Ryerson’s Rams are finally getting a new arena just a few blocks from campus, as the federal government kicks in $20 million to revamp Maple Leaf Gardens. The historic arena was purchased by grocer Loblaw Companies Ltd. in 2004 but has remained largely unused for various operational reasons. The arena will reopen in 2011.
The Gardens will be home to a grocery store on the first floor, with an athletic facility occupying the second. The top floor will largely be dedicated to a hockey arena, the same size as the original, and with the capacity to host 5,000 fans. Volleyball and basketball will also be played on the third floor, the Globe and Mail reported.
Earlier this year, Ryerson students voted to pay an extra $126 per year in athletic fees for new facilities that will help fund Ryerson’s portion of the deal, also $20 million. The remaining third of the $60 million project will be raised through donations. A $5 million donation has already come from Loblaw’s Weston family.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Transport and Infrastructure Minister John Baird, Ryerson president Sheldon Levy and Loblaws chairman Galen Weston all made the announcement jointly.
Maple Leaf Gardens opened in 1931, hosting its first Maple Leaf game on Nov. 12 that year, when the Maple Leafs lost 2-1 to the Chicago Blackhawks. Loblaws has said it will maintain the existing facades of the arena, as well as existing rooflines “with the majority of development taking place within the building’s interior.”
This story has been updated
With files from the Canadian Press