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Work begins on phase two of Percival Molson Stadium expansion

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by Irwin Rapoport

Work has finally begun on the long-awaited Phase II of the expansion of McGill University’s Percival Molson Stadium, the home of the Montreal Alouettes football team. The work, which began earlier this month and to be complete by June 1, 2010, will see the installation of nearly 5,000 seats and 18 private boxes.
Work begins on phase two of Percival Molson Stadium expansion

Montreal

Work has finally begun on the long-awaited Phase II of the expansion of McGill University’s Percival Molson Stadium, the home of the Montreal Alouettes football team. The work, which began earlier this month and to be complete by June 1, 2010, will see the installation of nearly 5,000 seats and 18 private boxes.

“This project will ensure the viability of football in Quebec and the financial stability of the Montreal Alouettes for many years,” said Alouettes’ president and CEO Larry Smith. “This is something we have been working on for the last decade.”

The $29 million project has the provincial government covering $19.3 million of the cost, with the City of Montreal contributing $4 million and the team’s owner investing just over $6 million. The official announcement for the project was made at recent news conference.

The plan is to have the new seating in place for the start of the 2010 season. The stadium currently has slightly more than 20,000 seats. The stadium’s state-of-the-art video scoreboard will become a permanent feature of the grounds.

The design for the expansion was provided by Kansas-based HOK Architects, with the on-site work provided by Montreal-based Werleman Guy McMahon Architectes.

Decasult is serving as the project management firm for the project. Kingston Byers is the general contractor for the work being done this spring. The contractor for the work to be done next fall/winter has not been selected.

Approximately 3,000 seats will be placed on top of the south side with the addition of an upper deck (the deck will have 4,500 seats, but 1,500 existing seats in the south stands must be demolished), with the remainder to be located on the east end zone, which currently has temporary seating.

The private boxes will be placed on top of the east end.

The stadium was built in 1915, opened in 1917 and then officially re-opened in 1919.

The first phase (completed in 2003) of the renovation saw the installation of new locker rooms, a press box, new lighting, and an initial reinforcement of the structure.

Phase II of the expansion will be done in two lots. The first, which will be completed by end of May, is focusing on foundation reinforcement and prep work. The last lot will start in September, during the last half of the regular season. The bulk of the work will start on November 1.

The design for the expansion was the subject of lengthy public hearings and discussions. Environmental groups, such as the Friends of the Mountain and many community groups raised concerns. The stadium is located within Mount Royal’s heritage protection zone.

The new design, which was approved by the city and provincial government, dealt with concerns of visual pollution, the relocation of existing trees and the planting of new trees.

“We made sure that we listened to all the groups and then we went back to the drawing board,” said Louis-Philippe Dorais, the Alouette’s assistant vice-president of communications.

The owners of the city’s local soccer stadium, meanwhile, are cautiously considering an expansion of their own.

In late February, following the massive 55,571 attendance at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium for the CONCACAF Champions League soccer quarterfinal, which featured the Montreal Impact soccer team, team president Joey Saputo said that he was considering the possibility of accelerating the expansion of the seating at the recently completed Saputo Stadium.

The stadium, located in the Olympic Park, currently has 13,000 seats. An expansion could see the stadium go to 18,000 or 20,000 seats. Of late, said Saputo, many fans have enquired about the possibility of purchasing season tickets.

Currently more than 5,000 of the stadium’s seats are held by season ticket holders.

“When it’s time for us to increase capacity at our stadium, it will be when we feel we have the season-ticket base,” Saputo told the local media.

“When we have fans coming and filling the stadium every night with 13,000 bums (actually) in seats. At that point, we’re going to have to take a look at our stadium. We’re going to do it one step at time. What we don’t want to do is build quickly and then two years from now be back to where we are today.”

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