Tree huggers unite

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Claude Rochon feels like an Olympic athlete entered in the 100 metres: Four years' training comes down to what seems to him like a few seconds.

"This process has taken almost two years, and now it comes down to 20 or 25 minutes to do our presentation," said Rochon, an Alouettes vice-president (marketing and communications). "We've been told to be brief."

Public consultations begin tonight at 7 p.m. on the Als' proposal to increase seating at Molson Stadium - the CFL's smallest venue - by 5,000, bringing capacity to 25,202. The team hopes to build a second tier on the south side stands in time for the 2007 season. The extra seats would increase the team's annual revenue by an estimated $2.5 million.

Without it, Rochon doubts Montreal will have a CFL team by 2011.

"It's very simple. Our organization is at risk," he said.

The Als estimate it will cost $27 million to complete the project. They've asked for $23 million from the three levels of government - city, provincial and federal - with the remaining $4 million from private funding. The organization received $12 million in government assistance three years ago. That money was used to modify the structure.

The city of Montreal has conditionally endorsed this latest phase of the project through its executive committee. But city council voted last month to consult the public on the proposal.

"I was told to be prepared for anything," said Rochon, who will be accompanied by Als president Larry Smith and vice-president (operations and events) Mark Weightman. Also present will be Morty Yalovski, McGill's vice-principal (administration and finance). The university owns the facility.

Any Montreal citizen can attend tonight's session.

Rochon said 1,730 people live within a two-block radius. He expects representatives from Les Amis de la Montagne and Heritage Montreal will be present. Environmentalists are concerned that 68 trees will be removed, while the second tier would obstruct a portion of the skyline. The Als plan to rehabilitate the area, replacing trees, plants or shrubs.

A public forum will be held between June 13 and 15. The possibility exists of a referendum if 10 per cent of the residents of the surrounding area are opposed and sign a register. However, any referendum or blockage of the project could be overturned by a vote of city council.

"The city can decide to pull away or change things based on the opinion of the public," Rochon said. "You can't be sour. That's the price of democracy. That's the way the rules are made.

"People are preoccupied by environmental issues. Cutting a tree in society today is a difficult task. But I think we've done our homework and taken everything into account.

"We're playing for a tie. We won't win against certain opinions."

Everyone, from owner Robert Wetenhall to Smith and now Rochon, emphasized the Als' future hinges on the project being completed. Hosting the Grey Cup game in 2008 is worth at least $2 million to Wetenhall, but the organization can't remain viable without the additional seating.

Playing fulltime at Olympic Stadium isn't an option, he added, since 25 per cent of the team's 17,400 season subscribers don't purchase tickets when the Als play there once or twice each season. And the construction of a new facility, priced between $75 million and $100 million, isn't feasible, Rochon said.

What it seems to boil down to is that they will have to remove 68 trees to continue the expantion. The Als have promised to replace them all and more but the tree huggers are not happy

Can you believe it!

i’ve read, the trees that are going to be removed are all diseased anyways…and the Als are replacing them, AND adding more…

this expansion project should be approved by the public!

is the official announcement tomorrow?

It is simple for every tree cut down they plant three!

I am sure it will be but the fact that they are having a hearing about is ridiculous, but like it was mentioned mentioned it is democracy

u shoulda went, ro…just to make sure sanity prevails.

red They have promised to plant more but they never said the ratio.
I think you have to live in that burrough. Not sure thought

Yes try and do something and sure enough those granola eating tree hungers show up.

What you do is put an ad in the paper for a meeting on herbiside clean up out side the city. That will draw most of them away from the meeting. Or tell them there is a Star Trek marathon on TV. That will do it!

Dont they realise that granola has feeling too!

Ha ha ha Save the Granola! Or tell them you will replace beer with the sale of granola bars spiked of course!

I knew they wouldn't be able to survive long term at Molson, and I doubt that if they get this new upgrades they would be able to survive long term after that.

I suggest that when the club and city can do it, they should build a new 30,000 seat stadium that can be expanded to 40,000 if need be, I wouldn't be too difficult to get corporate support to help with the funding as well, the sooner they get plans for one and get the ball rolling on it, the better.

ya ya ya

Read this part again.

Playing fulltime at Olympic Stadium isn't an option, he added, since 25 per cent of the team's 17,400 season subscribers don't purchase tickets when the Als play there once or twice each season. And the construction of a new facility, priced between $75 million and $100 million, isn't feasible, Rochon said.

$2.5 million extra profit in the CFL makes or breaks a franchise. With 17,400 season ticket holders (and more in the wings) Montreal will easily sell out every game and here is one CFL fan hoping Montreal gets the go ahead on this project.

I havent heard the out come of the event yet but I am sure it will pass and the city can pretty much do what it wants

I'm sure that a 30,000 new stadium isn't going to coast 75 million, and the Al's wouldn't pay all of it, they would have help from the City and corporate sponsors.

and if you build a Winnipeg Stadium (or Ivon Wayne) like building correctly, it can last 50 years, as the stadiums mentioned have.

Let's see Quebec prove that they are a football province, and put their money where their mouth is!

Then how much is a 30,000 seat stadium going to cost?

$75 million is in the range(and, personally, I would think a bit low).

You're in construction, are you K-KBBAP? 75-100 mil for a stadium isn't out of the ballpark.....

Well, if it's that much, which is less than they have been putting in to fix the Big O, which should be turned into some other type of landmark after the 2008 GC, it would be cut down by donations by the city and corporations., who do have some money, which they used to fix the Big O. Don't tell me that they can't come up with some millions to build a new stadium for the Al's.

That site that the Expos were going to build a new stadium would do, if it hasn't be sold already.

Labatt Park

Montreal, Quebec
Tenant: Montreal Expos (NL)
Opening: Undetermined
Status: Never built
Style: Open air
Surface: Grass
Capacity: 36,287 (2,090 right-field bleacher seats could be added)

Architect: AXOR Group; Provencher Roy & Associés Architects
Construction: AXOR Group
Owner: City of Montreal
Cost: $200 million1
Public financing: $100 million1 from debt offering
Private financing: $100 million1 (½ from the Expos, ½ from advance ticket sales)
Lease: Market-value lease of no less than 40 years

Location: Two blocks south of the Molson Centre. Left field (N), Rue St. Jacques; third base (W), Rue de la Montagne; first base (S), Rue Notre Dame; right field (E), Rue Peel

Dimensions: n/a

Fences: 8 feet

On February 8, 2000 new team owner Jeffrey Loria presented the last plan for a new Expos ballpark in downtown Montreal. The $200 million project was significantly less expensive than a previous proposal which called for a retractable roof. The plan was submitted to the city's Executive Committee so it could be examined by the City Council's Urban Development Commission. The Expos would then have had to enter into a lease with Canada Lands, and finalize the project's financing. The team intended to start construction in the spring of 2000 in order to open the 2002 season in the new ballpark.

The model introduced to the media was a departure from recent ballparks built for MLB teams. There would be no retro-style brick facades or sharp angles. The new stadium was oval in shape and a transparent exterior glass wall was planned to follow the stadium's curve and to surround its steel frame. This would allow spectators to witness activity in the neighbouring streets and public squares. The wall would also reflect the surrounding scenery (sky, trees, etc.) during the day, while at night it would reveal outside activity in the surrounding neighborhood. It offered many views from the outside to the inside and its design promised a sense of closeness and intimacy.

The stadium would have been built using the "design-build" method with the AXOR Group acting as designer and general contractor. They were the builders of the Du Maurier Tennis Stadium at Jarry Park. AXOR would have been working with the architectural firm of Provencher Roy & Associés Architects. The facility would have been located on the parcel of land bordered by Peel Street to the east, de la Montagne to the west, Saint-Jacques to the north and Notre-Dame to the south.

The east side of Peel Street would have provided the link between the stadium and the commercial and human activity of the downtown area: offices, restaurants and public squares. The main entrance would have been on Peel. The other two entrances would have been located on Saint-Jacques and de la Montagne Streets. On the west side, the public space converted into a park would have preserved the residential character of the neighborhood.

On May 28, 1998, the Expos announced a twenty year sponsorship agreement with the Labatt Brewing Company. The agreement required Labatt to pay the Expos $100 million over a twenty year period beginning in 2001. Labatt would have payed $40 million for naming rights to the proposed stadium and about $60 million to be the team's main sponsor. Some doubt had been cast over that deal because early in 2000 the team was sold and a new, less expensive ballpark was proposed. Although the Expos and Labatt confirmed the sponsorship deal on March 29, 2000, it ultimately fell through.

The Expos were sold to the other 29 Major League Baseball teams in 2002 and Jeffrey Loria bought the Florida Marlins. Finally, on September 29, 2004, the team announced they were moving to Washington, DC.

Ballpark Features:

64 corporate boxes.
Two dugout loges at field level with a capacity of 18 seats each.
257 seat exclusive club at field level, between dugouts.
Party Room located behind right field fence at field level.

$27M is peanuts to ensure the viability of the team.....what is up with city councils in quebec.....first that moron in qc and now this in this the separtist factor at work...get rid of anything canadian.....pathetic.....

You are sure??? $75 million is on the very low side. The Big Owe cost $1.5 BILLION!

A basic stadium may seem like a simple thing but the reality is that there is a lot to building one of these and getting it all decked out with concession equipment, trons,parking lots, etc. At current construction cost I would say $100 million or more!

Edit: Just saw your post about the Expo park for $200 Million. What makes you think a football stadium would be any cheaper? And do you have any idea what has happened to constuction costs since 2000. One project I am involved with has jumped from $15 million 2 years ago to around $40 million today!

As for corporate support, the reality is that most of the money would have to come from the taxpayers! The Canucks rink in Vancouver is one of the few major sports facilities built in Canada with primarily private money and that facility has a far better multi use that a football stadium.

The $100 million over 20 years from Labbats would be nice, but contractors are funny that way, they like to be paid when they do the job which would mean some sort of project financing meaning that $5 million a year would get eaten up in intrest charges very fast!

Hopefully this expansion will be approved. It seems the people who live in the area near the stadium are more approachable than the folk who live in the Glebe area in Ottawa where I've heard that the faster Frank Clair Stadium comes down, the better.

Montreal is doing the right thing here, expanding what has to be in my opinion one of the nicest stadium locales in the country with Mont Royal in the background on the McGill campus. Absolutely gorgeous on TV from what I have seen and the fans are flocking to it. You don't just uproot this success to a newer stadium without a lot of thought and deliberation, which should take many years. In the meantime, do a workable expansion on the model of success.
Smart people there in Montreal I will say.