What do you get for a stadium that’s already had one retractable roof replaced by a non-retractable roof when the original retractable roof failed to retract? How about a new (possibly retractable) roof!
“It’s time we gave prestige and standing back to the Olympic Park and the Olympic Stadium,” [Québec Tourism Minister Caroline] Proulx told reporters at a news conference. “For too long it has been not loved or under-loved by Quebecers.”…
“We will be working on replacing the roof, it is mandatory to change the roof,” Proulx said. “We will change the roof. The business plan will be tabled in the next few months.”
This is not the first we’ve heard of Montreal’s Olympic Stadium getting a new roof — a year and a half ago, the previous tourism minister floated spending about $250 million on one, which at the time I called “just madness.” There are certainly times when stadiums need repairs — for Olympic Stadium, this has historically been “pretty much always” — but spending $250 million on a new roof, retractable or otherwise, is a hella expensive way to provide “standing and prestige,” especially when past roofs have only resulted in scandal and ridicule.
Even if you don’t want to tear down the stadium — which is currently getting $17 million a year in provincial subsidies, according to the Montreal Gazette, though it didn’t specify if these are just operating subsidies or include paying off the cost of past roofs and such — maybe it’s time to consider whether it wouldn’t be a better investment just to take the roof off entirely and leave the stadium open-air, as it was for the first decade of its existence. Sure, then it couldn’t be used for all of the 200 events a year it’s supposedly currently used for — actual number a whole lot less than that, unless guided tours of the stadium count as “events” — but are a handful of extra wintertime concerts or whatever, or even a shot at hosting some 2026 World Cup games (which, you know, take place in the summer when it’s quite pleasant outside in Montreal) really going to be worth $250 million in expense? I guess that’s not the sort of thing you ask when you’re the tourism minister and your job is promoting tourism at all cost and not figuring out how to pay for it, but one hopes that the rest of Québec’s legislators will give this proposal at least a bit more sideeye.