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Quebec to spend up to $7 million for L.A. Kings 2024 pre-season games in Quebec City

QUEBEC — The Quebec government says it will spend between $5 million and $7 million to have the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings spend the final part of their 2024 training camp in Quebec City and play two pre-season games in the provincial capital next year.

Finance Minister Eric Girard made the announcement Tuesday at the Videotron Centre in Quebec City, and in response to repeated questions about the amount of public money going into the project, said the subsidy is in line with most government contributions for local sporting events.

“There will be a celebration of hockey,” Girard said, adding that the subsidy roughly equals what the province will give to the Presidents Cup — a golf tournament that will be held in Montreal in 2024 — and the annual Canadian Grand Prix, also in Montreal. “The government is often involved in cultural and sports events.”

The Quebec government has agreed to cover expenses in excess of the revenue generated by the Kings event, which is to help raise Quebec City’s profile as a hockey town and its arena — the Videotron Centre — as a venue for professional sports in North America. Girard estimated that the training camp and games would cost the province at least $5 million.

“At the Videotron Centre we have an exceptional infrastructure and I think it is important to show it off and use it for major events,” Girard said.

The Kings, who will train in Quebec City from Oct. 2-6, will face the Boston Bruins in their first pre-season game on Oct. 3 before taking on the Florida Panthers two days later. They will also hold some open practices.

The Kings roster includes Quebecers Philip Danault, of Victoriaville, Que., and Pierre-Luc Dubois, from Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, Que.

The last time Videotron Centre hosted an NHL pre-season game was Sept. 20, 2018, when the Montreal Canadiens faced off against the Washington Capitals.

The 18,000-seat arena opened in 2015 in hopes of attracting an NHL franchise; it was built for $370 million, jointly paid for by Quebec City and the provincial government. 

Quebec City has attempted to lure a National Hockey League team back to the market since then, but has been unsuccessful. Currently, the building is home to the Quebec Remparts, of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

The Quebec Nordiques, the city’s former NHL team, moved to Denver in 1995 and became the Colorado Avalanche, winning the Stanley Cup in their inaugural season.

Ticket prices for the Kings games in the city will run between $55 and $170.

Meanwhile, the size of the subsidy drew criticism from opposition parties at the legislature, who said the money was misplaced at a time of high inflation and as public sector unions are striking for higher salaries.

Québec solidaire’s house leader, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, said the government was helping the NHL rather than Quebecers struggling with inflation and workers fighting to maintain their purchasing power. 

“The CAQ says it lacks money for public sector workers, but it gives up to $7 million to National Hockey League millionaires,” Nadeau-Dubois said in a statement. “Quebecers really like hockey, but they would also like to have a government with a sense of priorities.”

Liberal member Gregory Kelley said food banks are asking for $8 million while the government is ready to give $7 million to the NHL.

“Thousands of Quebecers are hungry,” Kelly wrote on the X platform, formerly known as Twitter. “That’s more important than two hockey games.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 14, 2023.

The Canadian Press