By Sean Wetselaar
The leadership race for the provincial Liberals will culminate on Ryerson’s campus in January as the party leadership convention will be held at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC).
The decision, announced Sunday, was reached by the Liberals after a request for proposals was issued on Oct. 22. Global Spectrum, the group in charge of facilities at the MAC filed their proposal on Oct. 24, based largely on a decision by the school that the event would bring much-needed media attention to the MAC.
“We felt it was the kind of event[that] would benefit the venue,” said Keith Baulk, general manager of the MAC. “It brings [high] profile and national attention [to the MAC].” Ryerson President, Sheldon Levy, noted that Maple Leaf Gardens has a long history of political conventions
– including one which first elected former Premier Dalton Mc Guinty, as well as events featuring Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Winston Churchill.
“In keeping with the spirit and the history of The Gardens, to have a major political convention there is quite appropriate,” Levy said.
“On top of it having students who will be part of that process and the education that will come with it … will be very good.” Though no concrete plans have been made for the convention, Levy said the event would likely occupy most of the building’s facilities.
Baulk said the MAC was a good fit, that had benefits to both parties, but that Global Spectrum was excited to have been awarded the event against stiff competition from venues across the province.
“We were thrilled,” Baulk said.
“We think it’s one of those venues that … also brings confidence and, ultimately, other business.” Levy added that the primary benefit of the event was publicity.
“Certainly, in all respects [it] will improve, I hope, the university’s reputation,” he said. “But it’s keeping with the history of the place too and I think that’s important.” Despite Ryerson’s desire to host the event, Levy said the venue was not offered at a discount price.
Delegates from across the province are expected to attend, and the registration fee for those attending has been set to $499.