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Federal cash could put CFL team in Quebec City

 

RHEAL SEGUIN

Globe and Mail Update

September 3, 2008 at 3:31 PM EDT

 

The federal government will announce today a multimillion dollar infrastructure program for Quebec that could pave the way for a Canadian Football league franchise in Quebec City.

 

The federal funding includes the expansion and renovation of Quebec City's Laval University sports centre where local investors are offering to expand the football stadium in their bid for a CFL franchise.

 

According to prominent Quebec City lawyer Marc Bellemare, local investors have already set aside half of the $40-million needed to expand the stadium with the other half expected to come from other potential investors once the project is approved.

However the head of Laval University Denis Brière has been reluctant in giving his full support to the stadium's expansion for a CFL franchise.

 

“It would be irresponsible to say no to the expansion of the football stadium.,” Mr. Bellemare said on behalf of the anonymous investors in an interview on Tuesday. “The investors need to settle the situation involving the stadium. And then we can move and show the rest of Canada that Quebec City is truly a city capable of attracting a CFL franchise.”

 

According to a marketing conducted on behalf of the investors the marketing firm Impact Recherche, 71 per cent of Quebec City residents support a CFL franchise. The study obtained by the Globe and Mail showed that 43-per cent of the 1001 people polled would be interested in purchasing a season ticket and that 85-per cent believed that Laval University sports centre would be an appropriate location to hold CFL games.

 

The investors worked closely with the Montreal Alouettes in preparing their project for a CFL franchise. Alouette's president Larry Smitth said in a recent local radio interview he embraced Quebec City as a potential CFL franchise location saying it would create a healthy rivalry between the two city that would boost interest for the league throughout Quebec. According to Mr. Bellemare, CFL director general Michael Copeland also indicated to him that Quebec City would be an ideal location for the league's proposed expansion project.

 

Quebec City has one of the most popular university football teams where the Laval University Rouge et Or has attracted as many as 19,000 people to local games in a stadium that only has slightly more than 10,000 seats. The marketing study showed that the attraction of CFL franchise in the city would not have a negative impact on the popularity of local university foot ball games.

 

“The university hold four local games per season. Most of the CFL local games could be scheduled in July and August and would no compete with the university games,” Mr. Bellemare said. “Now it's up to the government to urge the university to change their plans for a new sports centre to allow for the stadium's expansion.

 

Laval University's current $85-million sports centre proposal includes the construction of an indoor soccer field on empty land next to the current football stadium. The city has announced it will inject $10-million in the project with the other $75-million coming from equal contributions from Ottawa and the province.

 

The investors have proposed that the university modify the plan in order to move the soccer stadium further east and use the empty field for the expansion of the football field.

 

Today federal Minister of Transport, Infrastruture and Communities Lawrence cannon will confirm Ottawa's contribution to the university's sport centre proposal. Mr. Cannon as well as Quebec Finance Minister Monique Jérôme-Forget are expected to respond to investors' proposal for changes to the University's plan that could pave the way for a CFL franchise in the city.

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