SBD/September 7, 2011/Facilities

Quebec City, Quebecor Agree To Conditional Deal For NHL Arena

Quebec City's municipal council "approved a six-part agreement Tuesday between the city and Quebecor Media Inc., handing the Montreal media conglomerate the keys to a proposed" NHL arena, according to Kevin Dougherty of the Montreal GAZETTE. With the 25-year deal, renewable for 15 years, the city hopes to "draw an NHL team to replace the Nordiques," who left Quebec City for Denver in '95. The six contracts between the city, Quebecor and its subsidiaries "specify that they are conditional on the adoption of Bill 204 by the National Assembly." Bill 204 would "retroactively confirm the legality of the city's arrangement with Quebecor, negotiated directly with the media giant rather than through public tenders" (Montreal GAZETTE, 9/7). The GLOBE & MAIL's Sean Gordon reports Quebecor over the life of the deal will pay between C$110-200M "in rent, profit-sharing and naming rights." The company in return "will have exclusive rights to stage concert events and hockey, and to make its own arrangements for ancillary revenues like concessions and beer sales." Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume said that the "final contract is even more beneficial for taxpayers than the agreement-in-principle the parties hammered out last March." The deal "contains a provision that allows the city to scrutinize Quebecor's financial receipts as they pertain to the building, and some beefed-up clauses to keep the future NHL team in the building for the duration of the lease." Labeaume said, "If Quebecor, and this is a hypothesis I don't believe in, were to obtain a National Hockey League team and sell it or move it in 10 years, they will still have to pay rent for 15 years. And that's important to retain the club. It's an incentive not to leave." Gordon notes Quebecor "also won a concession in the final negotiations: If the company is unsuccessful in obtaining an NHL franchise, it will pay a lower price for the naming rights -- which could top out around [C]$64-million -- to the proposed 18,000-seat building" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/7).
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