Maple Leaf Gardens inhaled in a youthful dose of mouth to mouth on Monday with the unveiling of Ryerson University’s new athletic and recreational facility. The $60-million Mattamy Athletic Centre emerged in style complete with dancing red flames and an appearance by Canadian celebrity, Prime Minister Stephan Harper.
The arena that once housed legends of the game, took its first lively breath since 1999 when then current tenants, the Toronto Maple Leafs, packed up and moved to the flashy Air Canada Centre leaving the Gardens garbed in black. According to Ryerson University President, Sheldon Levy, the new ‘look’ on Carlton Street has finally “turned the lights back on”.
Boasting a 2620-seat hockey arena upstairs and a 1000-seat court for volleyball and basketball below, the Mattamy Athletic Centre is just the revitalizing face-lift the nostalgic Toronto monument needed. The project came to fruition thanks to a $20-million dollar levy approved by Ryerson students, $5-million from downstairs neighbours, Loblaws, $15-million from Peter Gilgan’s company, Mattamy Homes, and an additional $20 million in government funding.
The new community-friendly Gardens is not only the sole survivor of the Original Six Arenas; it is also the only one available for public skate. Maple Leaf Gardens, deemed by many a hockey shrine, has not pulsated with such exuberance since opening its doors in 1931 and Ryerson University’s 2012 relic revamping represents a perfect partnership between past and future Hall of Famers.

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