AEG Facilities will manage Quebecor's new arena, Videotron Centre, in Quebec City.

Québec City’s Quebecor’s Sports & Entertainment Group announced a strategic partnership with AEG Facilities in which the international sports, entertainment and venue management organization will provide comprehensive venue operations and programming services for Québec City’s new $400-million hockey arena.

“This is a process where we’re putting solid infrastructure in place,” said Benoît Robert, president and CEO of Quebecor’s Sports & Entertainment Group. “AEG supported the arena’s design at the onset, so to me it was a natural progression.”

Quebecor’s Sports & Entertainment Group had retained the consulting services of AEG Facilities in the preliminary phases of the project.

As part of the agreement, AEG Facilities will provide venue services, including event programming, purchasing, vendor management services and event-day operations to the arena, while AEG Live, AEG’s live entertainment division, will also support Sports & Entertainment Group on booking opportunities to events, shows and tours.

Financial details of the eight-year contract were not disclosed. The 20,000-seat sports and entertainment arena is set to open in September 2015.

“We’ve been supporting this project for several years, and it became apparent over time that this would be one of North America’s most successful projects in the long run,” said Bob Newman, president of AEG Facilities. “This is a market that has a true passion for sports and entertainment, but it has lacked modern facilities.”

The new arena will replace the Colisée Pepsi, built in 1949 and former home to the WHA and NHL Quebec Nordiques from 1972 to 1995.

“What’s exciting to us in this partnership is the resources Quebecor has on the ground in the marketplace with its existing media and sport enterprises,” Newman said. “This is an organization with almost endless resources in sales, marketing and databases that can immediately be activated in support of this new arena, and we’ve tailored the agreement to take advantage of our mutual company strengths.”

Sports & Entertainment Group produces, distributes and promotes cultural and entertainment content, including Québec and international talent. Its divisions include the Québec City Amphitheatre, Armada de Blainville-Boisbriand, Remparts de Québec, Gestev, Musicor and Distribution Select.

Naming Rights

Its parent company, Quebecor, a Canadian telecommunications, news media, entertainment and culture communications conglomerate, also announced the new arena will be named Videotron Centre after its telecommunications business.

Videotron is known for its cable business and also sells wireless devices and services. With the naming rights, the company is hoping to boost its 12 percent share of the Quebec marketplace. Yet, while Quebecor’s media properties are dealing with flat or declining revenues, Videotron wireless is growing. The five-year old company had about 630,000 subscribers at the end of the fourth quarter.

The company will pay Quebec’s capital city $33 million as part of the 25-year management deal. Should Quebecor win a National Hockey League franchise, that amount would nearly double to $63.5 million. Quebecor will also pay rent and a percentage of net revenue for events hosted.

“We looked at several suitors for the naming rights, but it made sense to use Videotron, which we own,” said Robert. “We would love to have an NHL team and hope to get one.”

Quebecor has been actively seeking an NHL team for the last three years. The company recently purchased Quebec City’s minor league hockey team, which will play out of the new arena, but it has no multiyear professional sports lined up for the facility.

“Videotron Centre will be the new home to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, which has attendance of between 8,000 and 12,000 per game,” said Robert.

Videotron Centre is currently under construction with much of the arena’s exterior already completed. Financing was roughly split between the Quebec government and Quebec City, which has said it would borrow $125 million and cut the jobs of 500 workers to help pay for the project.

It will feature open concourses similar to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Arena, with foodservice provided by Levy Restaurants.

According to Newman, announcements as to events at the new arena will be coming within the next couple of months.

Interviewed for this article: Bob Newman, (213) 763-5425; Benoît Robert, 514 380-1924