The Montreal Impact's much anticipated entrance to MLS won't go exactly as planned. The Impact will make the jump to the top league in the U.S. and Canada for the 2012 season and were supposed to have begun work on the expansion at Saputo Stadium that will take it from 13,000 seats to 20,000 seats, but that hasn't happened yet. As a result, the stadium will not be ready in time for the beginning of the 2012 MLS season and the Impact will have to play some of their home games at Montreal's Olympic Stadium.
According to club president Joey Saputo, the initial bidding process came back with costs well above the $23 million the club received in government funding for the project. The Impact are now hoping to have the stadium done by next summer, about halfway through the MLS season.
"The cost was globally too high," Saputo said in a statement. "It is not a question for us to exceed the total public money awarded for the expansion project. We have worked hard over the last few weeks with the different people involved to find solutions to expand our stadium to 20,000 seats, under a roof, while respecting the initial budget."
"We had the option to start the season on the road or to look for an alternative," Saputo added. "We prefer to play a few matches at Olympic Stadium. We want all games to be an event, especially our first game in MLS in Montreal."
Olympic Stadium was built for the 1972 Olympics, but it became a financial drain for the city and wasn't paid off until 2006. It was supposed to be a retractable roof stadium, but it never worked and has just become a domed stadium, meaning that the Impact will play on turf as opposed to the natural grass at Saputo Stadium. Because it was also home to the Montreal Expos before they moved, the sightlines aren't ideal for soccer. It holds 66,308 people, although it is unclear how many of those will be sold for the Impact matches.