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The Day in Sports | COUNTDOWN TO 2000 / A day-by-day
recap of some of the most important sports moments
of the 20th Century: MAY 12, 1970

In Retrospect, Montreal Was No Big Winner

May 12, 1999|EARL GUSTKEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The headline said it all:

"Sacre Bleu! Montreal Pulls an Olympian Upset."

And now it can be told: Los Angeles can be blamed for that $970-million white elephant of a stadium built in part for the 1976 Olympic Games.

In the years leading up to this date 29 years ago, Los Angeles made a major effort to acquire the 1976 Olympics, under the leadership of John B. Kilroy.

Montreal was awarded the Games because the International Olympic Committee couldn't decide between bids of two Cold War superpowers, the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

On the second round of voting at Amsterdam, Los Angeles threw its support to Montreal and its 41-vote tally on the second round meant a Canadian Olympics . . . and a stadium tax burden Canadians shoulder to this day.

Originally, the stadium had a roof suspended by cables from a nearby tower. It was years before the roof could be raised or lowered properly. And in 1991 it failed and couldn't be raised or lowered.

Stadium officials decided to replace it, and a new retractable roof was installed after the last baseball season, at a cost of $25.6 million. Then, last Jan. 18, part of the roof collapsed under the weight of snow and ice.

Polls show significant numbers of Montreal citizens believe it's time to tear down the most visible remnant of the '76 Games.

But there's even bad news in doing that. Cost of demolition: At least $3 million.

Also on this date: On the same day, the Cubs' Ernie Banks, 39, hit his 500th home run, becoming the ninth major leaguer to reach that total. . . . In 1923, future USC football All-American Mort Kaer of Red Bluff broke two state records in the California state track meet, breaking the long jump mark by nearly a foot with a 23-2 3/4 effort, then broke the state 220 hurdles record by half a second, in 24.9.

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