By Rhonda Massad
With files from Robert Frank
After six years of political turmoil and soaring costs, the long-awaited groundbreaking ceremony for Place Bell at the corner of de la Concorde and le Corbusier boulevards took place on Nov. 25.
On hand for the ground breaking were Laval Mayor Marc Demers and several members of city council, Quebec’s Minister for Laval Francine Charbonneau, MNAs Jean Rousselle and Marcel Alexander, Canadiens Centre Bell and Evenko CEO Geoff Molson, Pomerleau president Pierre Pomerleau and many representatives from the sports and business communities.
Whither les Canadiens?
“There will be a minor league hockey team based there,” David de Cotis told The Suburban.
“Geoff Molson has guaranteed that a professional hockey team will occupy the amphitheatre,” declared the vice-chairman of Laval’s executive committee. “The only two professional teams that he owns are the Montreal Canadiens and the Hamilton Bulldogs.”
“It will be one of the two,” quipped de Cotis. “He has indirectly promised that the Canadiens will at least be playing some exhibition games at Place Bell, which is slated to open in April 2017.”
The sport and culture complex will house three ice rinks that meet NHL and international standards. Laval sees the facility as a magnet to host speed skating, track, figure-skating and other competitions here.
“Unlike other sports stadia, it will include an ice arena and amphitheatre that can house 10,000 people, an Olympic-size ice rink for 2,500 spectators, as well as a 500-seat community rink,” de Cotis declared. “That will attract teams from other cities in Quebec and other provinces to Laval to play in hockey tournaments.”
The building will also contain 46 corporate spectator boxes. There will be a gymnasium, a sports medicine centre, a sports equipment store, office suites, food and drink concessions and interior parking.
Who will pay for it?
The original price projection for the multifunctional complex, in 2005, was $120 million.
As reported in The Suburban, Pomerleau ultimately won final, $200 million construction contract. The City of Laval’s share is $42 million, with another $32 million to come from Bell Canada, which owns the naming rights, and Evenko.
Quebec has committed to contribute $46.3 million to the project. The provincial government based its subsidy on the original amount of $120 million estimate and has refused to budge since the amount was subsequently revised radically upward.
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