Montréal is famous for cute accents, delicious food, and boundless creativity. But the French-Canadian city is also a global icon for hosting sports events. The city was the host of the 1976 Summer Olympics and the home to the most storied team in the history of hockey. But that’s just scratching the surface.
Here are some memorable Montréal moments in sports, and a few details on the venues of where the magic happened.
Not once, not twice… but 24 wins
Montréal’s professional hockey team, the Montréal Canadiens (known affectionately to fans as the “Habs”), is deeply enmeshed in the DNA of the city. The Canadiens are the most storied franchise in the National Hockey League—they’ve won 24 Stanley Cup championships, more than any other team. During their winning streak, they played at an arena called Le Forum, which has been called "the most storied building in hockey history" by Sporting News. These days the Habs play in an arena called the Bell Centre, which has a capacity for upwards of 22,000 spectators and also hosts the biggest entertainers in the world.
Nadia Comăneci’s perfect 10s
There’s plenty of iconic moments (not to mention architectural wonders) from the 1976 Montréal Summer Olympic Games, but none so dear in the hearts of sports fans as Nadia Comăneci’s gasp-worthy perfect 10s. The historic events took place at Le Forum, which is now home to a popular movie theatre—yet is still available for private functions such as cocktail parties and product launches. Clink a cocktail at centre ice? Yes please.
The historic Royals. The iconic Expos.
In the early 1900s, Montréal hosted a minor league team called the Montréal Royals. It was famous for having Jackie Robinson as a player, who went on to become the first African American to play in Major League Baseball. In 1969, the Montréal Expos debuted at the Jarry Park Stadium. They were the first Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise located outside the United States. After almost 3,000 games and a 36-year history in Montréal, the Expos played their final game at the Olympic Stadium, which is the city’s largest venue. While it was a sad day for sports lovers, the Olympic Stadium still plays host to a variety of events.
The Rogers Cup is an annual tennis tournament held in Montréal and Toronto. The men’s and women’s events alternate from year-to-year between the cities. The men's tournament is held in Montréal during odd-numbered years. In even-numbered years, the women take the court. Games take place at Jarry Park Stadium, which has a seating capacity for 28,456 attendees. In 2017, 18-year-old Canadian Denis Shapovalov beat world no. 1 Rafael Nadal at the Rogers Cup, stunning tennis fans the world over. It’s safe to say Nadal was stunned too.
Gilles Villeneuve takes the trophy
The Canadian Grand Prix is an annual auto race held in Montréal at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Notre Dame Island. In 1978, in his first Formula 1 Grand Prix du Canada, local hero Gilles Villeneuve (for whom the track is now named after) pulled ahead of the pack, beating the previous Canadian record of a 10th place finish. These days, event planners can reserve a stunning event space that over looks the race tracks. It’s called Espace Paddock.