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Quebec Premier François Legault defends decision to subsidize NHL pre-season games

RIVIERE-AU-RENARD, Que. — Quebec’s premier is defending his government’s decision to spend up to $7 million to bring the Los Angeles Kings to Quebec City for two NHL pre-season games next year.

François Legault told a Friday news conference it is important for the province to invest in leisure activities and pointed to hockey’s popularity in Quebec City.

He also said he hopes the pre-season matches showcase the arena at Quebec City’s Videotron Centre and inspire the NHL to install a franchise in the provincial capital.

The decision to spend between $5 million and $7 million on the venture continues to draw criticism from opposition parties, who say it’s a poor use of public funds, especially amid stalled talks with public sector unions demanding higher pay.

Legault said Friday the up to $7 million subsidy pales in comparison to the $3.7 billion it would take to meet the unions’ demands.

The Montreal Canadiens’ assertion that the team would have played in Quebec City for free has further stirred debate.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2023.

The Canadian Press