Olympic Stadium | The 870 million bet

Quebec wants to transform the Olympic Stadium into a magnet for megastars and sports leagues by completely replacing its headgear by the end of 2027. Bill: 870 million.

Experts say they are enthusiastic about this challenge, but recognize that the game is not won in advance for the iconic monument of the metropolis, even with a new roof.

After decades of procrastination, the Quebec government announced Monday that it is going ahead and breaking the bank. A light steel structure lined with a hoop of translucent glass should take the place of the current roof, allowing light to penetrate the Stadium enclosure. The technical ring, currently made of concrete, will be replaced by a steel tube.


Synthetic image of the future roof, seen from inside the Stadium

“Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, Bruce Springsteen”, these are the types of extremely popular artists “that Montreal and Quebec have escaped” because of the current state of the Stadium, lamented Minister Caroline Proulx on Monday during the ‘announcement. “Artists are turning more and more towards large stadiums. (…) The industry of major stadium tours increased from 6.2 billion in 2022 to 9.1 billion in 2023. » The elected official drew up a long list of international tours which landed in Vancouver and Toronto l last year, without stopping in Montreal.

Even before the first hammer blow, the announcement of the imminence of the work will facilitate the task of the commercial teams responsible for attracting event promoters, according to the boss of the Olympic Park. “They have a date. Finally, the sword of Damocles is raised,” said Michel Labrecque. When his development manager “goes back to see the NFL, he knows that the roof is going to be replaced, that there is a timetable.”


Michel Labrecque, boss of the Olympic Park, and Caroline Proulx, Minister of Tourism

The renovation of the Stadium will bring Montreal into the network of cities capable of hosting large-scale events, says architect and professor at the University of Quebec in Montreal Philippe Lupien. But such transformation does not come without challenges. “That means a lot of heat, we will have to ventilate, light, control acoustic resonance. And this, depending on each event and their specific parameters. It will require considerable energy,” he observes.

The architect understands the decision to have a permanent roof, even if, according to him, this choice goes against the initial architectural spirit. “The building was designed for a retractable roof,” he recalls. We have a tower just for that. »

For Manuela Goya, of Tourisme Montréal, the replacement of the roof is also excellent news. “It’s joy. We hope that this will be the continuation and the end of the saga of this unloved person,” she said in a telephone interview. “We’re counting down to sleep until four years from now. »

Despite critics who point out that a closed roof and poor acoustics could continue to postpone certain events, Mme Goya maintained his optimism. “It is certain that tourism can only benefit from having a functional stadium,” she said. For the rest, “we can only hope”.


A view of the future roof during a concert

One to midnight

“We decided that we were going to settle the matter once and for all,” said the Minister of Tourism, Caroline Proulx. “The status quo is just no longer possible. »

The minister argued that it was one minute to midnight for the iconic building designed by French architect Roger Taillibert. The current roof could not have survived more than “a year or two, at best” without major problems which would have resulted in “a permanent and complete closure of the Olympic Stadium”.

“Today, we are preparing for the future,” said the big boss of the Olympic Park, Michel Labrecque, assuring that Quebec was paying “the right price”.

The Stadium will be in better shape at 50 years old than at 40 years old.

Michel Labrecque, big boss of the Olympic Park

Mr. Labrecque, who will leave his position in the coming months, said he was convinced that this third roof would be the right one, despite past failures. “I think we brought the elements together – while remaining modest – because we had no right to be wrong a third time,” he said, after making the list of firms and experts who worked on the project this time. “I firmly believe we have the teams, on both sides, to succeed. Firmly. »

In the coming days or weeks, the Olympic Park will sign a 10-year construction and maintenance contract with the Pomerleau-Canam consortium, which has been working on the new roof project since 2019. The agreement will provide for a target price, always confidential, above which additional costs will be shared. The envelope of 870 million includes a contingency budget in the event of unforeseen circumstances.


The Pomerleau-Canam consortium should dismantle the current roof this year.

“It’s a big challenge,” confided Marcel Dutil, founder of Canam, on the sidelines of the announcement. It is his company which will build the steel structure. “We don’t have the right not to succeed. We have no room for error. We are at home. (…) The fun is over, the real work begins. »

The Pomerleau-Canam consortium should dismantle the current roof this year. The Olympic Stadium will spend two winters without thermal protection and will therefore have to be prepared for winter.

The Olympic Park announced last summer that its project to replace the roof of the Stadium should also include a replacement of the technical ring, because the standards of the Régie du logement regarding the capacity to retain the weight of snow have changed significantly in recent decades.

Project Cost Breakdown

19%: Dismantling of the current roof

12%: Construction of the new roof

69%: Assembly and installation

They said

We must make the Olympic Stadium a positive symbol!

Prime Minister François Legault, in a message published on social networks, while his official schedule indicated that he was in Montreal Monday afternoon

We are delighted that there is a solution, we hope it will be permanent for the roof of the Stadium. We’ve been in the same movie for so long. We move forward, we move back. I am satisfied that there is a major investment which aims in any case to resolve the problem, and above all to find a permanent solution.

Valérie Plante. mayor of Montreal, on the sidelines of an announcement elsewhere in the metropolis

This decision will finally release the full potential of the Olympic District and maximize the economic benefits. The government of Quebec has chosen the most profitable option for the next 50 years.

Jean-Denis Charest, CEO of the Eastern Montreal Chamber of Commerce (CCEM), by press release

An endless saga


The construction site of the Olympic Stadium, June 6, 1975

The genesis

1969: Montreal obtains a major baseball franchise and the 1976 Summer Olympics.

1976: Built in a hurry, the Olympic Stadium is inaugurated just in time for the Olympics. The leaning tower is unfinished and there is no roof covering the playing area.


Aerial view of the Olympic Stadium four days before the Olympic Games, July 13, 1976

1978: Quebec announces that it wants to cover its new stadium with a roof. He chose a retractable canvas in the tower, as planned by the architect Roger Taillibert.


Installation of the Olympic Stadium canvas, April 14, 1987

The nightmare

1987: After a decade of delays in completing the inclined tower, the first roof of the Olympic Stadium was finally installed. It will tear the following year, then again in subsequent years.

1998: The second roof of the Olympic Stadium, covered in Teflon, is installed. It will tear the following year, under the weight of the snow. Legal proceedings begin.


The second roof of the Olympic Stadium tore under the weight of snow in 1999.

2002: First call for interest for a third roof. Over the next few years, attempts to find a consortium to tackle the project failed one after the other. Thousands of tears accumulate on the roof of the Stadium.


Workers repair the canvas of the Olympic Stadium, 1er February 1999.

2017: The Council of Ministers gives the first green light to the Olympic Park in order to seek firms wishing to design and build the structure. This proposal, called the “opportunity file,” took seven years to develop.

2019: Only one consortium, led by the firms Pomerleau and Canam, qualifies to work on the project. The Olympic Park had to re-apply for tenders, but ultimately decided to award the contract by private agreement.

2024: Quebec approves the total investment of 870 million in the project by giving the green light to the business file submitted to it.


It is a light steel structure lined with a translucent glass hoop which will take its place and allow light to penetrate the Stadium enclosure.

The plan

2024: Dismantling of the current roof and technical ring.

2025: Installation of the new technical ring. The roof should follow the following year.

2027: Commissioning planned for December.


The new technical ring and the new roof

2077: The Olympic Park says its next roof should have a useful life of 50 years.

With the collaboration of Lila Dussault and Isabelle Ducas, The Press

reference: www.lapresse.ca

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