Thursday, September 6, 2012

Olympic Stadium (Montreal, Canada)

The Olympic Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district of Montreal, Quebec, Canada built as the main venue for the 1976 Summer Olympics. The stadium 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; "The Big Owe" has been used to reference the astronomical cost of the stadium and the 1976 Olympics as a whole.

The stadium is the largest by seating capacity in Canada. After the Olympics, it became the home of Montreal's professional baseball and Canadian football teams. Since 2004, when the Montreal Expos relocated to Washington, D.C., the stadium has no main tenant, and with a history of financial and structural problems, is largely seen as a white elephant. It currently serves as a 56,040-seat multipurpose facility for special events (e.g. concerts, trade shows), and continues to serve as a 66,308-seat venue for playoff and Grey Cup games hosted by the Montreal Alouettes.

The Montreal Impact also use the stadium on occasion when a larger capacity venue is needed or when the weather restricts outdoor play in the spring months. The tower incorporated into the base of the stadium, called the Montreal Tower, is the tallest inclined tower in the world at 175 metres (574 ft).

Background and architectur

The stadium was designed by French architect Roger Taillibert to be a very elaborate facility featuring a retractable roof, which was to be opened and closed by a huge 175-metre (574 ft) tower – the tallest inclined structure in the world, and the sixth tallest structure in Montreal. 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. The building's design is cited as a masterpiece of Organic Modern architecture. Taillibert based the building on plant and animal forms, aiming to include vertebral structures with sinewy or tentacles, while still following the basic plans of Modern architecture.


As construction was well underway, a labour strike caused a major delay to the building of the stadium and, in particular, the tower. The roof languished in a warehouse in France until 1982. It was not until 1987, 11 years later, that both the tower and roof were completed.

Attendance record

Pink Floyd attracted the largest ever paid crowd to the Olympic Stadium. The July 6, 1977 event gathered 78,322 fans.

Facts and figures

At 175 m (574 ft), the Olympic Stadium is both the world's tallest slanted structure and stadium[citation needed]. Well over its original budget, the stadium ended up costing $770 million to construct. By 2006, the final cost had risen to $1.47 billion when calculating in repairs, modifications and interest paid out. It took taxpayers 30 years to finally pay off the cost, leading to its nickname of "The Big Owe" (a play on "The Big O").

The roof is only 52 m (170.6 ft) above the field of play. As a result, a number of pop-ups and long home runs hit the roof over the years, necessitating the painting of orange lines on the roof to separate foul balls from fair balls. The Olympic Stadium's foul poles were painted red, while every other baseball stadium uses yellow poles (except Shea Stadium (1964–2008) and Citi Field (2009 – present) home of the New York Mets which have orange foul poles.) The Olympic Stadium holds the record for a soccer game attendance in Canada. At the 1976 Summer Olympics soccer final, 72,000 people witnessed East Germany's 3–1 win over Poland.

A yellow seat on the 300 level commemorates a 534-foot (163 m) home run by Willie Stargell of the Pittsburgh Pirates. ( It has since been removed to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame) The Montreal games of the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup were held at Olympic Stadium on a removable Team Pro EF RD surface that was purchased specifically for the tournament.

For the first time since the Olympic Games, a natural grass field was installed in the stadium for the Impact FC match versus AC Milan on June 2, 2010.

The stadium features a 101,600-watt public address system The main room of the stadium is the largest in Quebec, at 43,504 m2(204,400 sq. ft.) The stadium, specifically the Montreal Tower, is also portrayed as 'Picus headquarters' one of the key settings of the game Deus Ex: Human Revolution. That video game was developed by Eidos Montreal, a video game studio based in the city.


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