MONTREAL – Montreal Impact vice president Richard Legendre made it very clear to the local press on Thursday: Newly renovated Stade Saputo will be open for business when the Impact host the Seattle Sounders on June 16.
“It’s progressing quickly, and we need it to progress quickly,” Legendre told reporters. “More than 50 percent of the work is now done. Stands are popping up fast, and we’ll be going at full blast until June 16. We’re working exclusively on that scenario – that we’re playing on June 16."
WATCH: Stade Saputo - Part 2
The deadline for the delivery of Stade Saputo 2.0 was extremely tight right from the start. Work could not begin until last fall, as the club had to make a second call for tenders in order to meet budget requirements previously ignored by the first bidders.
Eyebrows were then raised when a giant slab of concrete fell from the ceiling of an Olympic Park underground parking facility on March 4. Then came a report from a local radio station, which indicated that work would not be completed before Stade Saputo’s opening game against Seattle.
The club has nevertheless insisted progress was good and the deadline was expected to be met. Personnel are on the construction site every weekday and work overtime on most weekends in order to deliver a fully renovated stadium.
Should the stadium not be fully completed, says Legendre, the emphasis will lie on the aspects needed to actually play a game and welcome 20,341 fans, namely the grass and the stands.
Ticket sales for games at the Olympic Stadium lead the Impact VP to believe capacity crowds will be the norm at Stade Saputo.
“For the Portland game [this Saturday], a little more than 17,000 tickets have been sold,” Legendre said. “In our minds, getting close to 20,000, which is the capacity of Stade Saputo, is reason to be happy.”
According to Legendre, players and staff can expect to move into Stade Saputo a few days before its official opening, as the required natural grass can only be laid in the later stages of the ground's renovation.