RALEIGH, N.C. – NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said he’s “aware of what’s going on” in the contentious Quebec City arena debate and repeated the league’s stance that it has no current plans to expand or relocate.
“Everybody involved in the arena project understands that,” Bettman said Friday.
The Canadian government announced Thursday it will give Quebec City Mayor Regis Labeaume time to raise more private-sector funding before it considers a federal role in the project, which would likely cost about $400 million.
The arena issue has roused passions across the country and could flare up again if there is a federal election this year. Voters in several cities want new or improved sports buildings while many taxpayers would be angered if funds would be used to build arenas for non-existent NHL teams.
Bettman said he’s concerned fan expectations are built too high in Canadian markets without NHL clubs.
“When there’s all this speculation—most of which isn’t based on anything—I get concerned because I don’t want our fans to be let on,” Bettman said. “As I said, we’re not planning to expand, we’re not planning to relocate.
“If something were to change, I’ve been on record as saying we’d be silly not to take a good hard look at places we’ve been if situations have changed since we were last there.”
The arena debate was revived this week when the Quebecor media empire, which wants to bring a team back to Quebec, announced it will put some of its own money in the project.
“We don’t get involved in the creation of a building in Quebec City or anywhere else,” Bettman said. “Because we tell people who are building buildings, don’t build it with the expectation you’re going to have a team because we’re not going to make you that promise.”
The Quebec Nordiques moved to Colorado in 1995.