Sat. Feb 24th, 2024

The estimate of $2 billion for the demolition of the Olympic Stadium called into question

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Quebec presented an $870 million plan to replace the roof unstable and dangerous Olympic Stadium.

The Canadian Press

It is estimated that demolishing Montreal's Olympic Stadium would cost $2 billion, but that sum raises questions as other North American cities have demolished stadiums for hundreds of millions of dollars less. p>

Tourism Minister Caroline Proulx revealed the estimate earlier this week, when she presented a relatively less expensive plan of $870 million dollars, to replace the unstable and dangerous roof of the Stadium, built for the 1976 Olympic Games.

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Caroline Proulx, Minister of Tourism.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">The place cannot host games or exhibitions half the year due to the fragility of its roof: events are canceled if more than three centimeters of snow are forecast.

But over the years, elected officials have said that the only reasonable option was to continue to maintain the Stadium – even if its roof has never really been operated since its completion in 1987 – rather than demolishing the city's east facility.

That's certainly more than I've ever heard of for stadium dismantling, says Victor Matheson, professor of economics at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, specializing in sports economics.

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In Atlanta, Georgia, for example , a domed football stadium was replaced in 2017, with the cost of demolition and construction estimated at $1.6 billion.

The fact that in Atlanta you can build a whole new stadium and demolish the old one for the same price as the one in Montreal seems worrying.

A quote from Victor Matheson, economics professor at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, specializing in sports economics

The cost of demolishing a sports building can vary greatly. In 2017, an Ontario company received $2.1 million to demolish Regina's 33,350-seat football stadium.

In Washington, D.C. , the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium was demolished at a cost of $20 million in 2023, according to local media.

In New York, the The cost of demolishing the original Yankee Stadium was estimated at $25 million, the New York Times reported., although the city could spend an additional $25 million to transform the site into a park.

A 2009 report commissioned by the company that manages the Montreal Olympic Stadium estimates the cost of demolition at $700 million – about $965 million when adjusted for inflation.

According to the report, one of the factors driving up the cost of demolition is that it is impossible to implode the Olympic Stadium with explosives.

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The Olympic Stadium is closed until further notice due to exploratory work to replace the roof.

As the Stadium is made of pre-stressed concrete, controlled explosions could throw concrete blocks hundreds of meters, raise a cloud of dust and cause a shock wave that could damage the adjacent Biodôme and a metro tunnel. below.

The report, prepared by the Séguin engineering office, also excludes the use of a wrecking ball. The company behind the document, which later changed its name to Génius Conseil, ceased commercial activities in 2014, a year after its president testified to the Charbonneau commission about a system of collusion and bribery in the awarding and management of public contracts.

In 2020, the company agreed to pay $300,000 to settle federal bid-rigging charges.

Daniele Malomo, a professor of civil engineering at McGill University, says it is impossible to estimate the cost of demolition without a thorough assessment. He maintains, however, that the use of prestressed concrete makes the work more complex.

The problem with demolishing something like this is that you can't just cut away the concrete.

A quote from Daniele Malomo, professor of civil engineering, McGill University

Prestressed concrete is less susceptible to cracking and more resistant to bending, but the reinforcing bars inside are under tension and, if the concrete is cut, energy will be released, he explains. It will essentially behave like a bomb.

Reducing the tension and removing the armature wires would be a lengthy process, he explains.

According to Bruno Massicotte, professor of civil engineering at Polytechnique Montréal, the infrastructures located under the Stadium, such as the metro, exclude the use of explosives.

The unique nature of this structure will necessarily increase costs compared to other types of stadiums. But the justification for these 2 billion dollars was not presented.

A quote from Bruno Massicotte, professor of civil engineering, Polytechnique Montréal

The Olympic Park mentioned by email that beyond the cost of dismantling the Stadium's 12,000 concrete elements, the $2 billion estimate included $158 million for inflation, 168 million for minimal site restoration and $80 million to restore nearby roads after trucks passed 20,000 to 30,000 times during demolition.

The costliest stadium demolition in North America, after Montreal, could take place in Houston, Texas, where the projected cost is nearly $80 million to demolish the Astrodome.

There, community members achieved national heritage status for the building, which was the first domed stadium in the world when it was built , in 1965.

James Glassman, founder of the preservation group Houstorian, said many Houstonians have fond memories of sporting events or concerts at the stadium, which has become one of the city's few historic landmarks. p>

But with the National Football League and Major League Baseball teams once calling the stadium home – the NFL team left the city in 1996 and MLB has been playing in a new stadium since 1999 – community organizations are trying to find new, creative uses for the structure, he said.

Once it's gone, it's gone forever, so be careful. It's easy to get caught up in demolition fever, but who pays to tear it down? Who benefits? What is being built in its place? he lifts.

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