Canada's weak dollar threatens to put Quebec's NHL bid on ice

Fri Feb 5, 2016 1:09am EST
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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar's recent fall threatens Quebecor Inc's (QBRb.TO: Quote) bid to bring back Quebec City's beloved National Hockey League franchise, the Nordiques, by increasing costs.

Montreal-based Quebecor, a telecommunications and media company, submitted its bid in July, vying with Las Vegas for a team that may start play in 2017.

When Quebecor struck a deal in 2011 to manage Quebec City's new 18,259-seat Videotron Arena as it began talks with the NHL about a franchise, the Canadian dollar was trading at a slight premium to its American counterpart.

The currency has since been hit hard by falling energy and commodity prices. With the Canadian dollar now worth about 73 U.S. cents after touching a 12-year low of 68 cents in January, the NHL's franchise fee of at least $500 million is now at C$685 million.

"Passion can only take you so far," said Glen Hodgson, chief economist of the Conference Board of Canada and co-author of a book on the business of professional sports in Canada.

"Quebecor is going to have to think really hard before shelling out that much money because it could be really hard to show a return on your investment."

Quebecor declined a request for comment on its NHL bid.

Quebec City lost its beloved Nordiques to Denver in 1995, partly because a sagging Canadian dollar boosted costs in a league dominated by U.S.-based teams.   Continued...