Tending Toronto’s Gardens

A historic Toronto venue that has sat mostly vacant for the past decade will get a second act as a multi-use sports and recreation facility for the city’s Ryerson University following a $60 million upgrade.

Plans for the nearly 80-year-old Maple Leaf Gardens include a new 150,000-square-foot athletic and recreation center, lounge areas, NHL-size ice rink and a new seating layout based on the concept of the venue’s original lower bowl, according to the Globe and Mail. The building’s iconic cathedral-like dome is also to remain as a dominant feature of the updated building.

Lower levels of the Gardens will include a supermarket and retail space.

The city’s BBB Architects and Stadium Consultants International, which are involved in renovations at Madison Square Garden in New York City, have signed on for the big-budget makeover.

BBB partner Chris O’Reilly noted that the firm is committed to modernizing the facility while preserving its historic look.

“This is a unique opportunity to create an exciting multi-use sports and recreation facility for the university and, at the same time, celebrate the heritage of one of the most iconic arenas in the world,” he said in a statement.

Funding for the development will come from the government, Ryerson and a joint fundraising campaign between the school and Loblaw Supermarkets, the statement said.

Maple Leaf Gardens housed the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs for more than 65 years. The last concert at the venue was a 2008 benefit for charity ONEXONE.