My memory is faulty. The U20 is now going to be played at Molson Stadium, right? Smith takes stadium expansion plans public By BILL BEACON http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Football/CFL/Montreal/2006/06/13/1630623-cp.html MONTREAL (CP) - Larry Smith told business leaders Tuesday that the planned expansion of Percival Molson Stadium will be good for everyone, not just the Montreal Alouettes. The team's president said in an address to the Montreal Board of Trade that adding 5,000 seats to the Canadian Football League's smallest stadium is necessary to keep the club in business. And he said it will help stop soil erosion and improve "biodiversity" around the stadium on Mount Royal, the lush park overlooking downtown Montreal that is fiercely defended by environmentalists. "We see this as an opportunity for Montreal," Smith said. His address came as the project enters a key phase - public consultations on how it would effect the mountain park and the residential neighbourhood around the stadium. If it gets the nod from city hall and $23 million in government backing plus $4 million from private sources by September, construction of a new deck on the south grandstands and extra seats in the east end zone could begin this winter. http://www.norrlimited.com/education5.asp The new seats would raise seating capacity to about 25,000 and bring in about $2.5 million per year. Without the extra cash, the team will eventually go out of business, he warned. "That's not a threat, that's reality," he said. Playing at 81-year-old Molson Stadium, where every game has been sold out since 1999, has been central to the Alouettes success since they were forced out of the cavernous dome of Olympic Stadium by a U2 concert for a playoff game. Fans like the tranquil atmosphere on the mountainside on summer evenings and views of downtown buildings from the north side grandstands and don't seem to mind that there's no parking and the seats are aluminium benches. But with only 20,202 seats, owners Bob and Lisa Wetenhall say they have lost money despite the league's highest ticket prices and having, by Smith's estimate, three times as much sponsorship and corporate support than any of the other seven clubs. Returning to Olympic Stadium is out of the question, Smith said. That leaves finding a way to bend some city by-laws and expand Percival Molson. The Alouettes plan calls for 68 trees to be cut down, but Smith said they are mostly non-native species in poor health and they would be replaced by 160 new trees, plus 500 bushes. The trees, which would largely conceal the stadium from view, would help stop soil erosion, Smith said. A new entrance on the east side would draw crowds off from residential streets to a main thoroughfare, Park Avenue, he added. The Alouettes completed an initial renovation of the stadium in 2003 for $13.5 million, which included rebuilding crumbling grandstands and installing new washrooms and lighting but adding only 200 new seats. That was paid mostly with grants from three levels of government, but Smith said the team cannot fund expansion on its own because the building is owned and controlled by McGill University. Still, the team paid $1.2 million to install a medium-sized video screen this season. Smith estimated the team and its owners will have put more than $6 million into it when the proposed expansion is completed.