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Discussion Starter #1
New roof for Montreal's 'Big O'?
Global News December 13, 2012

MONTREAL - Those involved in the future of Montreal's Olympic Stadium are fighting for its chances for the future.

"The RIO should have more power, should have more say, in its own future," said Lise Bissonnette, President, Advisory Committee on the future of the Olympic Park.

"We are suggesting that the legislation for the RIO be similar for what we are seeing for the Musee de Beaux Arts de Montreal."

Others are just full of plans.

"If we have a new roof, we will have more events at the Olympic Stadium," said l Menard, the mayor of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve.

And it's just this sort of optimism that's been missing since the 'Big O' opened in 1976 with the Olympic Games.

Thirty-seven years and $1.5 billion after it opened, the iconic stadium is crumbling beneath the weight of a heavy question mark: What should be done with it now?

Can it be a viable venture with out a major sports franchise?

Sports economist Andrew Zimbalist thinks this is unlikely.

"The answer's no. Absolutely not. There aren't enough events during the course of the year to generate enough revenue."

Perhaps the most infamous problem with the stadium is its fabric roof.

"Fixing the roof, whether it's $30 million or $80 million, it's not going to solve that problem," said Zimbalist.

"It's never a good idea to say 'build it and they will come' - particularly in this day and age with fiscal stringency."

876 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Pull-up retractable roof recommended for Big O
CTV Montreal Dec. 13, 2012

A special committee on the future of Montreal’s Olympic Park has opened the door to the installation of a retractable roof on the stadium not unlike that originally designed for the facility.

The suggestion was one of 22 recommendations that resulted from a year-long consultation with 4,000 people.

The roof, as originally designed by French architect Roger Taillebert, was meant to be pulled up and down by metal cables from the angled tower above.

A permanent roof was eventually installed but it collapsed under the weight of snow, leading to the permanent closure of the facility during the winter season due to concerns of another collapse.

Committee Chair Lise Bissonette said that advances in technology might make the original concept more workable.

“We’ve been told by many people that, given the fact that we’re in 2012 and not1976, that maybe we should look again at the original proposal for a retractable roof and see if it’s possible with the progress of science and technology,” said Bissonnette.

The roof would have to be “consistent with the original design of the building,” according to the report.

The other 21 recommendations included one that would make the facility a centre for amateur sport.

The report also recommends more autonomy for the Olympic Installations Board and initiatives to increase tourism to the site.

876 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Olympic Stadium's roof ripped 1240 times last year
Mayor Applebaum says new, retractable roof is the only solution
CBC News Apr 12, 2013

The fabric roof on Montreal's Olympic Stadium continues to deteriorate, according to the 2012 annual report of the Olympic Installations Board (RIO.)

An inspection last fall found 826 new defects or tears in the fibreglass material. That's after inspectors counted 414 tears in the spring of 2012 — for a total of 1,240. Repairs to the roof cost the RIO $316,000.

"The degradation of the mechanical properties of the fabric are significant, and aging is more significant than anticipated," the annual report states.

The RIO has been documenting a gradual deterioration of the fabric roof for the past several years. In 2009, the Montreal fire department was worried enough that it insisted on reviewing the security protocols at the stadium to ensure public safety.

Earlier this month, the advisory committee on the future of Montreal's Olympic Park called for the replacement of the roof.

Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum reiterated that on Friday.

"We need a replacement roof, and we're talking about a roof that is able to open in the summer time," Applebaum said.

The RIO has spent $1.4 million over the past two years studying its options for replacing the roof.

The roof is not the only expensive problem the installations board is facing. The parking structure at the Big O will also need major repairs over the next few years.

876 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Plans to replace Big O roof expected by end of 2013
CBC News Apr 13, 2013

As Montreal's Olympic Stadium roof continues to deteriorate, Quebec’s tourism minister says he hopes to present a plan for its replacement in the next few weeks.

According to the Olympic Installations Board's 2012 annual report, the stadium’s roof ripped a total of 1,240 times last year and repairs to the roof cost the board $316,000.

Minister of Tourism, Pascal Bérubé, said he expects the government will finalize its plans for a new roof by the end of 2013, but it could take several more years for the project to be completed.

The stadium’s roof has been plagued with problems ever since it was first constructed.

The current membrane roof was installed by Birdair in 1998 at a cost of $37 million, but ongoing problems mean the stadium can’t be used during the winter because of safety concerns.

Montreal Gazette columnist Bill Brownstein said he thinks it’s time to tear down the stadium.

“Enough is enough, I mean blow up the sucker. You can’t even use it in the winter, parking is a problem, inside structurally there are problems galore,” he said.

“The joke is on us after awhile. How long do we have to continue paying for all of this?”

But the minister said maintaining the historic building is important.

“It’s like an icon for Montreal,” Bérubé said.

The Quebec government is currently consulting with stakeholders on a number of factors regarding the new roof, including cost, utility and architecture.

But while the Big O may be a beloved part of Montreal’s skyline, Brownstein said it would be better for the city to cut its losses and move on.

“Sentiment can get in the way of pragmatism and I think at a certain point we just have to say this ain’t working.”

Olympic Stadium key facts:
- Opened without a roof in 1976 to host Olympic Games.
- Retractable roof system was added in later years, but its completion was delayed because of design problems.
- In 1987, an orange and silver Kevlar fabric covering held in place by steel cables was added, but it never retracted properly and cost up to $700,000 to maintain.
- A large chunk of the roof fell down in 1991 when support beams gave in. No one was injured.
- The current membrane roof was installed by Birdair in 1998 at a cost of $37 million.
- In 1999, a section of the new roof collapsed as workers were preparing for an auto show at the stadium. No one was hurt.
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