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The new Maple Leaf Gardens takes shape

Posted by Derek Flack / July 18, 2011

Maple Leaf Gardens RenovationsRenovations at Maple Leaf Gardens have come a long way since our last check up in January of this year. At that time it was just becoming possible to get a sense of how the cavernous space was being divided up for its eventual use as Loblaws grocery store and a Ryerson hockey rink / athletic facility. Still, considerable imagination was required to picture what the building — and particularly the rink area — might look like when it was all said and done.

As these most recent photos demonstrate, that's no longer the case. While there is much work left to do, the overall layout of the elevated rink has taken its final shape, right down to the foundations for the stands that will surround the ice pad. With the elimination of the acoustic baffles from the ceiling, it's even more cathedral-like than it was when last in use. Also noteworthy is the additional natural light that will make its way into the building via the newly replaced windows.

The fact that there will be small sections of balcony seating at each end of the ice is also a nice touch from a historical perspective. Watching a hockey game (or other event) here will definitely recall the old days, which I wasn't so sure of based solely on the renderings. It still seems like a long shot that the facility will be ready for fall 2011, but it's nice to get a good look at what they've been up to for all those months behind closed doors.

See also:


Maple Leaf Gardens MakeoverCross-section of the project for reference

Maple Leaf Gardens RenovationsMaple Leaf Gardens RenovationsMaple Leaf Gardens RenovationsMaple Leaf Gardens RenovationsMaple Leaf Gardens RenovationsMaple Leaf Gardens RenovationsMaple Leaf Gardens RenovationsMaple Leaf Gardens RenovationsMaple Leaf Gardens Renovations

Slideshow (with additional photos):

Thanks to Flickr user landon alger is real for sharing these shots with us



Interesting / July 18, 2011 at 10:50 am
I thought this was supposed to be finished earlier this spring (that's what they said last year). It doesn't look anywhere close to completion.
Craig replying to a comment from Interesting / July 18, 2011 at 10:58 am
Renovations to older buildings never finish on time, something unexpected always pops up to screw up the schedule.
AV replying to a comment from Craig / July 18, 2011 at 11:23 am
So, knowing this, should the timeline have not been adjusted in the first place accordingly?

I feel like we just accept over-runs and BS project timelines in Toronto because we've become apathetic to forcing change in the way we do business, with contractors for example
Interesting / July 18, 2011 at 11:33 am
I can't think of another industry where you can be constantly behind schedule and still get away with it. I understand older buildings are a little more cumbersome to renovate/rebuild, but this should have been factored in from the beginning. Those poor Ryerson hockey players are probably dying to hit the ice there!
Craig / July 18, 2011 at 11:56 am
It's impossible to factor in what the delay could be. It could be that they found an underground stream running through the basement and had to deal with it, it could be that the columns are not where the drawings show them. You can see that these are significantly different problems, one could take months to address the other could take days. Sometimes you don't find the problem until you are half-way through the project.

The problem is you can only investigate so much before you start a reno like this, you pick a few random locations, see what you can find and assume the rest is the same. To investigate every square metre of the building would take longer than the current delay.
Seats / July 18, 2011 at 11:59 am
Does anyone know if the remaining Gardens seats will go on sale to the public?
clowns / July 18, 2011 at 11:59 am
Obviously none of you except for Craig have a clue about renovations to older buildings.

You can't factor in time for things you don't know about, fools.

Old buildings reveal problems as you go.

Mark / July 18, 2011 at 11:59 am
Cool everyone! Lets complain about them building something awesome!
If it was completed early, all you fools would of complained about that too.
Nick / July 18, 2011 at 12:00 pm
I hate this story, and this website, and Ryerson, and Loblaws, and I'm just generally feeling punchy today and I don't envy the first person to get in the way of my fist's building momentum, but... the new elevated rink looks AWESOME.
akswun / July 18, 2011 at 12:23 pm
Looks good. Finally they've made some headway. Kinda miss this building but it is really really old. I remember going there in the summer and how sweltering hot it is in there.

And for all the effin' trolls complaining... shaddup! I wish there was a troll filter for the comments.
Interesting / July 18, 2011 at 12:26 pm
Isn't one of the rules of business to under-promise and over-deliver? If they would have set a reasonable deadline and completed it early, everyone would be rejoicing. Why would any business set a deadline knowing they will never be able to meet it? This is rampant in the construction industry. Luckily it seems to be accepted.
Craig replying to a comment from Interesting / July 18, 2011 at 12:47 pm
They may have included a month in their schedule for delays, but what they came across took 2 months to fix. Bang, they are a month behind schedule.

The Contractors' schedule would have been based on their experience with similar projects and information provided by consultants. Based on those assumptions the Contractor have set a realistic deadline.

I'll give you another example: say you want to build a road 1km long. You do a geotechnical investigation, they sample the soil every 100m and provide a report that says that the soil is okay where it was tested. Now constuction begins and you find an underground stream between two test locations. Do you think the Contractor should still have to meet their original deadline? The scope and complexity of the project has changed since it was proposed.

Chester Pape / July 18, 2011 at 01:05 pm
Interesting that after leaving the scoreboard in the eaves just wrapped in orange tarps all through the demolition it has now disappeared, one hopes for offsite preservation.

As far as the schedule you have the combination of a large project that is difficult to plan to begin with, the potential for undiscovered issues and the simple fact that it's not something that's been done hundreds of times before, if you're knocking up houses in subdivisions by the hundred you've got a pretty solid idea of how long that takes because you've done it hundreds or thousands of times, nobody's retrofitted an 80 year old hockey rink into something like this before.

That said frankly the reality is the "delay" probably has nothing to do with any of that, it's much more likely that the flow of work on the job site has ebbed and flowed so that Loblaws can manage the cash flow.

Adam replying to a comment from Mark / July 18, 2011 at 01:29 pm
I know, right? The articles on blogTO are always awesome. The comments-- insane. Why do people love to hate so much?
EricM / July 18, 2011 at 01:45 pm
Looks great! Can't wait for it to finally open. Does anyone know the seating capacity of the news space? lol Almost too nice for Ryerson to play in it. To their credit though, Ryerson has a lot of interesting things on the go we will all benefit from.
Matt replying to a comment from Chester Pape / July 18, 2011 at 01:46 pm
I read somewhere that the original plan was to keep the scoreboard and use it for the "new" arena, but once they started construction, they realized it would be too large for the space. I believe it's been donated to the Hockey Hall of Fame where parts of it will be restored and displayed. Not sure if anyone is able to verify, but that's the dilly from my recollection.
Capacity / July 18, 2011 at 01:47 pm
I heard capacity was 3,000.
JoeParez replying to a comment from Adam / July 18, 2011 at 01:48 pm
Because everyone is a wanna be on blogTO.

A wanna be politician, architect, designer, fashion designer, contractor. Alot of people feel they know everything, then you have a guy like Craig, who schools them all, and the wannabes will STILL think they're wrong.

TFAI / July 18, 2011 at 03:51 pm
Turner Fleischer is the architectural firm behind this project.

Danny J / July 18, 2011 at 04:12 pm
Anyone complaining about it being behind schedule, and immediately blaming the contractor, probably mop floors for a living. The world isn't perfect. Things happen. And besides, this is a PRIVATE VENTURE! It's not like this rink is for you, or that you can't get your groceries at the same place people in the neighbourhood have been doing so for the last, ya know, 81 YEARS. Clowns.
raymi / July 18, 2011 at 04:26 pm
sweet. i've been dying of curiosity regarding MLG's interior. thanks!
foo replying to a comment from Adam / July 18, 2011 at 04:48 pm
Anonymous commenting on the internet invoking hateful speech? Not new.

Folks true colours really shine through sadly.
Aaron replying to a comment from raymi / July 18, 2011 at 05:20 pm
Wow, raymi, I'm impressed. I thought you cared only about your reflection.
Sikandar / July 18, 2011 at 07:51 pm
Pretty amazing that people seem to focus on the delays instead of what an AMAZING JOB they've done with this renovation and re-use. The people of Montreal would shake their heads at the comments in here, after what they've done to the old Montreal Forum. We should be thankful that this was done right. I don't mind waiting another half year for something that will truly honour MLG for decades to come.
Andrew / July 18, 2011 at 08:17 pm
Toronto is sadly known for tearing down a lot of it's historic buildings. At least they kept this Hockey Shrine!! Everyone should be happy. Not many historic sports arena's last forver, I only ever see Wrigley Field and fenway Park as the other exceptions.
Ed / July 19, 2011 at 08:50 am
who is landon alger is real? ha
steve-o / July 19, 2011 at 09:35 am
schedule issues?

TFAI and Buttcon?

Eh, how's that budget working out for ya?
EarthJuice replying to a comment from Nick / July 19, 2011 at 01:02 pm
I hate everybody.

P.S. Can anyone spare 25 cents for a coffee?
EarthJuice / July 19, 2011 at 01:07 pm
When MLSE first had MLG up for sale, they stipulated that the new owners could not use the venue for concerts (as it would compete with ACC/Ricoh). Does anyone know if this new (seemingly very small) arena has that same mandated limitation? This little place might be ideal to see a concert performance.
JohnJohn / July 19, 2011 at 08:55 pm
To the person complaining about the schedule shifting to the right...the original date was a hard-date given by the Federal Government for stimulus projects. That date has since been relaxed, so there is no need to pay OT to meet a deadline which is no longer fixed.

Also, a lot of it comes down to the original negotiations. No one would want to go to Loblaws/Ryerson and say: "This renovation is going to cost you $100M and take 6 years to complete", when they can only account for 60M and 18months. They would never get the job. Once the contractor has the job, it is much easier to talk to each change in the scope of the project.

It is also a lot easier to get two $750,000 changes approved, than it is to get one $1,000,000 change made.
Mia Culprit / July 20, 2011 at 10:31 am
If anyone reading this has anything to do with this space, the roller girls of this city need a place to play our sport for our ever-growing audience. We are subject to wait until the ice melts in hockey arenas, or play in warehouses with polls every ten feet - which if you've seen roller derby, can be dangerous.

This beautiful space would be amazing to watch and play roller derby in. I am sure we could work something out for weekend time with the lovely people of Ryerson and Loblaws, alas all of our pleas to them have been misdirected. If anyone can help me reach the right people who can help us play our sport within these walls, I would be much appreciative.

Gorgeous space, I hope we can find something similar for the women of derby in this city.

-Mia Culprit
dcapo / July 28, 2011 at 09:55 am
These shots are amazing! How did you get in there to take these?? Who can I speak with to take some pics?
Whomever replying to a comment from clowns / August 20, 2011 at 10:28 am
My take is the timing was a financial decision and not one due to these unforseeable problems that us 'fools' ought to understand cause unpredictable delays. The project was announced as being partly funded by the Federal Infrastructure Stimulus Fund, and this money was given on the condition that construction projects would be finished by March 31/11. The first deadline, which was March, never seemed realistic to me. I now see the government has given an extension to October 31/11, just as this deadline is now pushed to Fall or as it has also been stated as "hoping to be done by Thanksgiving". For any work going past the government deadline, costs from then on become the sole responsibility of the "project proponent". Seems to me, the financial folks have had quite a bit of a say.
RobFord replying to a comment from Interesting / September 23, 2011 at 05:53 pm
Nothing done in Canada ever finishes on time... a general rule of thumb would be to double the time frame that was announced.
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