Quebec City to build NHL-ready arena in September
It's official. Quebec City says it will begin construction on a new NHL-style arena this September.
Now all the city needs is a team to play in it.
Mayor Regis Labeaume announced Sunday the $400-million arena will hold about 18,000 people, saying it would be comparable to a facility built for the league's Pittsburgh Penguins a year ago.
"Today, the dream becomes a reality," he told reporters at a news conference Sunday.
Labeaume said the city was able to go forward with the project after finalizing an agreement with Quebecor on Friday, a week before a March 31 deadline.
The media empire landed the naming rights for the future arena and was granted exclusive rights to manage the facility.
If an NHL team is acquired, Quebecor would hand over $63.5 million for naming rights, plus $5 million in annual rent. Without one, the company would pay $33 million for the rights and an average of $3.15 million annually for rent.
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"There are no more obstacles ... no more uncertainty about the construction of the amphitheatre," said Quebecor CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau, who was also at the news conference.
The arena is expected to be complete by September 2015, although there's no guarantee the city will ever get a team back.
The city lost its NHL team when the Nordiques moved to Denver in 1995.
Labeaume refused to speculate on whether his city was in line for a club. On Sunday, he was quick to shut down a reporter's question on the subject, perhaps trying to take a cautious approach with the league.
Research in Motion's former co-CEO Jim Balsillie was aggressive in his effort to bring a team to Hamilton, and ultimately failed.
Peladeau made no mention of the NHL in his statement either, saying the arena would be a multi-purpose facility that would make "all Quebecers proud."
Two Quebec ministers, Michelle Courchesne and Sam Hamad, were also on hand for the announcement.
The province and Quebec City have pledged millions in taxpayer money for the project.