The Dump and Chase: 07/29/2011

Whatever you do, don’t call Maple Leaf Gardens by its given name of Maple Leaf Gardens. By now you’ve probably caught wind of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment pursuing an injunction over Ryerson University’s plans to call its newly renovated arena by the only name its ever known. Alas, the Toronto Maple Leafs bloodless owner fears that the new 2,500 seat home of the Ryerson Rams poses some sort of threat to its own Air Canada Centre which, for reasons practically unfathomable, has forced the bully to demand a historical landmark be stripped of its name.

While it’s completely understandable that one entity would serve to protect its own investment, there’s also the common sense argument. Could a 2,500 seat venue that intends to house the lowly Rams and play home for mid-sized concerts really impose a serious threat to the great ACC? Hardly. And what for “Canada’s team” wanting to maintain a sense of its own history?

Neate Sager at Buzzing The Net on MLSE’s strong-arm tactics:

Far be it say the historic building cannot not be called Maple Leaf Gardens. The name is so ubiquitous in Canadian culture that it likely defies trademarking. For instance, another downtown Toronto landmark, the Eaton Centre, is still known by that name even though Eaton’s is no more, because people realize the historical significance. Farther be it to wonder why MLSE waited this long to lawyer up. The complex, which was green-lit in late 2009, is on track to open this fall, although the finishing touches won’t be made on the 2,500-seat arena that will house Ontario University Athletics’ Ryerson Rams likely won’t be made until after Jan. 1, 2012. Farthest be it to wonder at the hypocrisy of MLSE committing an affront to the Leafs’ history.

Coach Graham Wise’s men’s team and the first-year women’s hockey Rams under new coach Lisa Jordan will hopefully develop a decent fan base now that they’re finally playing on campus instead of renting time at an off-campus city rink. Even the biggest university sports lover, though, will concede neither CIS hockey or basketball is truly formidable competition for MLSE’s marketing might. The same likely holds for any concerts arena manager Global Spectrum would stage. The arena will hold just 2,500 to the Air Canada Centre’s 19,800.

Maple Leaf Gardens sat empty and rotting for nearly a decade before Ryerson and its co-owner, Loblaw Properties, swooped in and elected to put some work into the shrine and maintain its status of arena. It could have been a grocery store, or worse: face demolition someday. They say ‘what’s in a name’? Well, history for one thing. History is something that has always mattered to the storied Maple Leafs hockey franchise.

Hopefully MLSE will back away from its hard stance and realize that there’s no imminent threat from the renovated arena bearing the words ‘Maple Leaf’. Let it serve as a reminder of the last time the Leafs were a Stanley Cup winner or played home to most of the franchise’s greatest players.


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