Le Stade Olympique – Montreal, Québec - Atlas Obscura

Le Stade Olympique

A massive Montreal stadium that has seen nothing but trouble since its inception. 


The first Canadian city to host the Summer Olympic Games, Montreal began building the ill-fated Le Stade Olympique to be the centerpiece of their 1976 event.

Alas, despite the city’s intention of building the arena for the global games, the “Stade,” as it is known to locals, was incomplete by the time of its unveiling at the Summer Olympics. It took ten more years for site to be fully completed. It has since been used for baseball games, soccer matches, football games and Grey Cups (Canada’s Superbowl), auto shows, a Pope rally and countless rock concerts. It is even believed that Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters was inspired to write the band’s epic album, The Wall after playing the stadium in 1977.

Designed by French architect Roger Taillibert, the building certainly is an innovative piece of work for its time. Among some of the building’s unique features are an inclined tower observatory which is the tallest in the world and a roof that was designed to be fully retractable. However, because of a flaw in the ceiling’s arrangement process it was tried a few times and soon deemed unsafe. The roof now stays put, except for the occasional piece that falls from it. Fortunately there haven’t been any injuries, so far. 

In addition to the delayed completion and malfunctioning design, the stadium’s economic woes may be its lasting legacy. Due to the prolonged construction budget, which eventually topped out at over one billion dollars Canadian, the city of Montreal only finished paying for the stadium 30 years after the Olympics for which it was built. To this day most Montrealers heartbreakingly refer to it as “The Big Owe.”


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