Chronological Tour: Stop 37

The Big O

Montreal’s Stade olympique, and the broken roof-raising mechanism, Jul-1998.

A rare view indeed: sunlight hitting the seats of the Big O. The roof had been removed for repairs during the 1998 season.

No matter what is tried, this just doesn’t feel like a baseball park. This photo is from Sep-1993.

Quick Facts: Rating: 0 baseballs
The ville de Montréal won the bid for the Games of the XXI Olympiad, 1976, with the mayor insisting that the Games would make money and everything would be paid off in no time.

Last I looked, the city was still in debt for that event. As a result, it was impossible to improve the stadium that was built on the east end of town for the opening and closing ceremonies and athletic events, the first stadium to feature a retractable dome.

The idea was for the dome to be “picked up” and lifted away by a series of pulley wires; the mechanism was attached to a funicular that tourists could ride up to see the Parc olympique and the city. However, it frequently backfired, and several games in the 1990s had to be moved out of town due to a malfunction. Most of the 1998 season was played with the dome totally missing.

Even an open dome did nothing to save this place, though. The acoustics were still horrendous, and the ability to see the sky was not enough of a mitigating factor. The artificial turf field, also used for the CFL Alouettes, seemed out of place, and the usual feeling you get when you watch a baseball game remained absent.

There was talk of building a new stadium closer to downtown, possibly near the new home of the NHL Montréal Canadiens. A site up in Parc Jarry, the Expos’ original home, was also discussed. However, the Expos’ ownership sold out in 2002, facing ever-declining ticket sales, and Major League Baseball took the team over. The Expos played 22 games of their 2003 and 2004 seasons in San Juan, P.R., but for 2005 the club was moved to Washington, D.C. This led to a three-year return to action for Robert F. Kennedy Stadium, which had last seen pro baseball in 1971 with the Washington Senators.

Game # Date League Level Result
76 Sat 5-Sep-1992 National MLB Houston 5, MONTRÉAL 2
113 Sat 18-Sep-1993 National MLB Philadelphia 5, MONTRÉAL 4
114 Sun 19-Sep-1993 National MLB MONTRÉAL 6, Philadelphia 5
188 Sun 10-Sep-1995 National MLB NY Mets 6, MONTRÉAL 2
312 Sat 18-Jul-1998 National MLB Pittsburgh 5, MONTRÉAL 2
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This page updated 10-Aug-2009