Today Toronto blog BlogTO took a look at the renovations that are going on at Maple Leafs Gardens in downtown Toronto. The building, which hasn’t been used regularly in a decade, is being transformed into a Loblaws grocery store and an ice rink and recreation facility for nearby Ryerson University.
The results look promising.
It will certainly be exciting to see a hockey game take place in the Gardens again, even if it’s in a new, smaller arena that is located in the third floor of the building. While it will certainly be weird to shop for groceries where Sittler, Keon, Salming, Clark and Gilmour once skated, the fact that the building is being reused rather than being torn down or left to rot is positive.
In Montreal, the legendary Forum has met a similar fate, but without the ice rink. It is currently known as the Pepsi Forum (Forum Pepsi in French) and it is home to an AMC movie theatre, a Future Shop and numerous other stores. The building pays tribute to the past with the Legends of the Forum section as well as numerous features that honour the Canadiens. Centre ice has been recreated inside the building, but the building’s exterior looks almost completely different.
As for the other “Original Six” arenas, Boston Garden, Chicago Stadium & the Detroit Olympia have all been torn down. The current Madison Square Garden is fourth building to have that name. This version was built in 1968. Madison Square Garden 3, where the Rangers played from 1926-1968, has been demolished.
The current MSG is the oldest arena in the NHL and it is undergoing extensive renovations to update the building.
While not a Original Six arena, the Civic/Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh was the oldest arena in the NHL when the Penguins moved out at the end of the 2010 season. It is currently set to be torn down.
After Madison Square Garden, Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island is the second-oldest building in the league. It was opened in 1972. Rexall Place in Edmonton is the third-oldest (opened in 1974) and Joe Louis Arena in Detroit is fourth. It opened in 1979.
It seems that all of those arenas will be renovated extensively or replaced in the future. Getting the funding and the rights to build a new arena is always difficult, but having an up-to-date arena is vital to generate money in today’s NHL.
While many teams are waiting to have new or renovated arenas to play in, the City of Toronto will soon get a new hockey rink at an old address.
The renovated Maple Leafs Gardens is scheduled to open in the fall of 2011, but plans to do so will likely be delayed. Ryerson University also plans to sell the arena’s naming rights, so the building will not be called “Maple Leafs Gardens” when it reopens. However, it won’t be called “Tim Hortons Gardens” either.