writing a little something about the same topic. I agree with you. I'm gonna write that post I think!


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