No! No more money for the Olympic Stadium

Not a dollar. Not a penny. Not even a lint covered button. No more money for the Olympic Stadium. Have we all gone mad? In the capital of protesting and ‘sticking it to the man,’ why are we not putting up more of a fight on related to expenditures on the Big Owe?

This spring, the Quebec government said that a sickening $200 million dollars has to be sunk into this sinking ship over the next decade – and that doesn’t even cover fixing the issues of the Swiss cheese-like current stadium roof to the tune of several hundred millions more! Factor in that it currently costs $1.4 million dollars to operate this near-abandoned structure annually and we’re talking about a disgustingly obscene amount of money.

Olympic Stadium

Photo:, March 2012, after a concrete block fell.

Why? Why are we doing this? Because the governments say that it’s a tourist attraction? Really? Have you ever actually met someone who has gone up to the top of this hideous structure? Ever heard a tourist from out of town say that they want to bypass downtown and visit the empty Olympic Stadium and ascend its leaning tower? Ridiculous.

Still, we never seem to get a plausible response as to why we keep the money flowing into what has become the ultimate money pit. The stadium has no tenant. It’s been called one of the worst buildings in the history of professional sports many times. It’s void of any real evening entertainment destinations within miles. Am I missing something here?

This is downright crazy. We’re throwing bad money after bad money, year after year, literally. And to what end? Are overly concrete, problem-riddled echo chambers going to come back in style in professional sports? Can you really picture this edifice serving any purpose in the year 2040? What are we doing here? Doesn’t any government official see the big picture?

It’s like spending $600 to repair a five-year old laptop instead of buying a new one!

Full disclosure, I am one of many advocating for a new stadium to house the return of the Montreal Expos. Everyone knows that. But this is more than about getting our baseball team back. This is about civic pride. When every metropolis in North America has a functioning stadium that doesn’t require the budget of a small country just to remain upright, it begins to border on the embarrassing.

Vancouver has a revitalized BC Place. Toronto has a decent Rogers Centre. Montreal has a weather-dependent facility problem.

Is it really a stretch to think that a fine organization like Evenko couldn’t bring in major acts to play in a new downtown stadium year-round? Yes, I said all year because I believe that we need a new stadium with a retractable roof. All sorts of musical, comedic and sports shows would take full advantage of a centrally-located crown jewel of Montreal. As a former boss of mine was fond of saying, “It’s a no-brainer.”

So you see, my desire for a new stadium coincides with trying to procure a baseball team, and isn’t just about attracting one.

Yes, I know what the naysayers want me to explain; how are we going to pay it?

It’s quite simple, really. First, with the average Major League Baseball payroll currently sitting at roughly $110 million, can you imagine the amount of income taxes that the provincial government would collect annually from the Montreal based players? Can we we not simply earmark those sizable funds towards paying the government back for a stadium? Next, we all know how stadium naming rights are worth a pretty penny. Can we not factor that revenue in as well?

Finally, there’s the Dominic Therrien white paper proposal of partially funding a stadium through a wealthy immigration program. It worked in Brooklyn (see the Nets and now the Islanders). Add all of these revenue streams up and you have a large portion of a new stadium potentially paid for – and we didn’t even mention a potential ‘buy a stadium brick’ public campaign. I’m no economist or financier, but surely there’s a starting point here.

At the end of the day it’s about common sense. Do we want to be the laughing stock of the country and continent by continuing to prop up failing infrastructure or do we want to lure a baseball team back and create a REAL must-see Montreal destination?

The choice seems obvious. But then again I have no interest in reaching the top of the Olympic Stadium for a great view of the nearby Insectarium’s roof.

Follow @MatthewWords


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