By Eyeopener Staff
Ryerson has approached the owners of Maple Leaf Gardens expressing interest in being part of any new developments at the former home for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“The proximity of the site to our campus offers the opportunity to develop facilities that could be of interest such as classroom or residence space and a permanent home for our hockey team,” an E-mail issued Tuesday to Ryerson staff and faculty said.
“We’re looking at my properties in the area,” Ryerson president CLaude Lajeunesse said in an interview. “But there are no negotiations.”
Ryerson director of university planning Paul Stenton wouldn’t comment directly on the school’s interest in Maple Leaf Gardens but he said: “We do need more space. Any initiatives or any options for space are important.”
Ryerson desperately needs more space for both classrooms and student residences. Ryerson, which has 23 buildings spread over 21 acres of land, has only 78.8 per cent of the space it needs, according to a 1996 report from the Council of Ontario Universities. The average in Ontario is 86 per cent.
City councillor Kyle Rae (Downtown) said he’s been getting calls over the past two weeks from consultants, engineers and developers looking to bid on the Gardens site, which was put up for sale in September.
He said the owners, Steve Stavro and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, gave developers six months to come up with a solid proposal for the site and they have two months left to bid.
“[The owners] want to get out of the building by the end of the year,” he said, adding Ryerson would fit in well with any potential development.
“It would be great to see Ryerson there,” he said. “If there’s a developer who’s interested in maintaining the rink, it would be great to keep it in the city.”
Rams hockey coach Louie Carnevale said he would love to see his team get a home rink so close to school. “To have a permanent facility like that would help draw athletes to the school,” said Carnevale, who only heard about the possible development when he read the E-mail.
THe Rams practise at the Gardens four to five days a week, but they play home games at St. Michael’s Arena at Bathurst Street and St. Clair Avenue West.
Other Ryerson teams would also be able to use the facility, Carnevale said, like figure skating.