Quebec will go ahead with Olympic Stadium renovations

Quebec is expected to announce on Monday that it will replace the Olympic Stadium's roof and technical ring. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Quebec is expected to announce on Monday that it will replace the Olympic Stadium's roof and technical ring. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Quebec will announce Monday morning that it will indeed replace the roof and technical ring of the Olympic Stadium, according to information obtained by Radio-Canada.

The work will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, but is not expected to reach the billion-dollar mark. Caroline Proulx, the minister responsible for the file, will unveil a cost estimate during the announcement.

Previous estimates reported by La Presse were between $750 million and $1 billion. The project is expected to take four years to complete.

Necessary renovations include dismantling the existing roof, replacing the technical ring that holds the entire stadium structure together and building a new roof.

Quebec Premier François Legault said he wanted to make the stadium a "positive symbol" for the province. Once renovated, the stadium will be able to host events year-round, regardless of weather conditions, which it can't do at the moment.

The government estimates that, once construction is complete, the Olympic Stadium's activities will generate annual revenue of close to $150 million — more than double the assessed $68 million it currently brings in.

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante welcomed the news.

"The Olympic Stadium is a jewel of the metropolis, a symbol of the city and a major contributor to the dynamism of Montreal's east end," she said in a statement from her cabinet.

"We want a lasting solution for the stadium, and its roof. So it's very good news that the government is in a position to announce investments for the renovations it requires."

Alexandre Leduc, MNA for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, said the move is "the only logical choice."

"The stadium is an architectural jewel and a strong symbol of Hochelaga and Montreal," he said in a statement.

Renovation rather than demolition

According to Radio-Canada sources, the government considered demolishing the stadium.

An up-to-date assessment of the "cost of inaction" concluded demolition would cost "more than $2 million" along with a loss of revenue from rentals, making it financially unviable.

The stadium received private and public investments of over $1.5 billion in recent years. According to government estimates, the Olympic District has assets worth around $10 billion. Demolition would wipe out a large part of these assets and impact the Olympic Park and nearby Metro line.

If it doesn't get renovated, the stadium would have to be closed during winter, have the roof dismantled within two years and then be totally demolished.

The Olympic Stadium can hold 50,000 spectators. By comparison, the Bell Centre has room for just over 21,000 people.

To justify the renovations in December, Proulx said Quebec was missing out on Taylor Swift's tour "because we currently do not have a stadium able to produce such a show."

The Olympic Stadium has been closed since mid-December to allow exploratory work to replace the roof. The decision forced CF Montréal to move its opening match in April to Saputo Stadium.