Maple Leaf Gardens appears frozen in time
Published Monday, January 29, 2007 7:02PM EST
Eight years since the final game was played at Maple Leaf Gardens the interior of the hockey shrine is both frozen in time and in a state of slow decay.
Toronto's former temple of hockey is a little battered and littered with garbage and dead rodents. The building looks almost as if it was vacated in a hurry, with dishes and glasses left behind in the kitchen and record books collecting dust on office shelves.
It was once a bustling centre for sporting and cultural life in downtown Toronto. But since the last game was played at the Gardens on Feb. 13, 1999, not much has happened there and rumours of a new life for the building have never materialized.
Condominiums were expected, but construction was never started. It has been used by many film production companies to shoot movies, including the Russell Crowe film "Cinderella Man." The interior still sports brown paint from that production.
But 60 Carlton Street, designated a historical landmark in 1974, largely remains untouched and unused. The only plan for Maple Leaf Gardens currently under consideration is a two-storey grocery store with a double-deck parking garage.
Loblaws grocery chain owns the building and their plan would save it from slow decay or the wrecker's ball. But merely converting it to a supermarket is not what many people had in mind for the hockey shrine.
"This building is world-famous, all around the world as an ice hockey rink," John Sewell of the Friends of Maple Leaf Gardens said. "It's the last one of the big-six."
Maple Leaf Gardens' fame is backed-up by Toronto tourism which says that directions to the building are one of the top questions asked by tourists.
More than just keeping the building intact, Sewell suggests Maple Leaf Gardens become a supermarket, but with a functioning ice rink.
"I think the thing to do is keep ice you can play hockey on (and) make that available to Ryerson University, make it available to women's hockey in eastern Canada."
But not much of anything is happening to Maple Leaf Gardens at this time.
Two permits before the city may hold a glimpse into the future. One permit, which has been approved, allows minor demolition inside. The other permit asks to completely gut the Gardens.
While it still seems unclear what will happen, Loblaws told CTV's Tom Hayes that they want to turn it into retail and parking space.
Meanwhile, many people wonder what will happen to much of the hockey memorabilia still inside if the plan goes ahead.
With a report from CTV's Tom Hayes