February 10, 2011
Picture this: You're still in love with your ex, and get the vibe that if conditions are right there's the possibility for a second chance.
So in an effort to show how you've changed and how confident you are about the success of this reconciliation, you commit to buying a new $400 million mansion -- without a single concrete promise that they'll move in with you.
And in other news, Quebec and Quebec City announced they're co-funding a $400 million hockey arena with 2015 as the target date for completion ...
From the Canadian Press:
The project's backers announced Thursday that, without any guarantee of outside cash pouring in, they were going with Plan B.
Mayor Regis Labeaume and Premier Jean Charest told a crowded news conference that the project will proceed with a 50-50 funding arrangement between the province and city.
The mayor said he planned to discuss the matter immediately with NHL bosses. "I will announce in the coming hours to the commissioner of the National Hockey League, Gary Bettman, that Quebec City will go ahead with the construction of a new multi-purpose amphitheatre in partnership with the Quebec government," Labeaume said Thursday.
What Bettman has said about putting the $400 million cart before the horse:
"We don't get involved in the creation of a building in Quebec City or anywhere else," Bettman said. "Because we tell people who are building buildings, don't build it with the expectation you're going to have a team because we're not going to make you that promise."
There are still funding issues to be sussed out with this new barn, but it appears Quebec will have an NHL-ready facility by 2015. The question then becomes whether having an NHL-ready building means your building will be filled by the NHL, and Kansas City's been asking that for the last few years.
Of course, conditions are slightly different in the former home of the Nordiques.
By the time this Quebec arena opens, there's a chance Winnipeg could have another NHL franchise. They're clearly on the NHL's radar, whether it's been as a negotiating ploy in Glendale or as a legitimate Plan B for relocation.
So if the lowest-hanging fruit in the NHL falls to Winnipeg in the next few seasons, what happens in Quebec? Another relocation to Canada rather than to a new U.S. market? Expansion?
Give the province and the city props for a ballsy gambit that could mean political suicide in this economic climate (even if the return of the NHL isn't exactly a poisonous stance to take). It establishes a target date, and we imagine the pressure on the NHL will crescendo as this is completed. And that could mean three or even four trips to Nassau!
Truth be told, Winnipeg holds a more nostalgic kick for me than does Quebec City, but that might be due to my having covered the Jets' fan movement in the past and my admitted Bob Essensa fetish.
But Quebec City has always struck me as the sounder economic decision of the two, as Rosie DiManno wrote in the Toronto Star:
What the NHL failed to grasp was the boutique value of a Quebec City franchise and how the city’s francophone splendours could be exploited in a league with too many blah, unloved, ill-suited-to-hockey charter members.
Unlike several existing NHL franchises in an over-expanded league, the Nordiques enjoyed an avid fan base. And it’s still there, pining for the return of an NHL team. A year ago, a non-profit group, J’ai ma place, claimed it had sold 70 corporate boxes for a non-existent rink.
With that, visions dance in our heads of the New Nords and the Montreal Canadiens spilling blood on the ice. And hey, by 2015, there's probably still a chance for Quebec to take part in Peter Forsberg's(notes) 32nd comeback.