"This is more than a great day. It is a decisive moment in Ryerson's history, a true game-changer for our students and the return of Maple Leaf Gardens to Toronto."The only question is how big this news is, honestly. Ryerson will be going from playing in a nondescript gym and an off-off-campus hockey arena to playing in the arena once described as Canada's most famous place of worship. It is worth noting the hockey rink will be on the second level, so the Rams won't actually skate on the same ice surface the Leafs did from 1931-99.
Ryerson president Sheldon Levy
More details from the announcement:
This new, multi-functional athletic and recreational centre will supplement Ryerson University’s current 20-year-old, athletic facility that has not kept up with the growth of the university. The new centre at Maple Leaf Gardens will add nearly 150,000 square feet of sports and recreation space on the upper floors of the building. It will be accessible by both Ryerson's students and the local community. Plans for the facility will include:There are a ton of details to be worked out:
- An NHL-sized skating rink;
- A four-lane, 200-metre running track;
- Basketball and volleyball courts with telescoping bleachers with more than 1,200 seats
- Studios, a fitness centre, and a high performance gym
- Academic space and more.
"Starting tomorrow, Mr. Weston said, contractors will begin excavating a parking garage under the existing floor of the Gardens. The current rink surface, along with restaurant and player areas around it, become a 70,000 square-foot supermarket ...There is bound to be a lot of speculation (there already has been) and people are going to scream "corporate welfare" (they would prefer a historic building was left to rot?). Five thousand seats is also optimal for events such as a CIS basketball championship, or a Canada Basketball event.
" 'It’ll be a difficult and complex problem,' he said. 'That’s why we have to get the backhoes in here this afternoon.'
"Contractors will build a ceiling above the ice surface, bisecting the Gardens horizontally -- which becomes the floor of the new home of the Ryerson Rams hockey team: an NHL-sized skating rink. The 150,000 square foot Ryerson facility will also boast a four-lane, 200-metre running track, basketball and volleyball courts and a gym."
Ryerson is a relatively young university and this is a great leap in its development. Meantime, it could be a golden opportunity to push CIS a little more into the sporting consciousness of the influential GTA media, where a lot of the movers and shakers are Rye grads.
Hockey in store for Gardens as Ryerson strikes deal; After $60-million renovation, university will share revered building with Loblaw, putting ice pad on top, grocery store on bottom (Elizabeth Church, Globe & Mail)
New Maple Leaf Gardens to house Ryerson and Loblaws (Sun Media)
Ottawa puts up to $20M into the Gardens (Kathleen Harris, Sun Media)
Maple Leaf Gardens to be remade into Ryerson athletics centre, Loblaws store (Julianna Cummins, National Post)