CPL Making Progress In Quebec City: ‘Things Are Moving Forward’
The Canadian Premier League commissioner wants to launch a team in the province of Quebec ‘yesterday’, with Quebec City establishing itself as a leader in the race to represent La Belle Province.
Speaking at an Atletico Ottawa event earlier this year, the commissioner revealed plenty about these Quebecois efforts, including the fact that the University of Laval’s stadium could be used as a stepping stool while a potential expansion team in Quebec City establishes more permanent digs.
Quebec outlet La Presse did some further digging, speaking with the University of Laval’s Director of Sport Activities to confirm that she’s indeed been in contact with several investor groups who have all looked at using Stade Telus for a CPL team.
“And when I say several, I mean more than two,” adds Julie Dionne, who has been fielding those calls for several years now. “It’s an active file.”
Given that it boasts quite a large capacity – a record 19,381 fans attended a Red and Gold match in 2019 – the university’s grounds can certainly accommodate some 5,000-6,000 seated spectators, which is a more realistic average target for clubs of CPL stature.
The commissioner was adamant that Canada’s top flight had momentum going in the city, with Dionne stating that there are indeed ‘active groups who want to come and set up in Quebec City’, though it appears Laval and Trois-Rivieres have also drummed up interest.
As for the backing of Quebec City itself, the CPL certainly has it through Jean-Francois Gosselin, the city’s elected sports counsellor.
“We’re open to it,” says Jean-Francois told La Presse. “We’re in collaboration mode. We hope it will come to fruition.”
Like Dionne, Gosselin is no stranger to interested investor groups in the city.
When David Clanachan revealed that there were multiple groups interested in the province back in 2019, Gosselin put a number for the ones looking into Quebec City: four. Currently, there’s ‘one group, maybe two’ who are still looking into things, and one of those has European investors involved.
“We can see that it’s really serious,” he adds. “We can see that things are moving forward. We can see that it has credibility with the league. We’re convinced a CPL team would work in Quebec City.”
Back in 2019 there was a large push for feasibility studies to see where stadiums for fledgling CPL teams would make sense. In 2021, Quebec City established a committee to evaluate not only that, but the interest in a CPL team for Quebec City. As we reported last year, the results came back favourably.
Philippe Bernard, the Regional Soccer Association of Quebec CEO, has also revealed that there have been meetings with the mayor about the construction of a soccer stadium, a fact that was reportedly backed by Gosselin.
“We’ve had discussions about various potential sites,” revealed Bernard. “We’ve come to a certain conclusion. There are some sites that, unfortunately, the city couldn’t release for various reasons.”
Bernard states that after evaluating the available land and judging items like public transportation and accessibility, the number one location for everyone he discussed the project with wound up being the University of Laval.
However, he says the it is not a site that has medium or long term viability. As the commissioner himself put plainly, a CPL team using that location must have a plan for a permanent location elsewhere firmly in place.
“A CPL club couldn’t play permanently at Laval University,” Noonan had said in September. “It would have to be a short-term solution. We’re not going to approve a club in Quebec City if there isn’t a stadium project attached to it.”
The Stade Telus setup poses a familiar problem to those who watched York United in 2019: the university stadium is surrounded by an athletic track. York Lions Stadium had this issue as well, eventually removing the track after its inaugural season and expanding the field to cover ground closer to the spectators.
“The athletics tracks pose a problem in terms of atmosphere and distance,” states Julie. “But it’s still a beautiful stadium. […] In soccer, you experience the same thing, you’re not as close to the game. But we need an athletics track, so that’s part of the game.”
As for whether the owners of Stade Telus are fully in for the plan? The jury is still out.
“We still need to do some market research,” adds Julie. “Our facilities are already in use. We have to see if these are things that can co-exist. If I’m not mistaken, the city has the same picture.”
Source: La Presse