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Taxpayer group wants to see the numbers behind Quebec's decision to replace Big O roof

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The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) is questioning the Quebec government's plans to spend $870 million for a new roof over Montreal's Olympic Stadium and is demanding more transparency from the province's tourism minister. 

A spokesperson for the group says if the government wants the public to believe that spending $870 million of taxpayers money on an empty stadium will double its economic benefits and triple its revenues, it wants to see the numbers to back that up.

Quebec estimates a new roof for the stadium will generate economic benefits of $150 million a year, up from $68 million. The province also argues it makes more sense to spend $870 million to replace the roof, rather than to spend even more money -- $2 billion -- to demolish the stadium.

But recent media reports have called that $2 billion figure into question, with experts pointing to other major North American stadiums being torn down for a fraction of that amount.

In a press release issued Monday, the CTF pointed to the Robert Kennedy Memorial Stadium in Washington D.C. and the Yankee Stadium in New York City, that were each dismantled for less than $25 million dollars. The federation says if the estimated cost of demolishing the Big O is being called into question, then the government's estimated projections for the benefits of replacing the roof should be under scrutiny as well -- especially in the current economic context.

"I think in this current economy, following the recent announcement from the local government saying that we would be facing a bigger deficit than what was expected before, I think it's really a call from us and another citizen groups in Quebec that spending such an amount of money on a roof or a stadium that has no sports team whatsoever playing in it, this is really not what taxpayers want," said Nicolas Gagnon, Quebec director of the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation in an interview.

"They want relief, they want better management of public finances and when it comes to a stadium or to anything like that we would actually expect more involvement form the private sector to make this less of a burden for taxpayers."

CTV News reached out to Tourism Minister Caroline Proulx for comment on Monday. A spokesperson for her office said that she will likely be reacting to the criticism Tuesday in Quebec City as MNAs are back for a new week at the National Assembly.

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