As tennis players prepare for the start of the Rogers Cup tournament this weekend, there’s a debate brewing over plans to make big changes to the IGA stadium, home of the annual Rogers Cup tennis tournament.
Tennis Canada wants to build a $70 million retractable roof over the centre court.
“We’re marking our space here. We want to freeze the status of the tournament for many years,” explains Eugène Lapierre, tournament head and senior vice-president of Tennis Canada.
“We have the vision that in a few years, all the most important events will have a roof.”
Tennis Canada management figures having a roof will help to guarantee that the tournament stays in Montreal, because there’ll be fewer weather interruptions during tennis matches.
Keeping the tournament also means securing the $16 million they say they get yearly from the tournament, which funds the development of the sport across the country.
WATCH: (Aug. 9, 2018) Rogers Cup organizers mull upgrades to Montreal’s IGA stadium
But the stadium sits next to Jarry Park and a residential area, and the Friends of Jarry Park Coalition, a group dedicated to protecting the green space, is opposed to the plan. They argue adding a roof would lead to even more events at the stadium, disturbing the quality of life in the area.
“We’re worried about the fact that there’ll be many events, dragging hundreds, thousands of people in the park causing crowd movement, crowd waiting, queuing all day,” says group spokesperson Michel Lafleur.
He adds that crowds from events already disrupt the peace by littering and making noise
“People park everywhere — on the grass, in the park,” he says. “I mean, we’ve been complaining a lot about it to the borough.”
But Tennis Canada officials claim there doesn’t have to be more events.
“It doesn’t have to change anything,” Lapierre says. “On the contrary: if we want less, it’s very possible. It’s not our business to have more events.”
He stresses that they already use the space for far fewer activities than the city allows.
Lafleur told Global news that he doesn’t want the tennis tournament to end, but he doesn’t want organizers to rush into building a roof, either.
“Why don’t we sort of wait and think a bit and make sure we’re doing something that’s right for Montreal?”
Tennis Canada is hoping to have a roof built in the next four years.