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Was Quebec City arena bidding process legal?

Quebec NordiquesWith Quebecor and NHL officials discussing a team for Quebec City, the possibility that the Canadian media giant illegally gained the right to manage a new arena is causing some to question whether the process should have been more open.

In theory, the bidding process for the naming-rights/management deal snared by Quebecor should have been open and publicized. It was not: there were six groups identified as being interested in running the arena, but that list was quickly winnowed down to two; Quebecor and Bell Canada. Now, there are relatively few firms with a track record of running an NHL-quality arena (AEG, SMG, Bell Canada, etc.), and Quebecor is not one of them. Quebec law requires a public tender process for all big contracts, a process that was apparently not followed in this case.

The solution: a bill before the National Assembly that waives those requirements after the fact. While Quebec City officials insist the bid process was legal, a lawsuit has been filed challenging the legaility of the bid process — a lawsuit this bill addresses. Having some uncertainly over arena funding isn’t a good thing as Quebecor officials sit down with the NHL over what’s needed to bring NHL hockey back to Quebec City, so passage of the bill is pretty essential to the future of pro hockey in the city.

Quebecor will put up between $110 and $200 million toward a new $400-million arena; the upfront costs will be split by the city and the province.

RELATED STORIES: Will legal challenges derail Quebec City arena?; New Quebec City arena: pro venue or community resource? 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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