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December 21, 2010

Harper: No Canadian funds for arenas unless Olympics involved

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper continued his backpedaling from federal funding of sports facilities yesterday, telling the QMI news service that he doesn't intend to put public money into a new Quebec hockey arena. "Historically, any federal involvement in this type of project is minimal, modest," said Harper. "If we were to change that it would create a demand in every big city across the country." Yes, so you've said.

Harper did leave one loophole, however: He would consider arena funding if it were part of an Olympic bid. So now all Quebec has to do is win a Winter Olympics bid and ... oh, dear.


So the plans for a $450M arena have hit a snag with the Feds opting out on putting money into the project unless the Olympics are tied to it.

If you take out the planned federal funding you're left with about $250M: what does that buy you? Better yet, if the private sector and why don't they pony up a few bucks, get that total to $350-400M and make it happen if it's such a lucrative project for all of Quebec to be involved with?

Time to put up or shut up.

Posted by Andrew T on December 21, 2010 07:36 PM

The trouble with the private sector is that it tends to want a return on its investment that's more than "civic pride."

Posted by Neil deMause on December 21, 2010 07:47 PM

actually Neil , Stephen Harper has basically shutt most funding for Sports Venues with some very creative means. Halifax's bid for the commonwealth games was back by Harper with 400 million if the city won . Problem is the price tag is 2 to 3 billion and in the last games case in New Delhi from 5 to 10 billion.
Nova Scotia and Halifax Realized with their Debt position that the maximum share from the FEDs was 33 percent with the 400 million even having 3.5 million of bid campaign funding deducted.
Nova Scotia with less then one million people (and some of us with memories of Montreal 76') has a 12.5 billion dollar debt . the City of Halifax carries a 275 million dollar debt.
Harper allowed enough promise to make the locals feel good and the provincial politicians realize they would add a billion of two onto the debt for a nothing event.
Harper's funding proposal for Quebec is classic .
Harper has closed the door to multisports festival funding for the 2008 to 2018 period with a Two Multisports festival limit for Federal funding. Quebec City is unlikely to host before 2026 if America does not bid and win first. The Bid for 2022 will likely include an american candidate that will win to appease NBC or American TV. 2012 to 2020 will not have North American host cities. Rio 2016 is the only real good TV option for prime time for US networks bidding on the olympics TV rights
Harper knows this and thus he gives Quebec the finger without them realizing it.

Posted by paul taylor on December 21, 2010 09:19 PM


I think there might be another answer... take that 'committed' $250M, go see HOK/Populous or whatever they call themselves these days, and say this:

Build us a copy of the Xcel Centre (built 2000, cost $130M), or the Philips Arena (built 1999, cost $215M) if you want more suites and other upgrades. There are countless others built between 1994 and 2001, most of which would be well under $250M even accounting for inflation.

Some of the engineering will have to be updated to meet new codes, and I'm sure the clients would insist on a "Quebec City" exterior (not a big deal, as the exteriors are often done by other architects anyway), but you could still build a perfectly serviceable arena for that amount.

Something else host cities haven't figured out... you don't need to pay for a ground up one off building every time.

Posted by John Bladen on December 22, 2010 03:09 AM

I agree with you, John. If a city must build an arena for a team, why not build something serviceable and affordable in the meantime with the options to add and adjust as time goes on that can be purchased by the primary revenue recipient?

MSG is proving that you can tweak and pull an arena to make it more productive.

Everything I've read on Fenway says that its remodel has done wonders for it and the Red Sox revenue streams.

Why can't the modern arena adapt and evolve over time?

Seems like its near impossible to shake the suburban mentality of the modern arena/stadium.

Posted by Andrew T on December 24, 2010 09:41 AM

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