In case you missed it, Markham city council approved a framework on Thursday for a new 20,000 seat arena north of the 407 between Warden and Kennedy—with half of the $325-million price tag being paid by the city, ie taxpayers. It seems that following the move of the Atlanta Thrashers to a ready-to-go rink in Winnipeg, other Canadian cities are hoping to lure struggling NHL franchises back to the Promised Land. Case in point: Quebec City.
Make no mistake, like the Quebecor-sponsored structure in la belle province, the one north of Toronto isn’t intended just for concerts. “Spending that kind of money just for culture and entertainment? Come on. We won’t even break even,” one councilor told the National Post. But can one city, albeit the biggest in the country, support two NHL teams? Let’s ask New York, where the first-place Rangers pack ‘em in to the Gardens, while the suburban Islanders draw a mere 13-thousand fans a game, just one spot ahead of Phoenix for fewest in the league. The struggling Isles have long been rumoured for relocation, heck, their rink was invaded by Nordiques Nation in 2010. But could they be heading from New York to North York?
Not so fast. After all, this is Leafs Country. Some people say TML played a part in squashing those Hamilton relocation rumours of a while back—and the Yotes are still in Phoenix (and in the second round of the playoffs, no less!). Something tells me they won’t take too kindly to a new intruder on their turf, especially one so close to the city. Cuz let’s face it, you’re not getting 20,000 Markham residents out to 41 games a season—even if they helped pay for the building.
Mind you, if the Markham Islanders (that name has gotta change!) make it to the postseason before the Blue-and-White, I could see myself cheering for them if the Flames are eliminated. Don’t get me started on the Flames, though…