A comeback for the Gardens, a win for the community

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By Amanda Cupido

The Golden Griddle across the street from Maple Leaf Gardens used to have a dinner rush and a line-up out the door.

“It was crazy when the Gardens was open,” said Jasmine Dick, assistant manager. “It’s so sad seeing it shut down like this.”

Business isn’t great at Golden Griddle these days, but if the Gardens were to reopen it might go back to the way it used to be. “It would mean more hours and better tips,” said Dick. “And it would give lots of people jobs.”

“Maple Leaf Gardens is an icon in the city,” said Bob Rae, MP for Toronto Centre. “It has been empty for a number of years now. An athletics facility would be a great use for it.”

George Smitherman, Deputy Premier, agrees it would be an “enormous boost” for the city to have it open again.

“As a potential father-to-be, it’d also be great to take my kids ice-skating there,” he said.

Other kids within the city would benefit as well. Paul Lewicki, historian and ice co-ordinator for the Toronto Marlboros hockey club, said that Toronto has limited ice space in the downtown core.

“We are dying for more ice,” he said. “And when you put the history into it, it would be a treat.”

Lewicki said that the Marlboros started practising at the Gardens since the day it opened and remembers his teams getting off the ice as the Toronto Maple Leafs got on. “It used to be quite a home for us,” said Lewicki. “We don’t have that advantage anymore.”

While working in the Golden Griddle, Dick sees people taking pictures in front of the Gardens all the time. “We get tourists coming in and asking us what it used to be and what it’s being turned into,” said Dick. “We have no answers but it would be nice to have answers.”

These answers may be coming sooner than she thinks. —With files from Carys Mills and Vanessa Greco

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