Olympic Stadium

The Olympic Stadium is the largest stadium in Canada. This multi-purpose stadium, nicknamed the Big O (a reference to both its name and to the doughnut-shape of the roof)  is located in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district of Montreal.

The stadium was built as the main venue for the 1976 Summer Olympics. After the Olympics, it became the home of Montreal's professional baseball and Canadian football teams. It currently serves as a multipurpose facility for special events, such as trade shows or concerts, but it continues to serve as a 66,308-seat venue for playoff and Grey Cup games hosted by the Montreal Alouettes.

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

Despite initial projections in 1970 that the stadium would cost only C$134 million to construct, construction delays served to escalate these costs. By the time the stadium opened for the 1976 Olympic games, the total costs had risen to C$264 million.

Location of the Olympic stadium : 4545 Pierre de Coubertin Avenue, Montreal, Quebec H1V 3N7

olympic rings

Welcome to the Olympic Stadium of Montreal. Photo: © ProvinceQuebec

welcome to the stadium of montreal

Passage leading to the stadium from the metro (subway) Pie-IX Station. Photo: © ProvinceQuebec

inclined tower

This huge 175-metre (574 ft) tower is the tallest inclined structure in the world, and the sixth tallest structure in Montreal. Photo: © ProvinceQuebec

olympic tower

The tower is incorporated into the base of the stadium and it is called the Montreal Tower. Photo: © ProvinceQuebec

entry hall olympic stadium

Entry Hall. The stadium was not fully completed in time for the Olympic Games due to problems with the unusual design and strikes by construction workers, but it successfully hosted the games. Photo: © ProvinceQuebec

center medical sport

Center for Sports Medicine. Photo: © ProvinceQuebec

olympic stadium walls

The stadium was built as the main structure for the 1976 Summer Olympic Games, but it was host to various events including the opening and closing ceremonies, athletics, football finals, and equestrian events. Photo: © ProvinceQuebec

tennis game

In 2006 the stadium's costs were finally paid in full. The total expenditure, including repairs, renovations, construction, interest, and inflation, amounted to C$1.61 billion, making it the second most expensive stadium ever built after Wembley Stadium in London. Photo: © ProvinceQuebec

building stadium

Despite initial projections 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, the total costs had risen to C$264 million. Photo: © ProvinceQuebec

tower flags

Although not completed in time for the Olympics, construction on finishing the tower recommenced in the 1980s. During this period, however, a large fire set the tower ablaze, causing damage. In 1986, a large chunk of the tower fell onto the playing field during another Expos game. Photo: © ProvinceQuebec

roof of the stadium

In 1987, an orange-coloured Kevlar retractable roof was installed, finally completing the stadium. However, soon after it was put into use it ripped on several occasions due to a design flaw. In the months that followed, it was plagued by further rips and leaks during rain storms, bringing water down into the stadium. Photo: © ProvinceQuebec

observatory montreal

When construction on the tower resumed after the 1976 Olympics, a multi-story observatory was added to the plan, accessible via a funicular that travels 266 metres along the curved tower's spine. Photo: © ProvinceQuebec


As construction of the Olympic Stade 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, that both the tower and roof were completed. Photo: © ProvinceQuebec

vue générale de la tour de montréal

During the Games and for several years afterward, the stadium did not have a tower or roof. Both the tower and the roof, made of over 5,500 m2 (59,000 sq ft) of Kevlar, stood unfinished, and it was not until 1988 that it was possible to retract the roof. Photo: © ProvinceQuebec

olympic village

The stadium has generated on average $20 million in revenue each year. It is estimated that a large-scale event such as the Grey Cup can generate as much as $50 million in revenue. Photo: © ProvinceQuebec

bridge sherbrooke street

"The Big Owe" has been used to reference the astronomical cost of the stadium and the 1976 Olympics as a whole. Photo: © ProvinceQuebec

flags podium stade

Olympic Stadium financing : The Quebec government introduced a special tobacco tax in May 1976 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. Photo: © ProvinceQuebec

olympic tower

The Olympic swimming pool is located under this tower. The 66-tonne roof proved difficult to retract, and could not be used at all in strong winds. During baseball season, whenever rain was accompanied by high winds, this resulted in the unusual phenomenon of a rain delay in a covered stadium. It was also torn during particularly windy conditions. Photo: © ProvinceQuebec

impact stadium

The Montreal Impact has its new stadium here. Photo: © ProvinceQuebec

planetarium montreal

… and a new Montral Planetarium has been constructed on the site. Photo: © ProvinceQuebec

maurice richard arena

Maurice Richard Arena. Photo: © ProvinceQuebec

star cité

Star Cité, Cineplex. Photo: © ProvinceQuebec

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