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Morning Brew: Decide the fate of the Olympic Stadium

Posted by Andrés / October 17, 2011

20111017_olympicstadium.jpgMontréal's Olympic Stadium: the white elephant on the island. Yet, to remove it is as culturally sacrilegious as it is financially sound. As iconic as 1000 de la Gauchetière or the Farine Five Roses sign, the big 'O' is a landmark in our city's architectural memory. The City of Montréal recently set up an advisory committee that subsequently launched an inquiry with citizens on recommendations for future use of the establishment. This weekend, 1000 people were invited to tour the structure and submit their proposals. The only caveat: you could not recommend to tear the structure down.

Why, says committee president, Lise Bissonette? Such a project would cost $700 million, as the structure would need to be taken apart piece by piece. The metro line beneath precludes any possibility of imploding the structure by explosives. Drat! That's the originally quoted construction cost of the building back in the 1970s; but the eventual bill came to $1.5 billion in interest and repair costs, and this paid off only in 2006. Adding to this tally is the $300 million contract to build a new roof in the coming years. Don't forget: this is coming out the city's pockets, and by extension: yours and mine. The clincher: it only garners up about $20 million in revenue each year.

Here's some quick math:

- Cost: $1,500,000,000 (cost of the Olympic Stadium to date including repairs and interest) + $300,000,000 (newly contracted roof) = $1,800,000,000

- Revenue: $20,000,000 (per annum) x 35 (years of service) = $700,000,000 (for reference: estimated cost of demolishing the structure)

- $1,800,000,000 (cost) - $700,000,000 (revenue to date) = $1,100,000,000 (left to recoup)

- $1,100,000,000 / $20,000,000 (revenue per year) = 55 years to recoup costs

Of course, this is all precluding any additional repair costs. While my initial reaction would be to pay the additional $700 million, cut your losses and rip the place apart: according to the City, that's not an option. This means they have to come up with some viable revenue-generating solutions that are substantial enough to at least pay off any new cash this monster is sucking.

The current situation is this: the $20 million in revenue is coming solely from Alouettes playoff games and various special events, such as conventions. These last are becoming increasingly rare ever since the infamous auto show roof collapse of 2009. Thus, for the most part, there is no revenue being generated during winter.

My solution? Remove the roof entirely. It already generates nothing during the winter months, and no new roof is going to change the fact that prospective clients don't trust it. Keep it closed during the winter and save the proposed $300-million for future roof repairs. There's no use funneling money into a repair that offers no guaranteed income. And that shaves 15 years off the above formula. If any money needs to be spent in the area, it can go towards ripping up the concrete around the structure. Let's face it: the big O's surroundings are ugly and unwelcoming. Introduce some foliage and some grass. Lure in more professional or semi-professional sports leagues. Make it the official home of the Impact or the Alouettes, and have all their games played there. If all else fails, build a permanent or temporary museum exhibit chronicling the many pitfalls of the stadium.

We at Midnight Poutine want to hear what readers suggest for the future of the Olympic Stadium. Let us know by leaving your comments below.

Discussion

5 Comments

roofing companies toronto / July 1, 2014 at 08:11 pm
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Regards
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