Olympic Stadium will have a retractable roof in time for 2026 World Cup
15 June 2018
The FIFA World Cup of soccer is coming to Montreal in 2026 and Olympic Stadium is going to finally get the retractable roof it didn’t have for the 1976 Olympics.
Soccer’s world governing body announced Wednesday that Canada, the United States and Mexico will jointly host the 2026 World Cup with games being played in Montreal, Toronto and Edmonton. Montreal city councillor Rosannie Filato said during a media scrum Wednesday at Centre Nutrilait, the Montreal Impact’s training facility, that Montreal will host between three and six games.
Since the World Cup — at least on the men’s side — must be played on grass, the artificial turf at Olympic Stadium will need to be replaced and the roof will need to open. A retractable roof was part of French architect Roger Taillibert’s original design, but the tower to support it wasn’t finished in time for the 1976 Olympics and once it was the roof was able to retract for only a short period of time before it was replaced with a fixed roof. Filato said the cost of the new roof would be between $200 million and $300 million.
In November, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard announced the government would spend at least $200 million on a new roof for the Big O
“Before even giving our official candidacy of the city of Montreal (for the World Cup as part of the United 2026 bid) the (Olympic Installations Board) and the provincial government already said that they were going to invest the money in the retractable roof,” Filato said. “So it’s great news to hold the FIFA World Cup, but it’s already money that was going to be invested and I think that’s important. … We adopted an action plan to see how we can attract large sporting events as well. So it’s a great investment for this specific event and it’s a great investment in general.”
Filato said the city estimates the financial return from hosting World Cup games will be around $200 million.
There’s no guarantee Canada will have a team at the 2026 World Cup, the first time it will be hosted by three countries. Up until now the host country has received an automatic berth, but 2026 will mark the first year the World Cup grows from 32 teams to 48, so there’s a good chance FIFA will decide to give spots to Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.
Canada has not qualified for the World Cup since 1986 — 10 years after the Olympic Stadium was supposed to have a retractable roof.