Tenant: Montreal Expos (NL; 1977-2004); Montreal Alouettes (CFL; 1976-1997)
Opened: Summer 1976
First Expos game: April 15, 1977
Last Expos game: September 29, 2004
Current status: Still in use
Style: Retractable roof (inoperable)
Surface: Artificial (1977); Astroturf (1989); AstroGrass (2002); FieldTurf (2004).
Capacity: 43,739 (baseball); 56,245 (football)
Architect: Roger Taillibert (Paris, France)
Construction: Lavalin Inc. (Montreal, Quebec; 1988 retractable membrane roof); Birdair, Inc. (Amherst, New York; 1998 non-retractable membrane roof)
Owner: Régie des Installations Olympiques (Government of Quebec)
Cost: Over $1 billion (Canadian; includes $170 million for original 1988 retractable roof system, and $37 million for 1998 replacement roof)
Washington Nationals tickets:
Location: Left field (NW), Rue Sherbrooke; third base (SW), Boulevard Pie IX; first base (SE), Avenue Pierre-de-Coubertin; right field (NE), Boulevard Viau.
Dimensions: Foul lines: 325 (1977), 330 (1981), 325 (1983); power alleys: 375; center field: 404 (1977), 405 (1979), 404 (1980), 400 (1981), 404 (1983); apex of dome: 180; backstop: 62 (1977), 65 (1983), 53 (1989); foul territory: large.
Fences: 12 (wood, 1977), 12 (foam, 1989).
Designed for the 1976 Olympic Games, Olympic Stadium was not completed on time due to a strike by construction workers. The (556-foot-high) leaning tower used to retract the roof stood half finished until 1987 when the roof was finally completed. It took another 2 years before the roof, made from 60,696 square feet of Kevlar weighing 50 tons, became retractable.
The Stadium was remodeled in 1991, with 12,000 seats being removed for Expos games. In September of that year, one of the stadium's 55-ton concrete beams fell, forcing the Expos to play a handful of home games on the road. Problems with opening and closing the roof led to its permanent closure in 1992. The roof was removed in May of 1998, turning the park into an outdoor stadium for the season. In the spring of 1998, the orange Kevlar roof was removed and a $26 million opaque blue roof replaced it later in the year. The new roof does not open. The stadium’s total cost has exceeded $1 billion.
The Expos played some of their home games during the 2003 and 2004 seasons at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The team announced they were moving to Washington, DC on September 29, 2004. A move had been in the works since the team was bought by the other 29 Major League Baseball team owners in 2002.
- All messages were in French and English.
- When the Expos played an American team, the Canadian and American national anthems were sung before each game.
- Spectators could ride the metro (subway) to the ballpark via the Pie IX and Viau metro stations.
- Hosted the 1982 All-Star game.
- The tower is one foot taller than the Washington Monument and is angled at 45 degrees. It is the world's tallest inclined structure.
- The observation deck at the top of the tower can be reached by a 2-minute ride in a 90-passenger cable car.
- The retractable roof was silver on top and orange on the bottom with 26 white cones that linked the roof to the tower. Retracted like a large umbrella, it took 25 minutes to hoist the roof up or down on its 26 cables and could not be deployed when the wind was greater than 25 miles per hour.
- The roof improved offense by keeping out extreme cold.
- The distance from the field to the apex of the roof is 171 feet.
- An orange line was painted on the technical ring, which surrounded the stadium on the inside of the roof, after Dave Kingman hit it with a controversial foul ball. After that, Darryl Strawberrry and Henry Rodriguez hit the technical ring with balls that were ruled fair, and therefore home runs, because of the orange line.
More on Olympic Stadium:
Recommended Reading (bibliography):
- Take Me Out to the Ballpark: An Illustrated Tour of Baseball Parks Past and Present by Josh Leventhal and Jessica Macmurray.
- The Ballpark Book: A Journey Through the Fields of Baseball Magic (Revised Edition) by Ron Smith and Kevin Belford.
- City Baseball Magic: Plain Talk and Uncommon Sense about Cities and Baseball Parks by Philip Bess.
- Diamonds: The Evolution of the Ballpark by Michael Gershman.
- Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebration of All 273 Major League and Negro League Ballparks by Philip J. Lowry.
- Lost Ballparks: A Celebration of Baseball's Legendary Fields by Lawrence S. Ritter.
- Roadside Baseball: A Guide to Baseball Shrines Across America by Chris Epting.
- The Story of America's Classic Ballparks (VHS).
- Modern Marvels - Domed Stadiums (VHS).
4549 Pierre de Coubertin
Montreal, Quebec H1V 3N7
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View inside Olympic Stadium © 1999 by Ira Rosen.
View of Olympic Stadium and Montreal by Munsey & Suppes. Special thanks to Mario Perrazzino.
Updated April 2005
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