Friday, February 23, 2024

Jack Todd: The Big Owe catastrophe is a con job on Quebec taxpayers

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These things I believe to be true:

Vlad Guerrero Sr. was the greatest natural hitter since Ted Williams.

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One game for all the marbles, I’ll take Patrick Roy.

The only Super Bowl halftime show worth watching is one with marching bands.

Here’s what I don’t believe:

That it would cost $2 billion to demolish the concrete catastrophe that is the Big O.

We’re being flim-flammed — and unless someone puts the brakes on, we’re going to have a billion-dollar roof over an empty stadium. No matter how fervently we wish it, the Expos are not coming back and even if they did, it would be contingent on a real ballpark in a far better location.

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Worse, the planned new roof won’t be the end of the expense. That stadium is nearly 50 years old. Within a decade, maybe less, they’re going to be telling us that we need to spend another billion to renovate the stadium proper, still with no tenant inside.

I know. It’s almost as though the Big Owe was designed to make it impossible to tear down. Pre-stressed concrete, so you can’t just gut the concrete because it would explode. Can’t blow it up because of the métro line underneath and the Biodome next door.

I still don’t believe that New York City could demolish the old Yankee Stadium for $25 million and it would cost 400 times that amount to demolish the Big O, including $80 million (more than three times the cost of demolishing Yankee Stadium) simply to repave the roads around the Big Owe after all those trucks have gone through.

New York budgeted another $25 million for restoration at the Yankee Stadium site, while “minimal site restoration” at the Olympic Stadium site would supposedly cost $168 million. There’s an additional $158 million for “inflation” and on and on it goes.

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Since the moment the stadium was a gleam in the eye of megalomaniac Mayor Jean Drapeau, the city, the province, construction magnates and generations of bureaucrats have been running a long con on the taxpayers. It’s the Vietnam War of municipal mismanagement: “We can’t stop now because we’ve lost too many men already” becomes “we can’t stop now because we’ve spent too much money already.”

Before we shell out nearly a billion dollars to put a new roof over nothing, there has to be a full and transparent report on the real cost of demolishing that monstrosity. Then if the taxpayers still want it, bring in the cranes.

The Deadpool of Dumb: There are moments when it seems that hockey is circling the drain above the Deadpool of Dumb and is about to sink forever.

The latest black eye for the game was Dale Hunter on Pierre Turgeon all over again, the perfect time for George Parros & Co. to lower the boom and hand Morgan Rielly a 20-game suspension.

Rielly’s crack-brained cross-check to Ridly Greig’s head was one of those Deadpool of Dumb moments and Sheldon Keefe’s goofy attempt to justify the assault was another.

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“I thought it was appropriate,” Keefe said after his Leafs had been whupped by Greig’s Senators. “Our players have the right to react.”

React to what, exactly? The big babies didn’t like the way Greig put the puck in the net? Apparently, a slapshot in that situation just won’t do. You’re supposed to gently nudge the puck into the net, then turn around and apologize for having the infernal cheek to beat the Greatest Team in the Universe.

You don’t want an empty-net goal scored on you, Rielly? Fine. Play better.

The lost weekend: Not for the first time, Super Bowl weekend became a black hole for your Montreal Canadiens. Back-to-back losses to a pair of big, tough Central Division bullies were great for Team Tank, not so great for anything else except the rising stock of captain Nick Suzuki and young talent Juraj Slafkovsky.

If you favour the tank, it was mission accomplished. With the losses, the Canadiens are in a good position to be overtaken by the Buffalo Sabres and even the improving Ottawa Senators, who are six points back with four games in hand.

Only the Blue Jackets, Blackhawks, Ducks and Sharks are too far back to “catch,” meaning there is a path to the bottom five for the Habs and a strong position going into the lottery. Not the season we envisioned, perhaps, but another building block for the future.

In further news from the Guerrero family: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. beat the Blue Jays and now they’ll have to pay him a record arbitration settlement of $19.5 million. With that out of the way, the younger and less motivated Guerrero should be able to bear down and really cruise.

Heroes: Patrick Mahomes, Andy Reid, Nick Suzuki, Juraj Slafkovsky, Marc-André Fleury, Marielle Thompson, Summer McIntosh, Nick Taylor &&&& last but not least, the MVP of a mostly dreary NFL season, Taylor Swift.

Zeros: Morgan Rielly, Sheldon Keefe, John Tavares, Sammy Blais, François Legault, Bell Media, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Drake, Tony Romo, Jusuf Nurkic, the Phoenix Open, Claude Brochu, David Samson &&&& last but not least, Jeffrey Loria.

Now and forever.

jacktodd46@yahoo.com

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