With the former home of the Montreal Expos expected to host 2026 World Cup matches, officials are pushing to replace Olympic Stadium‘s roof ahead of the event.
Originally constructed for the 1976 Summer Olympics, Olympic Stadium was home to the Expos from 1977-2004. The franchise relocated to Washington ahead of the 2005 season, becoming the Washington Nationals, but Olympic Stadium remains operational for annual MLB exhibitions featuring the Toronto Blue Jays, occasional home matches for MLS’s Montreal Impact, and a variety of other events.
In 2026, Canada, the United States, and Mexico will jointly host the World Cup. Olympic Stadium is among the Canadian venues expected to host 2026 World Cup matches, and it could receive a significant upgrade by then if Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government officials are able to finalize plans for a new roof. The prospect of a new roof has been floated in the past, and was discussed recently by Tourism Minister Caroline Proulx. Although some specifics about the new roof remain unknown, the goal is to have it in place by 2024, leaving time to spare before the 2026 World Cup. More from the Montreal Gazette:
The objective is the same: to have the old roof replaced by 2024, in time for the World Cup of 2026. The CAQ government has one key advantage over the others who made such promises: it is swimming in surplus funds.
“We will be working on replacing the roof, it is mandatory to change the roof,” Proulx said. “We will change the roof. The business plan will be tabled in the next few months.”
Proulx would not respond to questions about costs or whether the new roof would be retractable. The Couillard government had pegged the cost of the roof at somewhere between $200 million and $300 million.
All previous indications have been that any replacement of Olympic Stadium’s roof will not affect the separate pursuit of a new MLB team and ballpark in Montreal, and nothing appears to have changed in that regard. Stephen Bronfman is currently serving as a leader in the effort to bring MLB back to Montreal, with a site at the city’s Peel Basin being targeted by his group for a new ballpark and surrounding development. Replacing Olympic Stadium’s roof would fulfill what has been identified as a major need ahead of the World Cup, and potentially position the facility to draw other events in the future.