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Montreal to scrap fabric roof

MONTREAL OLYMPIC stadium operator RIO is pressing ahead with plans to scrap the 26 year old structure's controversial tensile fabric roof in favour of a more reliable design.

So far the operator has received more than 15 expressions of interest from firms hoping to rid the stadium of its long-standing roof problems under a proposed 15 year build, own, operate and transfer contract.

'We need a roof which can cope with our northern climate and doesn't need to be heated or have men with shovels clearing it every time it snows, ' a RIO spokeswoman told NCEI:

'That's what we asked for last time, but we didn't get it.'

Three years ago the current tensile fabric roof, which was supplied by Millennium Dome roofing contractor Birdair, ripped after meltwater from the first blizzard of the winter ponded.

This roof was a replacement for the original retractable Kevlar version that had a history of leaks and rarely worked as intended.

Birdair has since repaired the damage and had proposed to install permanent heating elements to prevent a repeat of the ponding. But this has now been rejected by RIO, which is currently suing Birdair for in excess of US$39M in compensation for the problems.

It is likely that the high-tech fabric will be replaced by a more conventional roof design, but officially RIO is open minded.

'We are prepared to consider all options, including alternative tensile fabric designs and even opening roofs, ' a spokeswoman said.

'We hope to have a new roof by 2005 that will be safe, weatherproof and last for a long time.'

The stadium was built for the 1976 winter Olympics but the original roof, with its distinctive sloping suspension tower, was not completed until after the Games.

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