Bulldozer on the pitch during renovation of Montreal's Saputo Stadium
Courtesy of Montreal Impact

With Big-O relocated, Saputo renovations can progress

MONTREAL – One of the biggest hurdles in the Saputo Stadium renovation project was cleared on Friday morning: the Big-O, a historical monument dating back from the 1976 Olympic Games and symbol for the skateboarding community, was successfully moved.

The 175-ton concrete structure was safely relocated 82 feet to its new home, and with the Big-O challenge now out of the way, the stadium expansion can progress as planned.

“In reality, we’re sort of building an entirely new stadium,” said senior project manager Mario Garippo during a guided tour of what will eventually be the new and improved Saputo Stadium. “We’ve had excavators come in and we even had to use the pitch as a spot to put our machinery and materials.”

The new stand – which will upgrade the stadium's seating capacity to 20,000 – has yet to be installed, as the foundation still needs to be reinforced. But despite the delays and budget constraints – stadium renovations were initially scheduled to begin in May and expected to be completed by the spring of 2012 – Garippo explained that there were no major changes to the initial plans, which also include a roof.

“It didn’t change all that much,” he told MLSsoccer.com. “We kept the core ideas, but had to be creative in the minor details in order to meet the budget.”

The next obstacle Garippo and his team will face is the weather. With winter just around the corner, the crew will have to pick up the pace before the temperature dips below freezing point.

“The main challenge right now is to get as much done as we can,” Garippo admitted. “We know that we won’t be able to work with concrete come winter, but it doesn’t mean we’ll stop completely. We can still start setting up the steel structures during this time.”

The plan for both Broccolini Construction Inc. and the Montreal Impact is to have Saputo Stadium ready by the start of the summer, which gives the fans a six-month period before they can attend an MLS game there. In the meantime, the Impact will play at Olympic Stadium.

“The objective is to have [Saputo Stadium] ready for mid-June,” confirmed Garippo. “We’re working towards that schedule, and so far, things have been going according to plan.”