Canada: No arena subsidies if it’s for a pro team

In yet another indication that Canada remains a different country from the U.S., the federal government is threatening to withdraw funding for an amateur hockey rink in Laval, Quebec, because it’s learned that a minor-league pro team might move there:

There are growing rumours that the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League — the farm team of the National Hockey League’s Montreal Canadiens — are planning to move into the Laval arena when it will be built.

Ottawa is now warning that it will pull the plug on the project unless if obtains guarantees that the arena will not be used by an AHL or a major-junior hockey team. Otherwise, the government fears that it will be hit with a new round of lobbying for other sports infrastructure projects in cities like Quebec City, Edmonton and Regina.

“If we allow a breach in our policy, we’re toast,” a federal official said.

From the sound of it, part of the reason for the reversal was griping by city officials in Quebec City that the Laval arena was getting federal stimulus money and their own proposed NHL arena (which still isn’t any closer to having a team than when it was approved last year) wasn’t. Still, the concept that giving public money to one team might be a bad idea because it will encourage other teams to ask for it too is a notion that most U.S. officials would likely find … well, foreign.