November 12, 2008 :: 1:53pm ET
Real-Time Journal:
Quebec City working towards new arena
By David Pagnotta

[Toronto, ON] -- I've been saying for some time that bringing another team to Ontario is a move the NHL will have to make. Nobody will deny the fact that a market like Southern Ontario can support another NHL franchise. It's quite clear, given the population and the amount of hockey nuts in the area, that a new team could do very well.

If you've followed my preaching, you'll already know that I'm a big fan of bringing a team to the city of Kitchener. With 2.5 million page within a 30-minute drive, it's the best option. A new owner wouldn't have to pay any fees to the Toronto Maple Leafs or the Buffalo Sabres, as this location would be out of those territories. I've never been a real supporter of bringing a team to Hamilton, even though it might be more recognizable to the average U.S. fan than Kitchener.

And while I firmly believe that another team will end up in Southern Ontario soon enough, there are other options North of the border.

Winnipeg always seems to get overlooked. And unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be an ownership group that has stepped up in an attempt to bring an NHL team back to Manitoba.

Joe SakicThe only other option would be Quebec City.

Winnipeg and Quebec lost their teams back in the 90s. The fans were, and still are, there.

Like Winnipeg, fans in Quebec have been petitioning to bring another team to their city. QuebecLNH.com lists over 80,000 signatures of people hoping to see the Nordiques back in town.

Would that option make sense? Of course it would. The Quebec City market is filled with passionate hockey fans. They're still crushed over having to watch their team play in Colorado. The rivalry between the Montreal Canadiens and the Nordiques was unlike any other.

They want their team back, and guess what... they appear to be taking the steps to getting out. Or, fighting for one, at least.

Over the last three years, various investors have been trying to build a new sports complex just outside of Quebec City, in Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures. The "Centre Nordik" would house an 18,000-20,000 seat arena, a soccer stadium, a hotel, a children's pavilion, and various office buildings.

According to La Presse Canadienne, it now appears European investors are willing to spend $200 million on a new facility, if the Quebec government is willing to chip in close to $50 million. Quebec premier Jean Charest recently said that an investment of $50 million was a realistic option.

With the right facility in place, which could have an overall value of $325 million, Quebec might finally have a sound argument for a potential investor willing to bring an NHL team back to the northern part of the province.

For the time being, the NHL says its intensions are to stick with its current core. It has no plans to expand, which given the current economic state is a good thing. Relocation isn't on the agenda either, and that's when many people start to become concerned.

Florida and Atlanta are drawing horrible crowds, and moving those teams to new, fresh and better markets could only help the league.

NHL executives will argue that they gave cities like Buffalo the opportunities to stick through the rough patches and reclaim their stability in the league. That's great. The team got better, and that might have something to do with the fact that they avoided bankruptcy and turned around. Want to know the other factor? Buffalo's filled with hockey fans. Florida and Atlanta aren't.

Many people are starting to get annoyed at the same old saying; it's time for the NHL to admit its mistakes and move on.

Well, it's true. They have Florida a shot, and they never got with the program. Miami isn't a sports town. Unless you're the Dolphins, nobody really cares. Heck, when the Heat and Marlins stink, nobody gives them the time of day either. It's the overall market. Nobody is going to scream at Gary Bettman for trying to keep a team in South Florida, but enough is enough and it's time to move on. There are tones of hockey fans in Tampa, so 1 out of 2 in the same State ain't bad.

For now, it's looking like Kansas City and Southern Ontario are next on the list for a team. KC has the arena, Kitchener has the money (I'm looking at you, Jim) and fans. Las Vegas is definitely another option, with Winnipeg and Quebec in the background.

With the right money, group and facilities, it's not hard to believe we'll see another Nordiques team in the net 5-10 years. It's going to take some time, but they're finally on the right track. And quite frankly, I hope they get their wish.

David Pagnotta is the Editor-in-Chief of The Fourth Period Magazine and covers the Toronto Maple Leafs and the NHL for TheFourthPeriod.com. He is also a contributing writer for NBCSports.com and MSNBC.

  Archives:
  Oct. 21, 2008 Another team in TO? Interesting!
  Sept. 23, 2008 Winnipeg remains a viable option


 


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