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Can Las Vegas Learn From Quebec City's Failed NHL Bid?

By Sportsandentertainment_StephaneGroleau (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons
By Sportsandentertainment_StephaneGroleau (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

Las Vegas won the rights to have an NHL team in June.

One of the other cities that wanted a team?

Quebec City, which hasn't had an NHL team since 1995, when the Nordiques moved to Denver.

The capital of Canada's predominantly French province of Quebec has a brand new arena as well where the team would've played.

But unlike Las Vegas' T-Mobile Arena, Quebec City's Videotron Center was built with public money.

Now that the NHL isn't coming there, what's next?

And does Las Vegas have anything to learn from Quebec City about building a sports stadium with public money before a team is guaranteed to come here?

Ryan Hicks covers politics in Quebec for the CBC. He told KNPR's State of Nevada that Quebec City residents were disappointed that a franchise went to Las Vegas instead. 

Part of the reason Las Vegas got ateam and Quebec City did not was businessman Bill Foley's willingness to pay the massive expansion team fee.

Quebecor, a telecommunications company that supported Quebec City's bid for the NHL team, does not have the finances for the team. 

Hicks said many people are rethinking the use of public money for ventures that private parties are interested in having.

“I think you’re seeing people, at least in contexts where governments have to make cuts and austerity measures, they’re kind of starting to go the other way,” he said. 

The deal to operate the Videotron Center is also a troubling one for many people in Quebec City. The city must pay thousands of dollars for the arena's operational deficit until a team arrives and starts making a profit. 

"That means until an NHL team arrives, local taxpayers are paying Quebecor and are paying for the arena's operational deficit," Hicks said, which he said is like "salt in the wound" for many city residents.

The operational deficit is in addition to the taxes used to pay for the building to begin with. 

The Olympic Stadium in Montreal is a reminder that a project can take years to pay off. It took the people of Montreal and Quebec 30 years to pay off it off, even with professional sports occupying the venue for many years after the 1976 Olympic Games. 

“That is what people are really wondering after this decision by the NHL," Hicks said. "How long is it going to take if an NHL team is going to get here?”

For now, Hicks said the Videotron Center has one distinction -- it's the "most expensive junior hockey arena" in the country. 

Ryan Hicks, local and provincial politics reporter, CBC

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Casey Morell is the coordinating producer of Nevada Public Radio's flagship broadcast State of Nevada and one of the station's midday newscast announcers. (He's also been interviewed by Jimmy Fallon, whatever that's worth.)