The Montreal Alouettes say only financing remains to be settled before construction can begin on the expansion of Percival Molson Stadium, the CFL's smallest venue.
The CFL club said it cleared a major hurdle Tuesday night when opponents of the proposed expansion failed to get enough signatures to force a referendum. The team hopes to have financing in place for construction to begin next year and for work to be completed in time for the start of the 2008 season, a club spokesman said.
The Alouettes need to secure $23 million from three levels of government and $4 million in private funding for the project.
They hope to add 5,000 seats to the 20,020-seat facility on the McGill University campus by building an upper deck on the south side grandstands and adding extra seating in the east end zone.
The expansion would produce about $2.5 million per year in extra revenue.
Team president Larry Smith has said the Alouettes' future in Montreal depends on the stadium expansion and that the club cannot make a profit as it is despite having the league's highest ticket prices.
Opponents of the project include some residents near the stadium who object to the noise and to crowds streaming to and from the facility on game nights, and environmentalists wary of any construction in the area, which is mostly lush parkland.
The expansion plans call for the main entrance to be moved to the east side, which would direct fans away from the nearby residential neighbourhood.
Smith said that while some trees would be cut down, more would be planted that would partially shield the stadium from view and prevent soil erosion.
Smith said in a statement that the team would work with a neighbourhood committee to ensure residents' concerns are considered.
"Our message has been heard," Smith said. "In partnership with McGill University, we want to reiterate that we will respect our commitment to enhance the district's quality of life."