As the NHL heads into another lockout, it is becoming more and more apparent that certain teams are losing money and won't be able to remain in their current homes for much longer. After last season's relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg and the enormous financial gains that followed, fans on both sides of the border must realize that there is money to be made in Canadian markets even if they have a smaller population base than their U.S. competitors. Enter Quebec City.
Formerly home of the Nordiques - they lost their team in 1995 due to a weak Canadian dollar and a new NHL Southern expansion strategy - Quebec City announced recently that they would be constructing a new NHL-sized arena near the dated Coliseé Pepsi. Although Quebec's municipal government claims that the arena is for concerts and their upcoming winter Olympic bid, it is the hockey world's worst kept secret that the city is pushing hard for an NHL franchise. The city's metropolitan area is the same size as Winnipeg's and there is a very strong tourism sector surrounding the old walled city and the stunning natural surroundings.
Quebec's $400 million new arena will seat 18,000, and is based on Pittsburgh's CONSOL Energy Center. French-Canadian media giant Quebecor will have naming rights as well as a large, exclusive studio for their sports channels. Few specific details pertaining to concessions, seating, or other specific details have emerged yet but stadium designers Populous have released external renderings as well as a video.
Support for the Nordiques has been very strong and fans have visited other teams' arenas decked out in Nordiques uniforms from the past. They have also staged massive rallies on Quebec's historic Plains of Abraham, where the British defeated the French hundreds of years ago. All signs point to Quebec as being the next hockey hotbed in the NHL. It is hard to deny that Quebec is a great market for the fastest game on ice. And with a brand new arena in place by 2015, NHL fans should be ready to experience the unique French flair and intense passion fans in Quebec can provide.