Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Maple Leaf Gardens Gutted

I spent the past weekend in Ontario visiting family and made my usual pilgrammage to downtown Toronto. Everytime in the city I trek over to Maple Leaf Gardens just to have a look.
Knowing full well that the building is being renovated by Loblaws and Ryerson University I was still surprised by what I saw. The entire street level of the Gardens is boarded up like any other construction site, but I found my way to the only opening. Near the back corner of the building on Church and Wood St. there is a large truck bay that was fully open to view with a couple of security guys on guard. From here one can see clear through to the other walls of the building which had been stripped clear of any signs of seating from the ground to the ceiling.
Thanks to the website blogTO.com we can see that very view (I had forgotten my camera that day).
You can see the angled remnants of the upper grey seating at the far corner. The concrete and steel of the stands have been removed all the way back to the outer wall. The scoreboard has been covered and raised close to the roof to be used in the smaller third floor rink.

What follows is the process that got to the arena to it's current point. The first photo below is from Jan. 2010 and shows the crews beginning to pick away at the seating area. We can see clear into the concourse of the old arena, the very spot where I bought my hot dog and program some thirty years ago.

Below is from March 2010 and shows how the North and South end stands have been removed at this point.

The next photo is from Aug 2010 and nicely shows how the building has been stripped down to it's shell and is merely an indoor construction site. Around the back of the Gardens on Wood St, many of the iconic yellow bricks of the exterior have been removed and stacked in piles for re-use. These were kept behind fencing and away from the likes of souvenir hunters like myself. A brick from the Gardens sure would have looked good in my den. I did however manage to find a few small pieces of these bricks laying around nearby and they'll do just fine.
One area I was able to access during my urban exploring was the small alley on the West side of the Gardens. From the back of the building, behind a portable construction trailer the narrow alley was open and unattended and I stood there looking all the way out to Carlton St. Usually gated, this five foot gap between the Gardens and the hotel beside it was strewn with other pieces of the gutted Gardens. I stood at the opening, leery to enter too deep and risk trespassing. Close to me there was some of the metal window frames from a few of the tall narrow windows like the ones seen in the photo above. If there was any piece of them smaller than the three or four feet they were, I would have grabbed one for my den as well.

Below is what the rink will look like when opened by March of next year. The original roof will be impressively displayed closer to the new ice surface some three stories above the old floor.

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