Olympic Stadium (Montreal)

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Olympic Stadium
Stade olympique
The Big O
Le Stade Olympique 3.jpg
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Olympic Stadium
Location in Montreal
Canada Quebec relief location map.jpg
Red pog.svg
Olympic Stadium
Location in Quebec
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Red pog.svg
Olympic Stadium
Location in Canada
Address4545 Pierre-de-Coubertin Avenue
Location Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Coordinates 45°33′29″N73°33′07″W / 45.558°N 73.552°W / 45.558; -73.552 Coordinates: 45°33′29″N73°33′07″W / 45.558°N 73.552°W / 45.558; -73.552
Public transit Montreal Metro.svg MtlMetro1.svg at Pie-IX
Montreal Metro.svg MtlMetro1.svg at Viau
Autobusmontreal.svg Société de transport de Montréal Buses
Owner Régie des Installations Olympiques (Government of Quebec)
Capacity Permanent capacity: 56,040 (1992–present) [1]
1976 Summer Olympics: 73,000 (1976–1992)
Baseball: 45,757 (1992–present) [2]
Soccer: 61,004 [3]
Football: 66,308 [4]
Concert: 78,322
Field sizeFoul Lines – 325 feet (99 m) (1977), 330 feet (101 m) (1981), 325 feet (99 m) (1983)
Power Alleys – 375 feet (114 m)
Centre Field – 404 feet (123 m) (1977), 405 feet (123 m) (1979), 404 feet (123 m) (1980), 400 feet (122 m) (1981), 404 feet (123 m) (1983)
Backstop – 62 feet (19 m) (1977), 65 feet (20 m) (1983), 53 feet (16 m) (1989)
SurfaceGrass (1976 and June 2, 2010)
AstroTurf (1977–2001; 2005–06)
Defargo Astrograss (2002–03)
FieldTurf (2003–2005)
Team Pro EF RD (soccer; 2007–July 2014)
Xtreme Turf by Act Global (July 2014–present) FIFA Certified
Broke groundApril 28, 1973
Opened July 17, 1976, 45 years ago
April 15, 1977 (baseball)
Construction cost C$ 770 million
C$ 1.47 billion (2006 – including additional costs, interest and repairs)
Architect Roger Taillibert [5]
Montreal Expos (MLB) (1977–2004)
Montreal Alouettes (CFL) (1976–86, 1996–97, part-time 1998–2013)
Montreal Manic (NASL) (1981–83)
Montreal Machine (WLAF) (1991–92)
CF Montréal (MLS) (2012–present, select games)
Parc Olympique Quebec

Olympic Stadium [1] (French : Stade olympique) is a multi-purpose stadium in Montreal, Canada, located at Olympic Park in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district of the city. Built in the mid-1970s as the main venue for the 1976 Summer Olympics, it is nicknamed "The Big O", a reference to both its name and to the doughnut-shape of the permanent component of the stadium's roof. It is also disparagingly referred to as "The Big Owe" in reference the astronomical construction costs to the city and of the hosting of the 1976 Olympics as a whole. [6] The tower standing next to the stadium, The Montreal Tower, is the tallest inclined tower in the world with an angle elevation of 45 degrees.


The stadium is the largest by seating capacity in Canada. After the Olympics, artificial turf was installed and it became the home of Montreal's professional baseball and football teams. The Montreal Alouettes of the CFL returned to their previous home of Molson Stadium in 1998 for regular season games, but continued to use Olympic Stadium for playoff and Grey Cup games until 2014 when they returned to Molson Stadium for all of their games. Following the 2004 baseball season, the Expos relocated to Washington, D.C., to become the Washington Nationals. The stadium currently serves as a multipurpose facility for special events (e.g. concerts, trade shows) with a permanent seating capacity of 56,040. [1] The capacity is expandable with temporary seating. Club de Foot Montréal (formerly known as Montreal Impact) of Major League Soccer (MLS) has used the venue when demand for tickets justifies the large capacity or when the weather restricts outdoor play at nearby Saputo Stadium in the spring months.

The stadium has not had a main tenant since the Expos left in 2004. Despite decades of use, the stadium's history of numerous structural and financial problems has largely branded it a white elephant.

Incorporated into the north base of the stadium is the Montreal Tower, the world's tallest inclined tower at 175 metres (574 ft). The stadium and Olympic Park grounds border Maisonneuve Park, which includes the Montreal Botanical Garden, adjacent to the west across Rue Sherbrooke (Route 138).


Background and architecture

As early as 1963, Montreal Mayor Jean Drapeau sought to build a covered stadium in Montreal. [7] A covered stadium was thought to be all but essential for Drapeau's other goal of bringing a Major League Baseball team to Montreal, given the cold weather that can affect the city in April, October and sometimes even September. In 1967, soon after the National League granted Montreal an expansion franchise for 1969, Drapeau wrote a letter promising that any prospective Montreal team would be playing in a covered stadium by 1971. 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. [8]

Tower with cables for retractable roof Montreal Olympic Stadium tower with cables for retractable roof.jpg
Tower with cables for retractable roof

The stadium was designed by French architect Roger Taillibert to be an elaborate facility featuring a retractable roof, [5] which was to be opened and closed by cables suspended from a huge 175-metre (574 ft) tower – the tallest inclined structure in the world, and the sixth tallest structure in Montreal. The design of the stadium resembles that of the Australian Pavilion at Expo '70 in Osaka, Japan. [9] Soon after Montreal was awarded the 1976 Games, Drapeau struck a secret deal with Taillibert to build the stadium. It only came to light in 1972. [8]

The 1976 Montreal Olympic Swimming Pool on July 25, 2017 Olympic Swimming Pool, Olympic Stadium, Montreal.jpg
The 1976 Montreal Olympic Swimming Pool on July 25, 2017

The Olympic swimming pool is located under this tower. 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 1976 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. [10]

The building's design is cited as a masterpiece of Organic Modern architecture. [11] Taillibert based the building on plant and animal forms, aiming to include vertebral structures with sinews or tentacles, while still following the basic plans of Modern architecture. [11]


Back view at night Le Stade Olympique de Montreal Nuit Arriere Edit 1.jpg
Back view at night

The stadium was originally slated to be finished in 1972, but the grand opening was cancelled due to a strike by construction workers. The Conseil des métiers de la construction union headed by André "Dédé" Desjardins kept the construction site in "anarchic disorder" until the Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa bought him off in a secret deal. [12] In his 2000 book Notre Cher Stade Olympique, Taillibert wrote "If the Olympic Games took place, it was thanks to Dédé Desjardins. What irony!" [12] Further delays ensued due to the stadium's unusual design and Taillibert's unwillingness to back down from his original vision of the stadium even in the face of escalating costs for raw materials. It did not help that the original project manager, Trudeau et Associés, seemed to be incapable of handling some of the most basic construction tasks. The Quebec provincial government finally lost patience with the delays and cost overruns in 1974, and threw Taillibert off the project. [8]

Additionally, the project was plagued by circumstances beyond anyone's control. 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 1976 Olympic Games. [8] [13]

The roof materials languished in a warehouse in Marseille until 1982, and the tower and roof were not completed until 1987. [7] [14] It would be another year before the 66-tonne, 5,500 m2 (59,000 sq ft) Kevlar roof (designed and built by Lavalin) could retract. Even then, it could not be used in winds above 40 km/h (25 mph). Ultimately, it was only opened and closed 88 times. [7]


North-east view from elevator lower deck compartment Montreal Olympic stadium funicular view..jpg
North-east view from elevator lower deck compartment

When construction on the stadium's tower resumed after the 1976 Olympics, a multi-storey observatory was added to the plan, accessible via an inclined elevator, opened in 1987, that travels 266 metres (873 ft) along the curved tower's spine. The elevator cabin ascends from base of the tower to upper deck in less than two minutes at a rate of 2.8 m/s (6.3 mph), with space for 76 persons per trip and a capacity of 500 persons per hour. The cabin is designed to remain level throughout its trip, while providing a panoramic view to its passengers.

The elevator faces north-east, offering a view to the north, south and east. It overlooks the Olympic Village, the Biodome, the Botanical Gardens and Saputo Stadium. 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.

Stadium financing

Aerial view at night Aerial view of Olympic Stadium (Montreal) as seen at night.jpg
Aerial view at night

Despite initial projections in 1970 that the stadium would cost only C$134 million to construct, strikes and construction delays served to escalate these costs. By the time the stadium opened (in an unfinished form), the total costs had risen to C$1.1 billion.

The Quebec government introduced a special tobacco tax in May 1976 to help recoup its investment. By 2006, the amount contributed to the stadium's owner, the Olympic Installations Board (OIB) (fr: Régie des Installations Olympiques), accounted for 8% of the tax revenue earned from cigarette sales. The 1976 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 2006, the stadium's costs were finally paid in full, more than 30 years after it opened. [6] The total expenditure (including repairs, renovations, construction, interest, and inflation) amounted to C$1.61 billion, making it—at the time all costs were paid off—the second most expensive stadium built (after Wembley Stadium in London). [15] Despite initial plans to complete payment in October 2006, an indoor smoking ban introduced in May 2006 curtailed the revenue gathered by the tobacco tax. [6] By 2014, the stadium's expense ranking had fallen to fifth, with the construction of costlier venues like MetLife Stadium, AT&T Stadium, and the new Yankee Stadium. Perceived by many to be a white elephant, the stadium has also been dubbed The Big Owe due to its astronomical cost.

The stadium has generated on average $20 million in revenue each year since 1977. It is estimated that a large-scale event such as the Grey Cup can generate as much as $50 million in revenue. [16]

Continuing problems

Although the tower and retractable roof were not completed in time for the 1976 Olympics, construction on the tower resumed in the 1980s. During this period, however, a large fire set the tower ablaze, causing damage and forcing a scheduled Expos home game to be postponed. In 1986, 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 30. [17] [18]

In January 1985, approval was given by the Quebec government to complete the project and install a retractable roof, financed by an Olympic cigarette tax in the province. [19] The tower construction and installation of the orange-coloured Kevlar roof were completed by April 1987, [20] a decade later than planned. The roof experienced numerous rips, allowing rain to leak into the stadium. [21] [22]

As part of various renovations made in 1991 to improve the stadium's suitability as a baseball venue, 12,000 seats were eliminated, most of them in distant portions of the outfield, and home plate was moved closer to the stands.

Olympic Stadium's blue roof and new scoreboard installed in 2015 Batting practice at Olympic Stadium in 2015.jpg
Olympic Stadium's blue roof and new scoreboard installed in 2015

On September 8 of that year, support beams snapped and caused a 55- long-ton (62- short-ton ; 56  t ) concrete slab to fall onto an exterior walkway. 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 1992 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. [7] For the 1992 season, it was decided to keep the roof closed at all times. The Kevlar roof was removed in May 1998, making the stadium open-air for the 1998 season. Later in 1998, a $26 million non-retractable opaque blue roof was installed.

In 1999, a 350 m2 (3,770 sq ft) portion of the roof collapsed on January 18, dumping ice and snow on workers that were setting up for the annual Montreal Auto Show. [18] [23] The auto show and a boat show the following month were canceled, [24] and the auto show left the venue for good (since then, the Montreal Auto Show has usually been held at the Palais des congrès de Montréal). Repaired once again, the roof was modified to better withstand winter conditions: the OIB installed a network of pipes to circulate heated water under the roof to allow for snow melting. Despite these corrective measures, the stadium floor remained closed from December to March. [25] Birdair, the fabric provider and designer of the roof, was later sued for the roof failure. [26] The installer of the roof, Danny's Construction, having suffered tremendous cost overruns along with its subcontractor Montacier, due to changes in the plans and specifications and delays, was terminated during the construction, and Birdair completed the project. Danny's Construction sued Birdair in 1999. [27] In February 2010, after a lengthy trial, the Quebec Superior Court awarded a judgement in favour of Danny's Construction and dismissed Birdair's countersuit. [28]

The stadium's condition suffered considerably in the early 21st century. During the Expos' final years in Montreal, it was coated with grime, and much of the concrete was chipped, stained, and soiled. [29] [30]

Plans for a third roof

In 2009, the stadium received approval to remain open in the winter, provided weather conditions are favourable. [31] However, the Olympic Installations Board issued a report stating that the roof was unsafe during heavy rainfall or more than 8 centimetres (3.1 in) of snow, and that it rips 50 to 60 times a year. The city fire department warned in August 2009 that without corrective measures, including a new roof, it may order the stadium closed. Events cannot be held if more than 3 centimetres (1.2 in) of snow are predicted 24 hours in advance, such as caused postponement of the Montreal Impact home opener soccer match in March 2014.[ citation needed ] A contract for a new permanent steel roof was awarded in 2004, with an estimated $300 million price tag. In June 2010, the Olympic Installations Board sought approval from the provincial government for the contract. [32] In May 2011 a committee was formed to study the future of the stadium and improve the usage of the stadium, pool, and sports centre. [33] [34]

A slab of concrete measuring approximately 8 by 12 metres (26 by 39 ft) fell from the roof of the stadium's underground parking facility on March 4, 2012. There were no injuries. [35] The roof continues to deteriorate, with 7,453 tears as of May 2017, [36] limiting use of the venue in winter to when there are three or fewer centimetres of snow on the roof. [37]

In 2015, a new high definition scoreboard was installed, replacing the aging two-panel display dating back to the stadium's renovations in 1992. [38]

In November 2017 the Quebec government approved a new roof, estimated to cost $250 million. [39] The Olympic Installations Board has estimated the cost of demolishing the stadium would be between $500 and $700 million, [40] though this figure is based on a preliminary two-month study and thus has a high margin of error. [41] The new roof was then planned to be removable, allowing the stadium to either be open-air or enclosed, consistent with the intent of the original roof. [39] The option of a removable portion of the roof has since been removed from the scope of the project. [42] [43]

Post-Olympic use

Gridiron football

The Alouettes in action in 2010 AlouettesStadeOlympique.jpg
The Alouettes in action in 2010

The Canadian Football League's Montreal Alouettes became the stadium's first major post-Olympic tenant when they moved their home games there halfway through the 1976 season. Capacity was reduced from its Olympic capacity of 72,000 to 58,500, but leapt to 66,308 when the natural grass was replaced with AstroTurf ahead of the 1977 season. [7] The Alouettes remained there through 1986, the franchise's final season of operations; the team would shut down shortly after the start of the 1987 season. A revived Alouettes franchise returned for the 1996 and 1997 seasons, but then moved to the Percival Molson Stadium in 1998, only using the larger Olympic Stadium for select regular-season and home playoff games. As of 2008, 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. [44] In addition, the stadium holds the record for the largest Grey Cup attendance, that of the 1977 Grey Cup game, in which the hometown Montreal Alouettes defeated the Edmonton Eskimos, 41-6 before 68,318 spectators; this despite a local transit strike and harsh winter weather conditions. [45]

Olympic Stadium has hosted the Grey Cup a total of six times, most recently in 2008 when the Calgary Stampeders defeated the hometown Alouettes. 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 69,083 attended a game played on September 6, 1977 between the Alouettes and Toronto Argonauts. [46]

In 1991 and 1992, the stadium was the home of the Montreal Machine of the World League of American Football. This included hosting World Bowl '92 on June 6, 1992, in which the Sacramento Surge defeated the Orlando Thunder 21–17 before 43,789. [47] [ better source needed ]

In 1988 (Jets and Browns) and 1990 (Steelers and Patriots), NFL pre-season games were played at Olympic Stadium. [48] [49]


Detail of the roof including the foul lines Stade Olympique Roof.JPG
Detail of the roof including the foul lines

In 1977, the stadium replaced Jarry Park Stadium as the home ballpark of the National League's Montreal Expos. As a part of the team's franchise grant, a domed stadium was supposed to be in place for the 1972 baseball season. However, due to the delays in constructing Olympic Stadium, until 1977, the Expos annually sought and received a waiver to remain at Jarry. As late as January 1977, it was thought the Expos would have to play at least part of the 1977 season at Jarry as well. The Parti Québécois' landslide victory in the 1976 provincial elections caused the Expos to break off lease talks. However, an agreement was reached in February, and an official announcement came in March. [7]

The Expos regularly played 81 home games every season until 2003, when they played 22 home games in Puerto Rico at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan. The Expos played 59 home games at Olympic Stadium in each of their final two seasons of 2003 and 2004; the franchise moved south to Washington, D.C. for the 2005 season and became the Washington Nationals.

Olympic Stadium's first baseball game was played on April 15, 1977. In front of 57,592, 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. [7] The Expos played five home playoff games in 1981; two in the NLDS against the Phillies, and three in the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, who went on to win the World Series. On October 19, the Expos lost the decisive fifth game, 2–1, to the Dodgers on Rick Monday's ninth-inning home run. In 1982, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game was played at Olympic Stadium in front of 59,057—a stadium record for baseball. On September 29, 2004, the Expos played their last game in Montreal, losing 9–1 to the Florida Marlins before 31,395. [50]

Olympic Stadium panoramic during an MLB preseason game in 2014 Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Mets in Montreal.JPG
Olympic Stadium panoramic during an MLB preseason game in 2014

Olympic Stadium proved to be somewhat problematic as a baseball venue. 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. [51] The upper deck was one of the highest in the majors; as was the case with most of its multipurpose counterparts, most of the upper-deck seats, particularly those in the outfield, were too far away to be of any use during the regular season.

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 1970s and early 1980s, fans arriving at the stadium from the Metro were greeted by an oom-pah band playing "The Happy Wanderer." Whenever an opposing pitcher tried to hold a runner at first rather than pitch, the sound system would cluck at him like a chicken. [8]

Before the 1991 season, the OIB began a major overhaul on the stadium's baseball configuration. The lower deck in center field was removed to make room for a larger scoreboard with replay capability. [52] That scoreboard was installed ahead of the 1992 season. Also ahead of the 1992 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 60,400 to 46,000.

The Expos were very successful in the stadium for a time, with above National League median attendance in 1977 and from 1979 to 1983. The Expos outdrew the New York Mets from 1977 to 1983, and 1994 to 1996, as well as the New York Yankees in 1982 and 1983. [53] [54] [55]

The stadium's playing conditions left much to be desired. 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. Longtime Expos trainer Ron McClain begged for a replacement, but the OIB was unwilling to spend the $1 million needed for a new surface. 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 1990s, several free agents specifically demanded that the Expos be taken out of consideration due to the poor playing conditions. [8]

By the mid-1990s, owner Claude Brochu concluded that Olympic Stadium was not suitable as a baseball venue, and actively campaigned for a replacement. [8] Brochu sold the team to Jeffrey Loria in 2000, who was equally dissatisfied with Olympic Stadium; he bluntly stated, "We cannot stay here." However, Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard refused to authorize public funding deemed necessary for a replacement, in part because Olympic Stadium still had not been paid for. [56] The poor conditions played a role in the Expos nearly being disbanded in the 2001 Major League Baseball contraction plan, which fell through due to court rulings. [8]

Ten years after the last Expos game at Olympic Stadium, the Toronto Blue Jays played two spring training games at the stadium against the New York Mets on March 28 and 29, 2014, with combined attendance of 96,350. [57] The Jays have continued this practice in subsequent years, against the Cincinnati Reds on April 3 and 4, 2015, with combined attendance of 96,545, [58] [59] the Boston Red Sox on April 1 and 2, 2016, with combined attendance of 106,102, [60] [61] the Pittsburgh Pirates on March 31 and April 1, 2017, combined attendance of 95,382, [62] [63] the St. Louis Cardinals on March 26 and 27, 2018, with combined attendance of 51,151 [64] and the Milwaukee Brewers on March 25 and 26, 2019. The New York Yankees were scheduled to play there on March 23 and 24, 2020 but the games were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Longest home runs

Willie Stargell of the Pittsburgh Pirates hit the longest home run at Olympic Stadium on May 20, 1978, driving the ball into the second deck in right field for an estimated distance of 535 feet. The yellow seat that marked the location where the ball landed has been removed from the 300 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. [65]

On April 4, 1988, the Expos' Opening Day, Darryl Strawberry of the New York Mets hit a ball off a speaker which hangs off a concrete ring at Olympic Stadium, estimated to have traveled 525 feet.

Henry Rodríguez hit a ball on June 15, 1997, that bounced off the concrete ring in right field, caromed up to hit the roof, and came down, hitting a speaker. The distance traveled by this ball is also estimated at 525 feet.

The longest home run hit to left field was Vladimir Guerrero's blast on July 28, 2003, that hit an advertising sign directly below the left field upper deck. The ad was later replaced with a sign reading "VLAD 502". [66]


Olympic Stadium with natural grass field Olympic Stadium Soccer.JPG
Olympic Stadium with natural grass field

The Olympic Stadium was the home of the NASL's Montreal Manic soccer team from 1981 to 1983. A 1981 playoff game against the Chicago Sting attracted a crowd of over 58,000. Several games of the 2007 FIFA Under 20 World Cup were played at Olympic Stadium and drew the largest crowds of the tournament, including two sell-outs of 55,800.

Olympic Stadium hosted a CONCACAF Champions League quarter-final game pitting the original Montreal Impact – who played primarily in the adjacent Saputo Stadium – against Club Santos Laguna of the Liga MX (Mexico First Division) on February 25, 2009. This was the first time an international soccer game took place in Montreal during the winter months. [67] The Impact won 2–0 in front of a record crowd of 55,571. [68] The stadium was also home to a friendly match between the Impact and A.C. Milan of the Italian Serie A on June 2, 2010 before 47,861. [69]

On July 25, 2009, Olympic Stadium became the first stadium outside France to host Ligue 1's Trophée des Champions, a super cup played by the winner of Ligue 1 and the Coupe de France. Over 34,000 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. [70]

On March 17, 2012, a record crowd of 58,912 packed Olympic Stadium to cheer on the current version of the Montreal Impact for their MLS debut on home soil, in an entertaining 1–1 draw with the Chicago Fire, setting a new attendance record for professional soccer in Quebec. [71] That record was later broken on May 12, 2012 with 60,860 people for a match against the LA Galaxy, also setting a new attendance record for professional soccer in Canada. [72]

On August 24, 2014, the Olympic Stadium hosted the final match of the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup. [73]

On April 29, 2015, a record crowd of 61,004 attended the final match of the CONCACAF Champions League between the Montreal Impact and Club América, establishing a new record attendance for professional soccer in Canada. [74]

The Olympic Stadium hosted tournament matches for the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup along with other stadiums across Canada. [75] One notable game was the semi-final match-up between the United States and Germany that took place on June 30, 2015, which drew a crowd of 51,176 people. The Americans won 2–0 in front of a largely partisan crowd and then went on to win their record third FIFA Women's World Cup trophy the following Sunday in Vancouver. This stadium is one of Canada's three candidate venues for the 2026 FIFA World Cup and is expected to get a retractable roof during the renovations for this sports event. [76]

Office space

Starting in 2018, the Desjardins Group plans to move approximately 1000 of its employees into the Montreal Tower. The company plans to occupy 7 of the 12 floors available in the tower. It is estimated that around $60 million in renovations are required before Desjardins can move in. [77]


Olympic Stadium hosted the 1978 World Junior Speed Skating Championships where they crowned the American siblings Eric and Beth Heiden as junior world champions. [78]

In August 1979 the Olympic Stadium hosted the 1979 IAAF World Cup in Athletics. [79]

The Catholic Charismatic Renewal Assembly took place in the presence of Father Emiliano Tardif in 1979.[ citation needed ]

On June 20, 1980, Roberto Durán defeated Sugar Ray Leonard to win the WBC boxing world's welterweight championship at the Olympic Stadium. [80]

The Drum Corps International World Championship finals were held at this arena in 1981 and 1982. [81]

On September 11, 1984, Pope John Paul II participated in a youth rally with about 55,000 people in attendance. [82]

Full view of the Montreal Olympic Stadium's mast from the side Montreal Stadium full mast.jpg
Full view of the Montreal Olympic Stadium's mast from the side
A view from the upper deck of the monster truck layout StadiumTrack.JPG
A view from the upper deck of the monster truck layout
Montreal Biodome in front of Olympic Stadium and its tower Biodome de Montreal.jpg
Montreal Biodome in front of Olympic Stadium and its tower

On October 30, 2010, a special mass, to commemorate the ascension to sainthood of Brother André, was held at the stadium. Over 30,000 people attended. [83]

In 2017, the venue was the site of the 2017 Artistic Gymnastics World Championships. [84]

1992 Concert Riot

On August 8, 1992, Metallica and Guns N' Roses co-headlined a North American Stadium tour Guns N' Roses/Metallica Stadium Tour with an included stop at Olympic Stadium. Several songs into Metallica's set, frontman and rhythm guitarist James Hetfield was accidentally burned by improper pyrotechnics forcing the band to cut their set short as Hetfield was rushed to the hospital. Lead guitarist Kirk Hammett, bassist Jason Newsted and drummer Lars Ulrich promised a makeup concert to quell the sold-out crowd of 54,666. The band would later perform two half-priced shows at the Montreal Forum in February 1993. [85] After a two-hour and fifteen minute delay, Guns N' Roses performed a shortened set. Singer Axl Rose later blamed the issues on bad audio and vocal problems. [86] Following the set, an estimated crowd of 2,000 people began rioting within the stadium and surrounding areas, the fans would overturn police cars and set multiple bonfires within the stadium causing an estimated $600,000 in damage to the stadium and surrounding areas. The Expos' schedule was unaffected by the repairs made to the stadium as they had been on a seven-game away stretch.

Attendance record

Pink Floyd attracted the largest paid crowd to the Olympic Stadium: 78,322 people on July 6, 1977. The second-largest crowd was 73,898 for Emerson, Lake & Palmer on August 26, 1977. The largest crowds for an opera performance were on June 16 and 18, 1988, with 63,000 to watch a production of Aida . [87]


The stadium is directly connected to the Pie-IX metro station on the Green Line of the Montreal Metro. Viau metro station on the Green Line is also nearby.

Facts and figures


As part of the commemorative stamps created for the 1976 Olympics, Canada Post issued a stamp depicting the Olympic Stadium and Velodrome. [94]

See also

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The Montreal Alouettes are a professional Canadian football team based in Montreal, Quebec. Founded in 1946, the team has folded and been revived twice. The Alouettes compete in the East Division of the Canadian Football League (CFL) and last won the Grey Cup championship in 2010. Their home field is Percival Molson Memorial Stadium for the regular season and as of 2014 also home of their playoff games.

1976 Summer Olympics Games of the XXI Olympiad, held in Montreal in 1976

The 1976 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXI Olympiad and commonly known as Montréal 1976, were an international multi-sport event held from July 17 to August 1, 1976 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Montreal was awarded the rights to the 1976 Games at the 69th IOC Session in Amsterdam on May 12, 1970. Montreal is the second French speaking city to host the Summer Olympics after Paris, over the bids of Moscow and Los Angeles. It was the first and, so far, only Summer Olympic Games to be held in Canada. Toronto hosted the 1976 Summer Paralympics the same year as the Montreal Olympics, which still remains the only Summer Paralympics to be held in Canada. Calgary and Vancouver later hosted the Winter Olympic Games in 1988 and 2010, respectively.

Rogers Centre Multi-purpose stadium in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; home venue of the Toronto Blue Jays

Rogers Centre is a multi-purpose stadium in Downtown Toronto, Canada, situated just southwest of the CN Tower near the northern shore of Lake Ontario. Opened in 1989 on the former Railway Lands, it is home to the Toronto Blue Jays of Major League Baseball (MLB). Previously, the stadium was also home to the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League (CFL) and the Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The Buffalo Bills of the National Football League (NFL) played an annual game at the stadium as part of the Bills Toronto Series from 2008 to 2013. While it is primarily a sports venue, it also hosts other large events such as conventions, trade fairs, concerts, travelling carnivals, circuses and monster truck shows.

Percival Molson Memorial Stadium

Percival Molson Memorial Stadium is an outdoor football stadium located downtown on the slopes of Mount Royal in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Named in honour of Percival Molson, it is owned by McGill University and was the home of the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League from 1954 to 1967 and has been since 1998. The stadium is also home to the McGill Redbirds and Martlets of the RSEQ, the Montreal Royal of the American Ultimate Disc League, and the Canadian Corporate Soccer League, the largest amateur corporate league in Canada. The Selwyn House Gryphons high-school football team also play their home games at the stadium. The stadium has a capacity of 23,420, the result of a renovation project begun in 2009 that increased capacity from 20,202 to over 25,000 before seats were removed in 2014 to reduce capacity to its current level.


The Autostade was a Canadian football stadium in the Victoriatown neighbourhood of Montreal, Quebec that stood at the north-west corner of the Cité du Havre sector of the Expo 67 site. It was the home of the Montreal Alouettes from 1968–1976, except for a brief period in 1972 when the team returned to its previous home, Molson Stadium.

BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, Canada

BC Place is a multi-purpose stadium located at the north side of False Creek, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It is owned and operated by the BC Pavilion Corporation (PavCo), a crown corporation of the province. It is currently the home of the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League (CFL), Vancouver Whitecaps FC of Major League Soccer (MLS) and the annual Canada Sevens as well as the BC Sports Hall of Fame. The stadium also served as the main stadium for the 2010 Winter Olympics and 2010 Paralympics which Vancouver hosted, the 2012 CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament, as well as a venue for multiple matches including the championship match for the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup.

Montreal Manic

The Montreal Manic or the Manic de Montréal were a professional soccer team based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, that played in the North American Soccer League. The Montreal Manic were brought back in 2020 by Canadian businessman Gary Gaul as an academy with boys and girls from U5 – U23.

The 2004 Canadian Football League season is considered to be the 51st season in modern-day Canadian football, although it is officially the 47th Canadian Football League season.

The Pearson Cup was an annual midseason Major League Baseball rivalry between former Canadian rivals, the Toronto Blue Jays and Montreal Expos. Named after former Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, it was originally created to raise money for minor league baseball in Canada. In later years, it was incorporated into the interleague baseball schedule.

Stade Canac Stadium in Quebec City, Canada

Stade Canac is a stadium in Quebec City, Quebec. It is used primarily for baseball and is the home field for the Quebec Capitales of the Frontier League minor league baseball team.

The Pavillon de l'éducation physique et des sports de l'Université Laval, usually called PEPS for short, is a sports complex located in Quebec City, Quebec, on the Université Laval campus. PEPS opened in 1970 and includes an outdoor stadium, an indoor stadium, two indoor swimming pools, basketball and tennis courts, a fitness centre, and two hockey arenas.

Sports in Montreal have played a major role of the city's history. Montreal is best known for being home to the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League, which are currently the city's only team in the Big Four sports leagues.

Olympic Pool, Montreal

The Montreal Olympic Pool was constructed for the 1976 Summer Olympics as part of the Montreal Olympic Park. The Olympic Pool is part of the larger swimming centre, located in the base of the inclined Montreal Tower. The centre has a spectator capacity of 3,012 seats.

Jarry Park Stadium

Jarry Park Stadium is a tennis stadium in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It was formerly a baseball stadium, home to the Montreal Expos, from 1969 to 1976. The Expos were Major League Baseball's first Canadian franchise. It served as a temporary home until the domed Olympic Stadium was finished and made available to the Expos. The ballpark was typically called simply "Jarry Park" or Parc Jarry. The stadium hosted two National Football League preseason games in 1969; August 25 and September 11.

The 2004 Montreal Expos season was the Expos′ 36th and final season in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The team finished in fifth and last place in the National League East at 67-95, 29 games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves. After the season, the team – which had played in Montreal since its foundation as an expansion franchise in 1969 – relocated to Washington, D.C., and became the Washington Nationals, as Major League Baseball returned to Washington for the 2005 season after a 33-season absence.

The 1978 Montreal Expos season was the tenth season in franchise history. The team finished fourth in the National League East with a record of 76-86, 14 games behind the first-place Philadelphia Phillies.

The 2003 Montreal Expos season was the 35th season for the Expos in Montreal and its penultimate season in Canada. It involved the Expos attempting to win the NL East. On August 28, 2003, the Expos led the NL Wild Card, tied for first place with the Marlins, Astros, Phillies, and Cardinals, but faded away in the stretch and failed to make the postseason, finishing 18 games back of the Atlanta Braves in the NL East and 8 games back of the Florida Marlins in the Wild Card. The Expos' 2003 record of 83-79 was identical to the one they finished with the previous year.

Venues of the 1976 Summer Olympics

For the 1976 Summer Olympics, a total of twenty-seven sports venues were used. Several venues used had been in existence before Montreal made its first Olympic bid in the late 1930s. By the 1950s, Montreal's bid for the Olympics shifted from Winter to Summer before it was finally awarded the 1976 Summer Games in 1970. Strikes in 1974-5 affected construction of the Olympic Park, most notably the Stadium, Pool, and Velodrome, to the point where the FINA President threatened to not have the diving, swimming, and water polo events take place there for the games in early 1976 though all three venues were completed as best as possible prior to the 1976 Games. 27 swimming world records were set as a result. The oldest stadium, Molson Stadium at McGill University, would be converted into artificial turf for the field hockey tournaments while the sailing program in Kingston, Ontario would be held in freshwater, both for the first time in Summer Olympic history. Indoor track cycling took place at the Olympics for the first time at the velodrome. Once the Olympics finished, the Montreal Expos and Montreal Alouettes moved into Olympic Stadium, staying until 2004 and 1997, respectively. The Montreal Canadiens remained at the Montreal Forum until they moved to the Molson Centre in March 1996. In 1992, the velodrome was converted into an indoor zoo now known as the Montreal Biodôme. Île-Notre Dame hosted a canoe sprint world championships and two rowing world championships since the 1976 Games, but the area north of the basin on the island has been host to the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix on an almost annual basis since 1978.

On November 6, 2001, the owners of the 30 teams in Major League Baseball voted 28–2 to eliminate two teams for the 2002 season. The two teams expected to be eliminated, the Minnesota Twins and the Montreal Expos, cast the dissenting votes. According to Commissioner Bud Selig, the decision was made due to economic reasons, as "the teams to be contracted [had] a long record of failing to generate enough revenues to operate a viable major league franchise." Also factoring into the contraction plan was the two teams' inability to fund the construction of new ballparks to replace the outdated Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome and Olympic Stadium.


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Events and tenants
Preceded by
Summer Olympics
Opening and Closing Ceremonies (Olympic Stadium)

Succeeded by
Grand Arena
Preceded by
Olympic Athletics competitions
Main Venue

Succeeded by
Grand Arena
Preceded by
Summer Olympics
Football Men's Finals (Olympic Stadium)

Succeeded by
Grand Arena
Preceded by
Memorial Stadium
Percival Molson Stadium
Home of the
Montreal Alouettes

2001 – current (with Percival Molson Stadium)
Succeeded by
Franchise folded
Percival Molson Stadium
current home (part time)
Preceded by
Jarry Park Stadium
Home of the
Montreal Expos

Succeeded by
RFK Stadium (as Washington Nationals)
Preceded by
Eisstadion Inzell
Host of the
World Junior Speed Skating Championships

Succeeded by
L'Anneau de Vitesse
Preceded by
Cleveland Stadium
Host of the
Major League Baseball All-Star Game

Succeeded by
Comiskey Park
Preceded by
Legion Field
Host of the
Drum Corps International
World Championship

Succeeded by
Miami Orange Bowl
Preceded by
National Olympic Stadium
FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup
Final Venue

Succeeded by
National Football Stadium
Port Moresby