“It’s an active file,” assures Julie Dionne, director of sports activities at Laval University, regarding the First Canadian Football League (PLC) expansion team’s project in Quebec, during a telephone conversation with the newspaper.
Why are we including this large Quebec company in this discussion? This is because the arrival of the team in the Capitale-Nationale region will most likely have to include renting the Telus Rouge et Or stadium for several years … until a place dedicated to football is built, ‘around 5,000 to 6,000 seats .
Julie Dionne, therefore, says she has been in contact with “several groups” of investors who wanted to get a professional team. “And when I say a few, it’s more than two,” she adds.
“It has been several years since I have been contacted by potential groups that would like to have a PLC franchise. »
He specifies that “nothing has materialized” yet, but he knows that “there are active groups that want to come and settle in Quebec.”
Mark Noonan, PLC commissioner, said in September that his league had “current momentum in Quebec,” according to comments collected by the Journal Law. Note that Noonan also mentioned Laval and Trois-Rivières as potential cities for possible expansion in the province.
“But the PLC club could not develop permanently at Laval University,” the commissioner said. This should be a short-term solution. We will not approve a club in Quebec without a stadium project attached to it. »
And what does Quebec City think?
“We are open,” he explains the newspaper elected official responsible for sports in Quebec City, Jean-François Gosselin. We are in cooperation mode. We hope that it will come true. »
He points out that before there were four interested groups. Today, “a group, maybe two”, is still in the race. He cannot name them because he is “not authorized” to do so. On the other hand, he indicates that one of the groups would have “European investors”, but there are no further details on this topic.
“We see that it is really serious,” says Jean-François Gosselin. We see that things are progressing. We see that there is credibility of the League. »
“We are convinced that the PLC team would work in Quebec. »
Telus Stadium starting?
Let’s take a step back.
In 2021, a committee was established to assess the feasibility of the project and gauge the level of interest from the Quebec market. It is made up of several players from the Quebec soccer community, including former Soccer Quebec President and CEO Pierre Marchand and Mathieu Chamberland, Quebec Regional Soccer Association (ARS Quebec) CEO Philippe Bernard, as well as former Montreal Impact Executive Vice President Richard Legendre.
All the conclusions of their market study, revealed in October 2022, were very favorable for the arrival of a professional PLC team.
Since then, Richard Legendre’s term on the board ended, Marchand and Chamberland have alternated accepting positions at Canada Soccer 2023, and progress on the project appears to be slowing, at least publicly.
But for Philippe Bernard, the results of the report and the steps taken can still be useful.
“We had meetings with the mayor of Quebec City” about the potential construction of a soccer stadium, explains the executive director of ARS Quebec. Which was confirmed by Jean-François Gosselin.
“We talked about different potential locations,” continues Bernard. We have come to a certain conclusion. There are pages that, unfortunately, the City could not unblock for various reasons. »
During his interviews, it became abundantly clear that one place stood out from the rest: the “Laval University sector”.
“After looking at the available land, what was possible to do in terms of the City, public transportation, accessibility, customers, I would tell you that the number one place, for everyone we talked to, is enough from Laval University. »
But with Telus Stadium, “there is no sustainability” in the medium to long term, he said.
The current fenced site of the Rouge et Or, with its athletics tracks, “is too big to create a football atmosphere”, believes Bernard. He knows something about it: ARS Québec trains and plays on the field of Laval University.
But Julie Dionne has a shade.
“Athletic tracks are a problem in terms of atmosphere and distance,” he agrees. But it’s still a very nice stadium. (…) In football we have the same thing, we are less close to the game, but we need an athletic track. So that’s part of the game. »
He also notes that three current PLC teams play in soccer stadiums, namely Winnipeg, Hamilton and Ottawa.
What Julie Dionne is discussing with interested groups — groups she also won’t name — is whether Telus Stadium could actually become the first home for the new PLC team.
“The fact is that we have to do a market study. Our facilities are already in use. We have to see if these are things that can coexist. The city, if I’m not mistaken, paints the same picture of the situation. »