There is a 10% chance of a National Hockey League team settling in Quebec, “Nordic Minister” Eric Girard estimated Tuesday. He also admitted that he also would have liked to pay less for the Los Angeles Kings to come to Quebec.
The finance minister said there was a “50/50 chance” the NHL would launch an expansion project in the next five years. “There are at least five cities that would be candidates,” added Mr. Girard, naming Atlanta, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, Houston and Quebec. The odds that Quebec will have a franchise are therefore 10%, the economist concluded.
Mr. Girard has also said that he takes note of the “severe criticism” and the “very negative reaction” to the granting of a subsidy of 5 to 7 million for the arrival of the Kings in the National Capital. “Where the criticism is legitimate and solid is at the cost level,” he added. “Yes, I would have liked it to cost two million less, certainly. There was this offer on the table. We tried to negotiate and then it was this or nothing. So I take responsibility and listen to the criticism”, he said.
The subsidy awarded by Quebec will be used, among other things, to pay for travel, accommodation and meals for the teams that will be brought onto the ice at the Videotron Centre, the minister has confirmed. The millions must also cover the deficit of Gestev, which organizes the event at the request of the government. The funds will also be used to compensate for “lost revenue” from the Bruins and Panthers, who would have hosted the Kings had they not come to Quebec.
Faced with criticism, the minister clarified that there was no doubt that the government would renounce its economic commitment, as demanded by the opposition parties. The minister even intends to do it again. “Ideally, we would have other major league events,” he said. He said he hopes to host the Women’s World Championship in 2029, the World Junior Hockey Championship in 2027 and added that the Montreal Canadiens “are welcome, if they want to play regular season games (in Quebec) on 2025”.
not “bad time”
The minister rejected the criticism of his CAQ colleagues, who attacked the “ timing » of your announcement.
“I’m avoiding the question of timing, because I think it should be said that, in a year, (the hockey teams) will be here, because we have to sell tickets”, he said. The Kings deal was reached in September, and it was done by a very small group of people, Mr. Girard. The elect wanted to avoid a leak, like the one that derailed, in 2022, a project intended to host senators in Quebec.
The truth is that the project went through the Council of Ministers, as a decree was needed to confirm the mechanics of the subsidy, taken from the National Capital Region Fund (FRCN). The use of this fund, the management of which has been transferred for years to the city of Quebec and the MRCs, requires the establishment of a call for projects, and these projects must meet a series of criteria.
“The professionals of the Quebec government drafted the contract. We have a resolution from the Finance Council, a resolution from the Council of Ministers”, the minister assured, to attest to the validity of the process. Quebec Solidaire officially requested on Monday the Quebec’s auditor general, Guylaine Leclerc, to investigate the process of awarding the grant to Gestev. The Parti Québécois and the Conservative Party supported Quebec’s solidarity approach. The Liberal Party considers this superfluous, but he does not temper his attacks on this “very bad decision”.
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