Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Big Owe

The most enduring legacy of the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, besides the crumbling architectural embarrassment of Olympic Stadium, has been the $1.5 billion debt that Jean Drapeau swore up and down would never be incurred.

It's been anyone's guess which would disappear first, and surprisingly, it's the debt:

Officials from the Olympic Installations Board, which oversees the stadium, have confirmed that the last payment was made in mid-November, three decades after the world descended on Montreal for the Games.

The astronomical cost included the stadium, the Olympic village, a post-modern apartment building complex, a sports recreation complex, outdoor facilities, parking and the VĂ©lodrome, which has since been refurbished as the Biodome.

Much of the debt was serviced through a special tax on tobacco.

Officials had estimated the debt would be cleared by September 2006, but the smoking ban introduced in May slowed down tobacco sales in the province, according to the Canadian Press.

Two weeks of games, a generation of debt, and Montreal's decline still continues apace.

The Montreal Olympics stand as a reminder that getting the big games or the pro team doesn't bring economic salvation.

Source: CBC

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