It's not an outrageous price, probably worth it, but it's a figure that can be knocked down to almost zero with a little creativity and entrepreneurship.
That sum assumes that the entire cost of the arena will be mortgaged and no direct government subsidy be involved in the construction. It also assumes that the building would generate revenues solely by renting itself out for NHL hockey, concerts, shows etc. etc.
But if the building operated as a business instead of a venue, it could easily boost revenues and seriously cut into that figure, quite possibly breaking even or making a profit.
In this regard I can't think of anyone better suited to own and operate the Nordiques and the arena than Loto-Quebec...
The Quebec casino and lottery agency is a natural fit.
Folding the Nordiques and the arena into it's operations would provide the team a vast marketing juggernaut and most importantly, financial stability. Unlike a 'private' owner, making a large profit is not necessary, a goal of break-even for the publicly owned corporation would be perfectly satisfactory.
It would be up to the Loto-Quebec to assume the mortgage and operations of the building and it would be their responsibility to 'find' this $20-$25 million in additional revenue required to make the project break even.
This can be accomplished through team operations and other revenue devices, most likely, a mini casino, to be added to the Colisee.
Gary Bettman has already given his blessing to casino gambling associating with an NHL franchise. The Pittsburgh Penguins have opted for this route in the partial financing of it's new arena, Consul Energy Center. The Penguins have licensed those rights for a $7.5 million yearly payment.
"Although professional sports generally try to avoid any association with gambling, the NHL has given its blessing for the Penguins to pursue a slots license. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said that league would have no problem with a team owning and operating a parlor, even if it were part of the arena."LINKNow you might say that casino profits are just another form of tax, but at least it's a voluntary tax, one that is assumed by those wishing to gamble. I myself never go to the Montreal casino, it's too cumbersome to get there and I'm not a big gambler to begin with. That being said, if the casino was located in the Bell Centre, I certainly would be enticed to go to the game early or stay late, to complete an evening out.
Additionally, Loto-Quebec can promote the Nordiques through ticket give-aways that would replace some cash prizes.
Win a set of season tickets, a night in a loge for you and your friends, thousands of tickets instead of cash prizes etc.etc. Like I said, Loto-Quebec is a marketing juggernaut.
Arguably, all this is just a shifting of disposable income, but unlike a restaurant meal or a movie, there is a side benefit to a lot of fans who will enjoy having a team without actually paying for it directly it.
The major other aspect to financing the arena is of course, ownership of the NHL franchise, the Quebec Nordiques.
Although the Nordiques can't compete with the Montreal Canadiens who spin off an estimated $40 million dollars in profit, the Nordiques do have some advantages that even the mighty Canadiens don't.
For one thing the arena wouldn't have to pay municipal taxes which now costs the Canadiens over $7 million a year. This tax forgiveness would be in lieu of the arena forgoing the $50 million promise Mayor Lebaume made to the arena project. Also there's a lot of parking revenue to be made because of the large plot of land that the old Colisée sits on. The Montreal Canadiens don't get any parking revenue at all, due to it's confined downtown location. Combined this would add over $10 million in revenue that the Canadiens don't get.
To top it off, broadcast rights for the Nordiques are worth a fortune, more than the Canadiens and possibly second only in the league to the Toronto Maple Leafs. That's right.
Although Pierre-Karl Péladeau has been playing the reluctant hero, he is absolutely desperate to get his clutches into the Nordiques. Without being overly dramatic, the broadcast rights to the Nordiques represent a key element in the battle of media giants, Videotron and Bell.
Remember Péladeau, has recently launched a wireless service to compete with Bell Wireless and Bell has launched FIBE, a high speed cable service to compete with Videotron cable.
If Péladeau gets the broadcast rights to the Nordiques, the two giants will have to live with each other and broadcast each others products, the Canadiens and the Nordiques, both on Bell and Videotron.
Once the FIBE network is developed and Bell has enough penetration between that and it's satellite service, imagine the damage they could inflict by removing RDS from Videotron.
Ouch! Remember that both giants offer telephone/TV/Internet packages. If the Videotron package doesn't include the Nordiques/Canadiens, it isn't hard to imagine the competitive advantage of Bell.
And so like the auction where two rich buyers try to out-bid each other, I expect the Nordiques to win the second largest broadcast deal in the NHL, making the team highly profitable.
By combining all these revenue streams, it seems to me that the whole arena/Nordiques can be done without direct public financing and Loto-Quebec can probably turn a small profit on the whole affair.
My plan may not be pretty, but it's a plan. At least it's a call for those involved to look for answers outside the taxation route.
French or English, all Canadiens benefit from more Canadian teams in the NHL. It would be wonderful to add Winnipeg and another team in southern Ontario to the fold.
Now this post is non-political, it is about HOCKEY, so no anti-Quebec or anti-Canada comments please.
Can you make my plan better?
The idea is to get Quebec City and more Canadian teams in the NHL. If you are against that notion than post somewhere else.
That being said, fair criticism is always welcomed. Fire away.