Despite being passed over in the latest expansion round, a Quebec City NHL team is still considered to be an inevitability by area leaders and fans, who say they’re in line to land a National Hockey League team — but it may take a few years.
The NHL went with a rather unusual decision to go with expansion of a single team (the Las Vegas team should be formally announced this week) instead of two, suggesting that another team could be entering the league down the road. It was widely seen as a snub to Quebec City, which went ahead and worked with Quebecor on the spanking-new Videotron Centre in order to lure the NHL back to Quebec City.
There are still plenty of hurt feelings in Quebec City about the loss of the Nordiques to Denver following the 1994-1995 NHL season; while the market is small, the passions run deep. And while it doesn’t look like there will be another NHL expansion in the near future, the hope runs deep that the city can land a team on the move, much the way Winnipeg landed a team, leading to a revival of the Winnipeg Jets. (Peter Karmanos says there are no plans to move the Carolina Hurricanes to Quebec despite an anemic attendance of 12,203 fans per game last season — worst in the NHL.)
In the short term, the city of Quebec City will be paying arena owner Quebecor $729,167 to cover revenue shortfalls due to fewer attendees at Videotron Centre events. From the Montreal Gazette:
Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume said the city overestimated the number of tickets that it thought would be sold at the new arena and concert hall, but said the absence of an NHL team did not contribute to the loss.
At a press conference, Labeaume said the centre is predicted to sell tickets to 1.1 million people attending about 100 events during its first year. The lease agreement with Québecor calls for the city to cover deficits until the arena can take in $2.5 million in a year.
City hall opposition said the mayor promised the city would only need to spend about $600,000 per year, but it is already on pace to spend $2.2 million.
Image courtesy Videotron Centre.