4 venues built for the 1976 Montreal Olympics

A headline on a news story from 1973 cited the very first estimate for how much the 1976 Montreal Olympics would cost: $310 million. When all was said and done, the final bill for the 1976 Games, including operating costs, came to nearly $1.6 billion.

Games left Montreal with a number of new buildings, and a billion-dollar debt

There were delays and there were cost overruns, but the installations at the Olympic Park, made up of the stadium, pool, velodrome, Maurice Richard Arena and the Pierre Charbonneau Centre, were (mostly) ready for the start of the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. (City of Montreal archives)

A headline on a news story from 1973 cited the very first cost estimate for the 1976 Montreal Olympics: $310 million.

At the time, the province's finance minister said the price tag would be paid for by revenue generated by the Games.

And Montreal Mayor Jean Drapeau notoriously asserted that "the Montreal Olympics can no more have a deficit, than a man can have a baby." 

When all was said and done, the final cost for the 1976 Olympics, including operating costs, came to nearly $1.6 billion.

It wasn't until 2006 that the bill was finally paid off. But the Games also left Montreal with a few new venues. Here's a look at four of the Games's legacy buildings.

Olympic Stadium

Olympic Stadium, under construction, in 1975. (Rhéal Benny, Vincent Massaro/City of Montreal Archives)

Cost as of August 1976: $795.4 million, which comes to $3.3 billion in 2016 dollars with inflation.

Construction: April 1974 to July 1976 (the above figure doesn't include cost of the tower and roof, which were completed in 1987).

Features: Stadium currently has permanent seating capacity of just over 56,000, but there were 73,000 spectators during the opening ceremony.

Olympic events hosted: Opening and closing ceremonies, show jumping (equestrian), athletics, soccer.

Fact: In May 1975, workers building the stadium walked off the job and did not return until October 26, delaying construction to the point where organizers were afraid the Games wouldn't start on time.

Post-Olympics use: Served as the Montreal Expos home field from 1977 to 2004, hosted the Grey Cup six times, has been the site of a number of soccer games and is still used as a concert venue. The stadium welcomed about 589,000 visitors last year.


An aerial view of the Velodrome while under construction in 1974. (Rhéal Benny/City of Montreal Archives)

Cost as of August 1976: $86.5 million, which comes to $360 million in 2016 dollars with inflation.

Construction: August 1973 to April 1976.

Olympic events hosted: Track cycling, judo.

Fact: The skylights in the building proved to be controversial. They are made of a layer of polyurethane pressed between two sheets of acrylic; critics of the project claimed the skylights were flammable. Designers had to conduct tests on a number of plastic materials to assuage those fears.

Current use: In 1989, it was announced the building would be converted into a museum. In 1992, the Montreal Biodome opened.

The Velodrome was converted into the Biodome museum in the 1980's. (City of Montreal archives)

Olympic Village

The Olympic Village is nearly 600 metres in length and 19 storeys high. (Montreal Olympics official report)

Cost as of August 1976: $85 million, which comes to $354 million in 2016 dollars with inflation.

Construction: November 1974 to June 1976.

Specs, purpose: The village consists of two 19-storey buildings in the shape of pyramids, offering a total of 980 apartments surrounded by terraces. All athletes were housed in the Olympic Village, with the exception of those participating in the sailing and most equestrian events, which were held in Kingston, Ont. and Bromont, respectively.

Fact: For security reasons, the entire Olympic Village was surrounded by a high wire fence.

Current use: Apartment buildings. Currently managed by CAPREIT, rent ranges from $825 for a bachelor to $2,235 for a three-bedroom pad.

Claude-Robillard Centre

Spectators take in Olympic events at the Claude Robillard Centre. (City of Montreal Archives)

Cost as of August 1976: $57.8 million, which comes to $241 million in 2016 dollars with inflation.

Construction: October 1974 to May 1976.

Features: Olympic-sized pool, a 400-metre, eight-lane track, field with artificial turf for hockey and football practice, a natural grass surface for football which would be used as a baseball diamond after the Games.

Olympic events hosted: Handball, water polo.

Fact: The original price estimate for the complex was $15 million; it was named for Claude Robillard, the first director of Montreal's parks department.

Current use: Still in use as a sports centre.