The Olympic Stadium in Montreal didn't turn out as well as many had hoped. The costs weren't even payed off until 2006. (AP)

The Olympic Stadium in Montreal didn't turn out as well as many had hoped. The costs weren't even payed off until 2006. (AP)

If all goes according to plan with the Olympic Stadium in London, the city will avoid comparison with perhaps the most hideous stadium failure in modern Olympics history: the centerpiece of the 1976 Games in Montreal.

When that stadium was in the planning stages, then-International Olympic President Rogi Rousseau’s projections were rosy:

“The 1976 Olympic Games will be self-financing, without adding in any way to the Canadian taxpayer’s burden. Without any special subsidy of any type whatsoever.”

It didn’t work out that way. The Olympic Stadium’s cost overruns were spectacularly excessive. Over the years, the building required numerous expensive repairs. The people of Montreal didn’t finish paying the bill, which climbed over $1 billion, until 2006, by which time the building had been without a regular tenant for two years. It still doesn’t have one. According to Sara McIntryre of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, the only solace for citizens of Montreal was that Olympic Stadium earned a darkly-amusing nickname:

“It’s affectionately called “The Big O,” and that’s not just the letter — it’s “OWE” for taxpayers. It was originally built to have a retractable dome roof. The design was flawed, the materials were flawed. So it’s really turned into a big headache and a big drain for taxpayers.”