Subsidizing the Los Angeles Kings, what a terrible idea

The Legault government stands for to give a grant of 5 to 7 million dollars allow the Los Angeles Kings to play two preseason games in Quebec in October 2024. Dominique Ollivier is the one who has to be happy.

Just as the former chairman of the executive committee of the city of Montreal became a symbol of bad management of public fundsFinance Minister Éric Girard found a way to push things a little further on Tuesday by announcing the awarding of this surreal subsidy.

That said, before I elaborate on the endorsement from the Los Angeles Kings, let me provide a little context by telling you about the Quebec Pee-Wee Tournament.

The Pee-wee tournament is a true sporting institution, not only for the capital, but for all of Quebec. As proof, the event has just been accepted into the Panthéon des sports du Québec. This competition enjoys an extremely enviable reputation on the international scene. It is undoubtedly the most famous ice hockey tournament in the world.

Each year, the Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament attracts approximately 200,000 spectators and generates approximately 23,000 hotel nights in the Quebec region. Studies that the organizing committee is required to commission every third year show economic benefits of HRK 14.4 million for the region.

In short, the Quebec Pee-Wee Tournament generates exceptional tourism revenue. It is worth its weight in gold for the Quebec region. Given this extraordinary contribution, how much subsidy do you think the organizers receive from the Quebec government? About $250,000 a year.

Luc Robitaille, President of the Los Angeles Kings (2nd from left) flanked by Martin Tremblay (left), Gestev, Éric Girard, Minister of Finance of Quebec and Jonathan Julien (right), Minister responsible for the Capital Region

Photo: Radio-Canada

Knowing this, how can Minister Girard justify paying 5 to 7 million NHL teams to hold four days of training camp and two preseason games in Quebec?

Agreed, no one overseas is going to plan their 2024 vacation to coincide with preseason games between the Los Angeles Kings, Boston Bruins, and Florida Panthers. And even less at the beginning of October!

And since these games will attract almost all local hockey fans, they will not create tourism or economic benefits. This subsidy is therefore equivalent to throwing 5 to 7 million out of the window.

At the press conference, Minister Girard explained that he estimates the costs related to the presence of the Kings between 9 and 10 million dollars. Consequently, the minister says that he is in favor of covering the surplus between expenses and income that will be generated by the two pre-season games of the Kings. These matches will be organized by the Quebecor subsidiary.

In other words, the Quebec finance minister believes it’s a good idea to spend between 5 and 7 million of public funds to support two non-events that will cost 9 or 10 million to organize and will generate revenues of only 3 to 5 million.

We think we are dreaming.

And what will be the costs for which taxpayers’ money will be used?

Obviously, we are talking about the costs of transportation and accommodation of Kraljevo.

In addition, the California team will receive a generous financial compensation to offset the box office revenue it would have earned if these preseason games were shown at its home in Los Angeles, which will be renovated next fall. Right there, we are talking about 5 million US dollars.

The Bruins and Panthers are also expected to be eligible for financial compensation for the trip to Quebec. The Panthers, who draw very few spectators even in the regular season, participated in a Kraft Hockeyville rivalry game in Nova Scotia last training camp. They were there because it was more profitable for them to play in Sydney than in their amphitheater.

Two men in jackets and ties sit at a table with microphones.

Los Angeles Kings President Luc Robitaille and Quebec Finance Minister Éric Girard.

Photo: The Canadian Press / Jacques Boissinot

The Minister of Finance quite seriously compared the subsidies that finance the visiting of the Kings with the subsidies that are paid to the Grand Prix of Canada or the presentation of the Presidents Cup (a prestigious international team golf tournament that will be held at the Royal Montreal club). 2024).

Readers of this column know that I am against any subsidies to professional sports organizations, whether for the construction of stadiums, amphitheaters or any other reason. Citizens never come out on top.

Nevertheless, it is easy to understand that the minister is greatly discredited by comparing the biggest tourist event in Canada (the Grand Prix) to a four-day visit by the Los Angeles Kings.

He looks like a guy proudly waving his bladder as he leaves a luxury lantern shop.

Minister Girard also tried to justify this indefensible subsidy (carried out without analyzing the economic benefits) by claiming that the Videotron Center exceptional infrastructure and that he is it is important to show it and use it .

When you know the history of the Videotron Center, it’s hard not to be impressed.

The construction of the Videotron Center has already cost Quebecers 370 million. And since it opened, Quebec City taxpayers have spent several million to cover some of the operating deficits posted by the Quebecor subsidiary that manages the amphitheater.

If we also have to start subsidizing the loss of the presentation of pointless hockey games in that same amphitheatre, Quebec taxpayers are not crazy.

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