Haven't we seen this movie before? If history is any indication, Montreal residents should always be nervous when hearing about building roofs on sporting venues.
Tennis Canada has been trying to petition the city of Montreal and the government to build a $70-million dollar retractable roof above IGA Stadium in Jarry Park by 2023. The debate is gaining steam because the Roger's Cup is just a few days away.
The organization claims that a roof will attract more global events and place the Roger's Cup in the upper echelon of professional tennis tournaments. Neighbourhood officials worry that the roof would be a waste of taxpayer money and that Jarry Park would never be the same, according to CBC News.
This whole story, in fact, reeks of an all-too-familiar smell that Montrealers should be concerned about.
If you aren't sure of what smell I'm talking about, here are three words — Montreal's Olympic Stadium.
Now, believe me, I can write a whole series of articles about Montreal's biggest engineering disaster but there are only a few things you need to know in this context.
Montreal paid off the $1.5-billion dollar Olympic debt only a few years ago and still, to this day, the Big Owe doesn't have a functioning roof! The city has tried three times (!) to build a retractable roof and each attempt has failed.
The first roof couldn't manage 25 km/hour winds, the second roof collapsed under a few inches of snow, and the third roof is a temporary one that'll cost $250 million to replace.
Arguably an eyesore for many years, the Olympic Stadium is slowly getting a facelift thanks to the various cultural events that take place in its spaces but it still represents Montreal's troubled relationship with construction projects.
Knowing all that, I'm sure you can understand why the plans for building a roof above IGA Stadium sound like a disaster in the making.
IGA Stadium is a world-class tennis facility that hosts the Roger's Cup tournament every year. As you can see from the above photo, installing a roof might turn out to be a little more complicated than Tennis Canada believes.
With an estimated price tag of $70-million, the proposed roof has neighbourhood officials worried about potential cost overruns and construction problems in Jarry Park. Still, according to La Presse, there has never been a cost overrun involved with IGA Stadium since it first opened in 1996.
The organization claims that the new roof will allow for more events in the park, something neighbourhood groups outright don't want to happen. Of the nine cities that host pro tennis events similar to the Roger's Cup, none have retractable roofs.
If we're to learn anything some Montreal's checkered past, it's to be skeptical about huge construction projects involving sports stadiums and taxpayer dollars.
The Roger's Cup begins August 3rd, 2019.