Graduating in the Gardens

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When Maple Leaf Gardens opens next year, Ryerson students will don basketball shorts, hockey jerseys and perhaps graduation gowns. Ryerson President Sheldon Levy said the university is in the early stages of exploring the possibility of using the arena as a venue for convocation, among other events. While the logistics of such an event are still up in the air, Levy said the Gardens could be used as a way to allow students to bring more friends and family to graduation. “You might be able to think about if you can do two convocations simultaneously — one at the Gardens and one there [at the current venue],” said Levy. Right now, convocation takes place at the Ryerson Theatre. Each graduating student is only allowed two seats out of the 1,200 that fit in the venue. Typically, that means 300 to 400 guests per ceremony. Ryerson also accommodates extra guests with an offsite viewing area in the Podium building. If there are spare seats in the theatre, they are offered a spot inside. However, Ann Mackay, manager of Ryerson’s convocation and awards office, said additional space isn’t necessarily advantageous. Having more students graduating at once would add half an hour to ceremonies that already last one and a half hours. Architect Chris O’Reilly of BBB Architects, the firm designing the interior of the Gardens, said ceremonies like convocation could happen if Ryerson purchases temporary flooring used to cover rinks — like when the Air Canada Centre’s ice is covered with a basketball court for Raptors games. As a hockey fan, Kevin Doody said he’s already excited to have the landmark as part of Ryerson. “It’d be really cool because it’s a historic downtown location and graduation is a historic thing for a student, so the two would go hand in hand,” said the first-year business student.

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