Monday, 20 February 2012

Quebec City Looks To Build

The man pictured to the left is Claude Rousseau. Mr. Rousseau is the man appointed by Quebec City Mayor Regis Labeaume to ensure that the cost of building a new arena does not go over the $400 million budgeted. I'm pretty sure that some of the more modern arenas cost beyond that figure after all the invoices were paid, but Mr. Rousseau has been selected to keep the arena's cost under or at budget. I believe it's possible to come in near the $400 million tabbed for the project, but there have already been costs associated with the project when shovels have yet to break ground.

I'm not an economist in any way, but there's always been a competition between Montreal and Quebec City when it comes to hockey. From the glory days when the Stastnys took the Quebec Nordiques to new heights against a Canadiens team led by Lafleur and Robinson, the passion for Quebec City to be equal to Montreal in their new arena might play a factor in this $400 million price tag.

If we use Montreal as the measuring stick, the Bell Centre, which opened on March 16, 1996, cost approximately $270 million to build. If we assume that building costs for materials has increased by 10% over the last sixteen years, that would push this figure to $297 million by today's value. That would be the starting point at which Mr. Rousseau needs to consider - nearly 75% of the money is already spent. This $297 million leaves $103 million for any costs not identified strictly as building costs.

The site chosen for the new arena has already had a price tag attached to it as well: $40 million. That's the cost to have the proposed site of the arena decontaminated after it was found that the land near Le Colisée Pepsi has high levels of lead, tin, zinc, oil and carcinogens. Quebec City executive committee vice-president Francois Picard has stated that they are looking at alternate sites nearby to build the rink, but the room available near Le Colisée Pepsi is still the most ideal spot. Adding in the decontamination costs, and that drops the available monies down to $63 million.

Of course, $63 million is a lot of money to have left over for you or I, but if we consider all the amenities that Pittsburgh's Consol Energy Center offers and that arena cost approximately $320 million to build, we're now looking at the remaining amount to being closer to $30 million. And while we still don't have a guarantee of a team to move in, I'm 100% sure that the price tag for an NHL team is slightly higher than the $30 million left over.

While everyone seems focused on Seattle's new possible arena deal as a destination for the beleaguered Coyotes, Quebec City's location might actually serve as a better destination for realignment. Winnipeg, as I'm sure you're aware, is still committed to the Southeast Division for at least next season, and that can't go on for much longer when one considers the amount of miles Winnipeg racks up going to Florida six times per season.

Regardless of how the conferences shuffle, there's a chance that Quebec City's arena plans could certainly fit under the $400 million limit that the city is willing to spend. Reality says that the costs will potentially run higher, but some good project management and shrewd business decisions could see this project come in at budget at the desired price.

Of course, there's still the matter of filling the arena with a full-time tenant, but if you build it, they could potentially come. The NHL no longer wants to own a team, and Quebec City certainly wants one. Having an NHL-suitable arena and a possible owner in Quebecor will certainly help Quebec City's chances in resurrecting Les Nordiques.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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