Molson Stadium to begin $29.4M expansion

The Montreal Alouettes announced on Sunday that the long-awaited expansion of Percival Molson Stadium will be completed by the 2010 CFL season, but the project's $29.4 million price tag has drawn fire from residents.

The Montreal Alouettes announced on Sunday that the long-awaited expansion of Percival Molson Stadium will be completed by the 2010 CFL season, but the project's $29.4 million price tag has drawn fire from residents.

Alouettes president Larry Smith, speaking at a Sunday news conference alongside Mayor Gérald Tremblay and provincial representatives, said team owner Robert Wetenhall will contribute $6 million to the project. The provincial government will provide $19.3 million, and $4 million will come from the city, he said.

The proposed improvements include 5,000 new seats, increasing the seating capacity to 25,000 from 20,202.

"This investment demonstrates that our administration and the government of Quebec value and support the development of Montreal's professional teams, as they are the great ambassadors for our city," said Tremblay.

"I am pleased that the new Percival Molson Stadium will not only be for the benefit of the Alouettes and their fans, but also for McGill students and all Montrealers."

Some residents who live near the stadium question whether the city should be spending money on the expansion at a time when it is cutting expenses elsewhere.

Last week, Tremblay announced the city would chop $155 million from its budget for 2009 to cope with the sagging economy. The city said it will save $95 million by leaving vacant jobs unfilled, freezing some salaries and abandoning some as yet unspecified projects. It will also cut $40 million from the transit budget.

Lucia Kowaluk, president of the Milton Parc citizens committee, told CBC News the added costs are an unwelcome burden to taxpayers.

She also said she is leery of the prospect of 5,000 more football fans in the neighbourhood.

"They are a real … irritant in the community," she said. "They don't know how to behave themselves. They drink too much beer in the stadium and they urinate around, and we're not happy."

Kowaluk said she'd like to see more police presence after games to deter antisocial behaviour.