Ex­am­in­ing the legacy of Mon­treal’s 1976 Sum­mer Olympics

The McGill Daily - - Contents -

Mon­treal of­ten seems to be a city in de­cline. A city of worn- down build­ings, large empty spa­ces, and end­less con­struc­tion. A city, per­haps, that was once more grand and pic­turesque than it is now, past its hey­day. The 1960s and 1970s, also known as the Jean Dra­peau Era, may have been that hey­day. Mayor Jean Dra­peau fo­cussed his ten­ure on mak­ing Mon­treal a global city through cul­tural and sport­ing events that were de­signed to el­e­vate Mon­treal’s sta­tus on the world stage. Expo 67 and the 1976 Sum­mer Olympics both came with grandiose build­ings and then- fu­tur­is­tic in­fra­struc­ture. The Olympics in par­tic­u­lar have made last­ing im­pacts on the city, both in­fras­truc­tural and psy­cho­log­i­cal. Seen by many as a waste of money, or a fail­ure of Dra­peau’s plan, the 1976 Games never seemed to please lo­cals. Count­less venues and struc­tures built for them are now sprin­kled across the city. Some of them are empty, some are slowly crum­bling, and still oth­ers have found new pur­pose.

Over the com­ing weeks, The Daily will visit some of th­ese venues to ex­am­ine their im­pact on Mon­treal, and the lives of its res­i­dents.

The Olympic Sta­dium is Canada’s largest sta­dium. Dur­ing the 1976 Oympics, it hosted open­ing and clos­ing cer­e­monies, as well as the ath­letic, eques­trian, and soc­cer com­pe­ti­tions. The cov­ered sta­dium is nick­named the “Big O” due to its donut shape. The in­clined tower ris­ing from the eatern side has be­come sym­bolic of Mon­treal, de­spite its con­tin­u­ing prob­lems re­quir­ing al­most con­stant restora­tion. Once the games were over, sev­eral ten­ants oc­cu­pied the space: the Mon­treal Alou­ettes CFL team played there from 1976-1998, while the Mon­treal Ex­pos MLB team played there from 1977-2004. Now, the sta­dium hosts only the oc­ca­sional event, such as a mon­ster truck derby, and Alou­ettes or Im­pact games re­quir­ing a larger sta­dium than the team’s own. The tower is vis­i­ble from most points in Hochelaga-maison­neuve.

Un­der­neath the tower is a swim­ming com­plex, in­clud­ing a div­ing tower and a small gym. Here, sev­eral fam­i­lies in the au­di­ence sup­port the swim­mers at prac­tice.

The Daily was de­nied ac­cess to the sta­dium, as it is cur­rently host­ing refugees flee­ing the U.S.. Out­side, there are de­serted plateaus that are fre­quented by skate­board­ers and scooter rid­ers.

The locked doors are made of tinted glass, re­flect­ing the large empty ar­eas around the sta­dium.

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