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New Quebec City arena: pro venue or community resource?

Quebec NordiquesAfter being teased by the Tories over federal funding, organizers of a new Quebec City arena are heeding a pledge by Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff to help fund the facility on the theory it’s not really a pro-hockey venue — it’s a community resource.

It’s an important distinction. Traditionally, the federal government hasn’t help fund Canadian arenas; that’s been an activity limited to provincial and city governments.

But the whole funding plan for the new Quebec City arena has been ensnared by politics from the very beginning. Prime Minister Stephen Harper initially promised federal funding as a way to curry favor with Quebecois voters, only to back down after criticism from members of his own party.

So it’s Ignatieff’s turn to pander. “We’ve been very clear about this — no federal government can subsidize the National Hockey League or private sports teams,” Ignatieff told reporters. “(But) where an amphitheatre, where a public space has potential to have (a) positive effect throughout the economy of a region, we think a federal contribution is appropriate.”

Of course, with the chance of national elections on the horizon, having an edge in Quebec is always a plus. So we’ll see whether the feds truly come up with money after any potential elections.

RELATED STORIES: Quebecor commits real money to new Quebec City arena; City, province to split cost of new Quebec City arena; New Quebec City arena a go?; Quebecor stepping up to fund Quebec City arena; Quebec City ready to move ahead without federal arena aid; Harper: No federal funding of arenas — unless Olympics are involved; Backup plan in works for Quebec City arena funding; Fallout from NHL to Quebec City could affect Remparts; Harper backtracks on federal funding of Quebec City arena; Could new Quebec arena open doors for federal spending on arenas? ; 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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