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Calgary, AB • Canada • 30 Years Old • Male
Jean Charest, Premier of Quebec, said this week that after talking with Gary Bettman, he is confident NHL hockey will return to Quebec City. “It is going to happen,” said the Premier, citing plans to build a new arena to lure the NHL back to Quebec’s capital city.

Cela est une grande idée Jean. But here’s why it ain’t gonna happen.

1. Population of Quebec City. It has historic battlefields, a beautiful riverside setting, and the largest winter festival in the world. What it doesn’t have is people. According to the 2006 census, there are only 715, 515 people in the metropolitan area of Quebec City, which would make it by far the smallest market in the NHL. (Edmonton is currently the smallest, with 1,034,945, but is still 44% larger than Quebec City.) There simply aren’t enough people in Quebec City to sustain an NHL team. A major arena needs to be filled more than just the 41 times per year that an NHL team would be playing. There also needs to be concerts, trade shows, conventions, etc. I don’t think that Quebec City’s small population would be able to make an arena of this size feasible.

A small population also means the media numbers would be low. With just over 700,000 people, there wouldn't be a significant TV or radio audience. Add to this that any boradcast would most likely be in French only, it would further limit the team from picking up any viewers in the Northeastern US or the Maritimes. While the Flames and Oilers, which don’t have very large population bases either, can draw TV audiences from other parts of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and eastern British Columbia, a Quebec City team would be forced to compete with the Canadiens for any viewers out side of the city itself; a battle I don't see them winning anytime soon.

2. Corporate Money. There isn’t any. Or at least there isn’t enough. Quebec City is a government town, not a center of business and commerce. The majority of people work for the government in one capacity or another. While government jobs offer above average pay scales, government departments or agencies are unable to buy luxury boxes, club seating or even season tickets. Nobody working for the Federal Government ever says, “I have my company’s tickets tonight, wanna go?” And if that did happen, I’m sure most Canadians would be outraged that their tax dollars were going toward hockey tickets. Ottawa has a similar problem being primarily a government town. There aren't nearly as many large corporations as Toronto, Vancouver or Calgary, which means fewers corporate sales, which bring in millions of dollars each year from club seating and luxury suites. There simply are not enough companies in Quebec City that could afford to purchase a luxury suite for $200,000, or buy season tickets in a club section, and the average Joe cannot afford to pay even close to what most companies can pay for these seats.

3. The Arena. Mr Charest says that they will build an NHL calibre arena, capable of hosting not only a hockey team, but also the Winter Olympics. First off, that would be at least seven or eight years away before an arena could be built, and that’s if they started tomorrow. While he may say that his government is willing to pay 200 or 300 million dollars toward an arena, we’ll have to wait and see what the people have to say about it. The people in Quebec might not be too happy seeing so much of their money going toward another arena or stadium. They need only look at Olympic Stadium in Montreal, which ended up costing $1.6 billion, took 30 years to pay off, and is perhaps the biggest white elephant in Canada, no longer being used for anything except one or two Alouette games each year. A new arena in Quebec City would sit empty a lot of the year as well, as their small population wouldn’t be able to fill it.

4. The NHL. Gary Bettman and the National Hockey League, despite what Jean Charest feels, have no interest in moving to Quebec City. For starters, it is far too small a market, lacking both people and corporate money. Secondly, the people in Quebec City are already hockey fans and already follow the NHL. If the Lightning moved from Tampa to Quebec, what few people followed the Lightning would probably stop watching hockey all together, causing the NHL to lose fans. Meanwhile there isn’t any increase by moving to a team to Quebec, as those fans are simply changing their allegiance. On the off, off chance that Quebec ever did receive a team, I would think it would be an expansion team, not through a relocation, which leads to the final reason. After fighting so hard to keep the NHL in Phoenix, why would they suddenly let another franchise pick up stakes and move to Quebec City? The answer is they wouldn’t and they won’t.

There is a reason that the Nordiques moved in the first place. They weren’t viable 15 years ago, and there’s no reason to think they would be viable in 2010. The list of cities that will be home to an NHL franchise before Quebec City is long; Hamilton, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Houston, Seattle, Portland, Hartford and Milwaukee. All have larger populations, better arenas and more money, and if by chance a team relocated, it would be to one of these cities before Quebec City.

Read more at http://calgaryontheflames.blogspot.com
Filed Under:   nhl   quebec   coyotes   canadiens   lightning  
December 14, 2009 3:13 PM ET | Delete
Okay. But, I don't think it takes 7 or 8 years to build an arena.
December 14, 2009 4:14 PM ET | Delete
Just asking, on a note of population did you think a stadium would work in Green Bay? The rest I pretty much agree with.
December 14, 2009 6:33 PM ET | Delete
December 14, 2009 9:49 PM ET | Delete
December 15, 2009 2:55 AM ET | Delete
TJD92295: I see what you're saying with Green Bay...small population, huge support. I think the difference is that the NFL has massive national TV money, making any local contracts irrelevant or unnecessary. The NHL doesn't have this. Also, Green Bay became a team in the 1920's. If the Packesr had been an expansion team in the 90's, they wouldn't have that huge following. There just wouldn't be enough support.
December 15, 2009 2:58 AM ET | Delete
The Richard Riot: No...you're right, it doesn't take that long to build, but I don't think anything is ready. If it was decided today, to build an arena in Quebec, they would need to secure land, make zoning changes, do studies, surveys, and secure funding, before they started to build. The actual construction wouldn't take that long, but the whole process might.
December 15, 2009 7:21 PM ET | Delete
December 15, 2009 7:21 PM ET | Delete
Population base was not even remotely an issue 15 years ago. Definitely not a problem today. On top of that, Quebec city drew fans from regions like Saguenay - Lac St-Jean and the north shore of the St-Lawrence river and some from the south shore. All beyond the greater metropolitan area I might add.
December 15, 2009 7:22 PM ET | Delete
Corporate money - It was a problem 15 years ago only for corporate-luxury boxes but certainly not for potential season ticket holders, radio-tv and the advertisers. Advertisers have been placing their chips for a while now as well for things like the arena, tv ads and radio. Possibility to sell boxes is no longer a problem since 03-04 with the corporate scenery haven been changed enough.
December 15, 2009 7:22 PM ET | Delete
December 15, 2009 7:24 PM ET | Delete
December 15, 2009 7:24 PM ET | Delete
December 15, 2009 7:26 PM ET | Delete
The Arena - It was the major problem 15 years ago and what made the move happen. Unable to build it, since nobody had pockets deep enough to have it built and the few who could afford it did not want to because it was either a bad investment with no ROI short to mid term or badly viewed generally. Now all conditions are there. Not seen in a negatively, much much more deep pockets around and of those, many who want to invest in this venture as well.
December 15, 2009 7:28 PM ET | Delete
December 15, 2009 7:30 PM ET | Delete
December 15, 2009 7:30 PM ET | Delete
NHL - It can only be good in any way ou look at it. They need to come back to markets like these as well. losing a few Lightning or Phoenix fans and replacing them with a magnitude more of old but new fans, who want to buy merchandise, watch religiously the rivalry etc... makes this a win win for everybody. Quebec already needs a new arena for so many things and reasons. The Olympics and getting their team back just makes it fall into the short to mid term.
December 17, 2009 10:34 AM ET | Delete
December 17, 2009 10:34 AM ET | Delete
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