Why the Big Owe must go

The Olympic Stadium is certainly a cause for discussion. Whether one advocates to destroy or preserve it, there is an urgency for alternatives.
Supporters of the Big Owe can now list Peggy Curran of the Gazette as part of their team, due to her Sept. 19 column in defence of preserving the stadium. This is unfortunate for people like me who support its demise, and who wish to see Montreal finally cut its losses and salvage what it can through its demolition.
With all due respect to supporters of the building, their cause is nonsensical. While I agree with Curran in describing the stadium as “positively mythic” and “otherworldly,” symbolism is hardly reason enough to ignore its status as a white elephant in our city.
Given its history of roof collapses and other structural failings, the likelihood of another disaster during a game or concert is quite high. The predicament of the Olympic Stadium was bound to happen and is a result of misguided priorities, ignorance and faulty incentives.
Designated as the main venue for the 1976 Summer Olympic Games, this massive structure was certainly built with the needs of a huge international event in mind. It is unfortunate that bigger events cannot be held there on a regular basis, thus making it somewhat economically viable.
Since the departure of the Montreal Expos in 2004, very few large-scale events have taken place at the Olympic Stadium. By privatizing the facility, it will give a chance for people to use its resources to unleash creative incentive, thus in turn improving the quality of life for Montrealers as a whole.
The possibilities are quite endless. The cessation of public funds being poured into the stadium could be put towards infrastructure repairs for those “teetering bridges and caving roadways.” Whatever it may be, it will surely improve general quality of life of Montreal in a sustainable and responsible way.
Being too far away from the downtown core for the convention crowd and not being an attractive piece of land for any kind of real estate, it will prove quite problematic to replace it with anything remotely profitable.
Demolition costs would amount to approximately $700 million, CBC reported, and implosion would be impossible because of the location of the metro line underneath. However daunting it seems, this should not make us fear taking the necessary actions to rectify a historical error.
As for the land, private developers can explore options such as affordable housing which students can greatly benefit from in an area directly over a metro line. Imagine what that would do in terms of expanding the capacities of research and study at our universities. Or perhaps even build a new, more magnificent stadium that pays for itself and serves the needs of Montreal in a practical way. Either of these projects would bring new economic development in terms of construction and continued usage of the area.
While it is difficult to admit a mistake, people must realize that it is not a cause for paralyzing shame. It is time for Montrealers to be courageous and remedy the Big Owe situation.



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