History[ edit ] Background and architecture[ edit ] As early as , Montreal Mayor Jean Drapeau sought to build a covered stadium in Montreal. In , soon after the National League granted Montreal an expansion franchise for , Drapeau wrote a letter promising that any prospective Montreal team would be playing in a covered stadium by However, even as powerful as he was, he did not have the power to make such a guarantee on his own authority.
Just as Charles Bronfman , who was slated to become the franchise's first owner, was ready to walk away, Drapeau had his staffers draw up a proposal for a stadium. It was enough to persuade Bronfman to continue with the effort. It only came to light in An Olympic velodrome since converted to the Montreal Biodome , an indoor nature museum was situated at the base of the tower in a building similar in design to the swimming pool. The building was built as the main stadium for the Summer Olympic Games.
The stadium was host to various events including the opening and closing ceremonies , athletics , football finals, and the team jumping equestrian events. The Quebec provincial government finally lost patience with the delays and cost overruns in , and threw Taillibert off the project. Work slowed to a snail's pace for a third of the year due to Montreal's typically brutal winters.
As a result, the stadium and tower remained unfinished at the opening of the Olympic Games. Ultimately, it was only opened and closed 88 times. The funicular cabin ascends from base of the tower to upper deck in less than two minutes at a rate of 2.
The cabin is designed to remain level throughout its trip, while providing a panoramic view to its passengers. The funicular faces north-east, offering a view to the north, south and east.
The Olympic Park, the stadium's suspended roof and downtown Montreal can be viewed from the south-west facing Observatory at the top of the tower. The Quebec government introduced a special tobacco tax in May to help recoup its investment. The special tobacco tax act stipulated that once the stadium was paid off, ownership of the facility would be returned to the City of Montreal. In mid-November , the stadium's costs were finally paid in full, more than 30 years after it opened.
Perceived by many to be a white elephant, the stadium has also been dubbed The Big Owe due to its astronomical cost. During this period, however, a large fire set the tower ablaze, causing damage and forcing a scheduled Expos home game to be postponed. In , a large chunk of the tower fell onto the playing field prior to another Expos game August 29 vs. San Diego Padres forcing a doubleheader on August The roof experienced numerous rips, allowing rain to leak into the stadium.
No one was injured, but the Expos had to move their final 13 home games of that season to the opponents' cities. The Expos hinted that the season was at risk unless the stadium was certified safe. In early November, engineers found the stadium was structurally sound. However, it took longer to certify the roof as safe because it had been badly ripped in a June windstorm.
The Kevlar roof was removed in May , making the stadium open-air for the season. Repaired once again, the roof was modified to better withstand winter conditions: Despite these corrective measures, the stadium floor remained closed from December to March. Danny's Construction sued Birdair in During the Expos' final years in Montreal, it was coated with grime, and much of the concrete was chipped, stained, and soiled.
Plans for a third roof[ edit ] In , the stadium received approval to remain open in the winter, provided weather conditions are favourable. The city fire department warned in August that without corrective measures, including a new roof, it may order the stadium closed. Events cannot be held if more than 3 centimetres 1. In June , the Olympic Installations Board sought approval from the provincial government for the contract. There were no injuries. Capacity was reduced from its Olympic capacity of 72, to 58,, but leapt to 66, when the natural grass was replaced with AstroTurf ahead of the season.
A revived Alouettes franchise returned for the and seasons , but then moved to the Percival Molson Stadium in , only using the larger Olympic Stadium for select regular-season and home playoff games. As of , the franchise uses Olympic Stadium for playoff games only. Due to the increased popularity of the Alouettes and the small capacity of Percival Molson Stadium, the team considered returning to Olympic Stadium on a full-time basis, but instead renovated Percival Molson Stadium to increase its capacity.
The stadium holds the record for nine of the ten largest crowds in CFL history , which include five regular-season and four Grey Cup games. A single-game record crowd numbering 69, attended a game played on September 6, between the Alouettes and Toronto Argonauts. As a part of the team's franchise grant, a domed stadium was supposed to be in place for the baseball season.
However, due to the delays in constructing Olympic Stadium, until , the Expos annually sought and received a waiver to remain at Jarry. As late as January , it was thought the Expos would have to play at least part of the season at Jarry as well. However, an agreement was reached in February, and an official announcement came in March.
The Expos played 59 home games at Olympic Stadium in each of their final two seasons of and ; the franchise moved south to Washington, D. Olympic Stadium's first-ever baseball game was played on April 15, In front of 57,, the Expos lost 7—2 to the Philadelphia Phillies. However, the Expos had to use a hacksaw to cut open the locks because the OIB did not have a master key.
On October 19, the Expos lost the decisive fifth game, 2—1, to the Dodgers on Rick Monday 's ninth-inning home run. On September 29, , the Expos played their last game in Montreal, losing 9—1 to the Florida Marlins before 31, As in all multipurpose stadiums, the lower seating tier was set further back than in baseball-specific parks to accommodate the football field.
However, since Canadian football fields are longer and wider than American football fields, Olympic Stadium's lower tier was set back even further than comparable seats at American multipurpose stadiums. The Expos felt considerable chagrin that they were not consulted on the stadium's location, design, or construction even though they were slated to be its primary tenants. Nonetheless, for most of their tenure they put considerable effort into making the atmosphere friendlier for baseball. During the s and early s, fans arriving at the stadium from the Metro were greeted by an oom-pah band playing " The Happy Wanderer.
The lower deck in center field was removed to make room for a larger scoreboard with replay capability. Also ahead of the season, the running track was removed, home plate was moved closer to the stands and new seats closer to the field were installed.
Several distant sections of permanent seating beyond the outfield fence were closed, replaced with bleacher seats directly behind the fence. The total seating capacity for baseball was reduced from a high of around 60, to 46, The Expos were very successful in the stadium for a time, with above National League median attendance in and from to For most of the Expos' tenure, the playing surface was an extremely thin AstroTurf carpet, with only equally thin padding between it and the concrete floor.
It was so hard on players' knees that visiting teams frequently ran at a nearby park. Before the roof finally arrived, players had to contend with huge patches of ice in early April or late September. Additionally, for most of the Expos' tenure, the padding on the fence was so thin that fielders risked severe injury by going after long fly balls. However, the OIB was also unwilling to replace the padding. By the s, several free agents specifically demanded that the Expos be taken out of consideration due to the poor playing conditions.
Louis Cardinals on March 26 and 27, , with combined attendance of 51, The yellow seat that marked the location where the ball landed has been removed from the level. The seat is now preserved at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.
Stargell also hit a notable home run at the Expos' original Montreal home, Jarry Park, which landed in a swimming pool beyond the right field fence. The distance traveled by this ball is also estimated at feet. The longest home run hit to left field was Vladimir Guerrero 's blast on July 28, , that hit an advertising sign directly below the left field upper deck.
The ad was later replaced with a sign reading "VLAD ". A playoff game against the Chicago Sting attracted a crowd of over 58, This was the first time an international soccer game took place in Montreal during the winter months.
Milan of the Italian Serie A on June 2, before 47, Over 34, attended the game. Bordeaux defeated Guingamp, 2—0. The game was held in Montreal to help Ligue 1 break into the growing North America soccer market. Office space[ edit ] Starting in , the Desjardins Group plans to move approximately of its employees into the Montreal Tower. The company plans to occupy 7 of the 12 floors available in the tower.