Le Colisee Wasn’t Big Enough. And It Wasn’t About To Get Bigger

colisee

If you’ve ever wondered why such a hockey-mad city and area like Quebec City lost their NHL franchise, Les Nordiques,  and moved to Colorado in 1995, this might answer a few questions. Passion for the sport is one thing. Dollars and cents and a new building the fans didn’t want is another. nords

A 1994 survey published in the Quebec newspaper Le Soleil prior to the franchise relocating to Colorado showed that 78% of the population of Quebec City was against the construction of a new Colisee, which was crucial if the team would survive and stay successful. I should say it again – 78%. No one wanted it. And when analysts looked into it, the reason the locals didn’t want a new building was because the NHL was going through a lengthy 104 day work stoppage at that time and they didn’t feel comfortable.

Nordique president Marcel Aubut wanted a building with a least 19,000 seats. The existing Colisee only housed just over 15,000 seats. And Aubut wanted to add corporate boxes and all the nice stuff other new state-of-the-art rinks were doing.

The whole cost would have been $110 million, which is chump change compared to today’s figures.

And surprisingly enough, fans didn’t even think the Government should throw in much. Only 15% thought the different levels of government should finance the whole project, and only one in four thought the government should pay about a quarter of the project and not more. Sixteen per cent thought the government should pay half, three per cent said the feds should pay three quarters, and another three per cent thought the project should be fully funded by the government.

So, as nice as it was to have the Nordiques in the league, especially with that great Habs-Nordiques rivalry that had grown into legendary status, it was obvious that fans in Quebec just weren’t quite as passionate about having a team as we thought.

I wonder how this compares to the Winnipeg situation.

4 thoughts on “Le Colisee Wasn’t Big Enough. And It Wasn’t About To Get Bigger”

  1. I lived in Québec City at the time, and you are absolutely right. I would add that it ran deeper than the strike: the recent addition of US teams, the game in phoenix (against the habs!!!), the sharp increase in salaries and Marcel Aubut betting the house on a salary cap… People saw, correctly I think, the writing on the wall. They loved, loved the team, but saw that the business was veering away from them, with the ownership group under tremendous pressure to sell.

    Add to that the mounting deficit and a generally meek regional economy, and you have all the ingredients.

    Make the same poll today, and the results will most probably be quite different. We’ll see.

  2. Quebec residents knew that no matter what they did Les Nordiques would be leaving soon enough. They didn’t want to waste their money after watching the city of Hamilton build (at the time) state of the art Copps Coliseum and have the best expansion proposal passed over. They were the among the first to realize that the NHL only cared about potential growth in the southern US and not about actual fans in Canada.

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