November 5 2009 by Bryson Forbes
With just more than100 days left until the start of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, why are people talking about Quebec City and the Olympics? And why is travel and tourism at the forefront of the discussion?
The issue centres on Quebec City's desire to have a new $400 million arena erected to replace the relic known as Le Colisee. The story has become a national one with two very compelling angles already taking shape. The first is the potential to have NHL hockey back in Quebec City after it left town in 1995. The second buzz surrounds the opportunity to bid for the Olympics yet again (Quebec City was eliminated from the running for the 2010 Winter Olympics) in either 2022 or 2026.
Quebec's timing is very opportunistic with both of these story lines very front-and-centre with Canadians. The hockey angle has been very top-of-mind as Jim Balisle's bid to bring a 7th team to Canada stole the headlines all summer and Olympic excitement really heating up with only three months left until the Games.
It all sounds good, but with a $400 million price tag, who is going to pony up the cash?
Quebec City has reached out to the provincial government for $175 million and asked that the federal government match those funds. Quebec City, the municipality, would fund the remaining $50 million and voila, a state-of-the-art facility ready for action in 2012.
How can the case be built to invest these massive sums?
The answer is travel and tourism. The only way this investment can be justified is if it will create significant incremental tourism dollars over a sustained period of time. While the NHL team and Olympics will undoubtedly raise the awareness of Quebec City as a destination, the new arena needs to be able to generate consistent high traffic events in the form of conferences, entertainment and other marquee activities that drive traffic to the destination.
Many will argue that jobs will be created and offset much of the expense but the benefits of increased tourism will far outweigh the short term construction labour needed to build the arena. Hotels, restaurant, entertainment outlets, retail....every facet of the economy will be positively impacted with more people visiting Quebec City.
As a taxpayer I support the notion! More people deserve to experience all Quebec City has to offer...for those thinking of visiting, might I suggest a lovely Best Western for your stay? The Best Western Hotel L'Aristocrate, with its European charm and award-winning restaurant, is sure to impress!