SBD/September 9, 2010/Facilities And Venues

Canadian Government Shows Support For C$400M Quebec City Arena

Conservative Canadian Parliament members and Quebec ministers yesterday "donned vintage Nordiques sweaters in a show of support" for a proposed C$400M arena in Quebec City that depends on the federal government for "nearly half of its funding," according to Daniel Leblanc of the GLOBE & MAIL. The Conservatives "appeared open to the proposal" yesterday, "one day after the provincial government agreed to pay" 45% of the costs. Quebec City Mayor Regis Labeaume "has made the project his No. 1 priority and is working hard to get matching funds from Ottawa." But Canada Veterans Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn "pointed out it would be easier to obtain federal funding if there was a private-sector company involved, for example, in purchasing naming rights to the new arena." Blackburn: "It's clear that it can't just be state money. There needs to be partners" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/9). The CP's Sidhartha Banerjee noted the "make-or-break player appears to be" the Canadian federal government, "now that the provincial and municipal governments have already committed to funding most of the arena." Arena "detractors warn that it should steer clear of committing an estimated" C$180M in public money "to a project that benefits private enterprise" (CP, 9/8).

AGAINST TAXPAYER SUPPORT: A Montreal GAZETTE editorial states the Quebec provincial government's promise of C$175M this week to help build the arena "seems like mere pocket change." From "any common-sense point of view, however, such as the taxpayers' viewpoint, that promise appears surreal, not to say insane." The editorial: "We believe there is no real chance for this to happen, fortunately, because both financially and politically the federal government can't afford to pitch in. ... Why taxpayers should support such a thing is beyond us" (Montreal GAZETTE, 9/9).

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