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Could new Quebec arena open doors for federal spending on arenas?

Canadian FlagWith Prime Minister Stephen Harper signaling that the Canadian federal government may spend some serious money to build a new Quebec City arena and look at spending similar money on arenas across the country, reaction was mixed — especially in cities who spent a lot on their own arenas.

Traditionally, the federal government has not spent a lot on arenas and sporting facilities, leaving the heavy lifting to cities and provinces. But election-year politics are causing Harper and other Tories to step up with support of federal funding of a new C$400M Quebec City arena to replace Le Colisée; city and provincial sources have stepped up with more than half the cost, leaving a significant gap. A new arena gives Quebec City a shot at luring the NHL and perhaps the 2022 Winter Olympics.

The suggestion by Harper that the federal government may step in to help pay for arenas isn’t going over too well in cities like Winnipeg and Hamilton, where they think they have a shot at landing an NHL team as well. Both will need some arena improvements to land the NHL, but they’re pushed farther down the queue if Quebec City leaps to the front of the line with a new arena. It’s debatable how many NHL teams could be available for relocation; the Atlanta Thrashers are perpetually on the verge of being on the market, and both the Phoenix Coyotes and Nashville Predators could be available down the road. And, of course, we’re sure the owners of the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames instantly began to salivate.

The whole issue of arena funding is certain to be an important issue down the road, with the Tories for (ironically) and the Liberals agreeing, to an extent.

RELATED STORIES: Province will pay up to 45 percent of new Quebec City arena; Quebec City on verge of new arena, return of NHL?

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