Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Automotive Stadium

The Automotive Stadium (commonly known by its french name Autostade) was a 25,000 seat outdoor structure built for Expo 67 by the Motor Vehicles Association of Canada. Completed in 1966 and located near Place d'Accueil, the 366,100 square foot stadium was a joint effort by Ford, Chrysler, Volvo, American Motors, and General Motors.

The Autostade was made up of 19 pre-cast, seat supporting units which rested on pre-stressed columns and beams. Each of the 19 units sloped up from ground level, creating the effect of a bowl, designed to give each spectator a good view from anywhere in the stadium.

Other features of the Autostade included: parking for 11,000 cars, large administration offices, a press room, radio and television booths seating 60 people, a special lounge for dignitaries, storage and dressing spaces, as well as washrooms and concession stands located on the concourse level under the stands.

The stadium's modular design meant it could be easily dismantled after Expo and reassembled elsewhere. A Montréal '66 article stated that it could even be "enlarged to seat 75,000, which would make it by far Canada's largest stadium"...

Six large scale events were held at the Autostade during Expo 67:

Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus
(May 16-21, 23-28)
Mammoth outdoor circus that featured the world's greatest performers. Highlights included a succession of hair-raising and death defying stunts.

Canadian Armed Forces Tatoo
(June 19-22 and June 25 to July 4)
The greatest event of its kind ever staged by Canada's Armed Forces. Specially produced for Expo and in honor of Canada's Centennial Year, it told the military story of the nation while looking towards the future.

Flying Colors
(July 11-30)
Maurice Chevalier in Flying Colors was conceived and produced by Leon Leonidoff, famed producer of shows for Radio City Music Hall. It was heralded as "the largest of all the Stadium spectaculars... certain to be one of Expo 67's major highlights".

La Gendarmerie Française
(August 21 to 27, August 29 to September 4 and September 6-9)
La Gendarmerie, a force with a history that went back to the 15th century, put on this spectacular for the first time in North America. The cast for the spectacle included 700 men, 130 horses, 40 motorcycles and 25 jeeps.

World Horse Spectacular
(September 17 to October 1)
Colorful, exciting and unusual horse acts from many countries were included, with Canada represented by the famed musical ride of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Great Western Rodeo
(October 6 to 15)

This spectacular represented an outstanding aspect of the Western scene, and an activity which in most parts of the world was regarded as typically Canadian. The Expo Rodeo would compare with the finest events of its kind ever seen on the continent.

images: (1)
(3) personal collection

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