By News Editors Rebecca Burton and Sean Tepper
Ryerson’s new athletic centre will add Peter Gilgan, founder and CEO of Mattamy Homes, to its title after his donation of $15 million towards the new facilities.
In an announcement at the Gardens on Nov. 29, President Sheldon Levy revealed that the working title for the new centre will be “The Peter Gilgan Athletic Centre at the Gardens.” The full-sized ice rink will also honour its title sponsor with the name “Mattamy Home Ice.”
“This is not an everyday project, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to reuse an amazing facility,” said Gilgan. “This building is the second most historically significant building in all of Canada next to the parliament buildings and to be supportive in preserving that building and converting it into an amazing reuse that harkens back to its past purpose is an amazing legacy to be involved with.”
Two of Gilgan’s children are graduates of Ryerson and two more are current students.
“We are witnessing history brick by brick as Maple Leaf Gardens transforms into a modern athletics facility,” said John Carmichael, member of parliament for Don Valley West, who was there on behalf of the Government of Canada.
The project came in with a $60 million price tag that was achieved through a federal government infrastructure grant, a levy from Ryerson students and corporate donations, such as co-owner Loblaws.
The name of the title sponsor had been kept under wraps for many months leading up to the projected spring 2012 opening.
“Our intramural programs were overflowing and some of our varsity hockey players were traveling over 45 minutes to practice and to compete,” said Carli Yim, captain of the Ryerson’s women’s volleyball team. “Now we will have a home.”
Ryerson has severely lacked athletic space in the past, but the new facilities will allow students to practice on home soil. Currently both men’s and women’s hockey teams have been practicing in the George Bell Arena in the city’s west end.
“Right now we are gone from school and we are unable to do any school work from about 2-7 p.m. everyday with the travel and then practice,” said Andrew Buck, third-year left winger for the men’s hockey team. “Just having those extra two to three hours that you’re not traveling will really help.”
Projected to be opened to students by February 2012, Ivan Joseph, Ryerson’s Director of Athletics, believes that the university will be able to fairly compete with some of Ontario’s premiere university athletics programs.
“We’ve been one of the few teams that hasn’t had a home, and so it just levels the playing field and gives us the opportunity not just for the athletes but for all of our students to have a place to gather,” he said.
Loblaws urban grocery store which occupies the first and part of the second floor of the facilities is set to open on Nov. 30. Soon after a 4,000 square feet LCBO will open Dec. 7.
Up until this point, the name was released as “The Ryerson Athletic Centre at the Gardens,” after a dispute with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) over the use of “Maple Leaf.” The former owners of the Gardens, MLSE, were worried that Ryerson would use it’s established brand to help them compete with their larger sporting facilities to host sporting events and concerts. Ryerson, Loblaws, and MLSE continue in talks over the use of the name.
“We are not branding it Maple Leaf GArdens, but the building is Maple Leaf Gardes,” said Levy. “At the end of the day it won’t be what I want people to say, it will be what the people want to say and they will determine whatever they want [to use].”