Here's how Scotiabank Arena looked last time Toronto Maple Leafs won a series
The Toronto Maple Leafs have a chance to finally break an almost two-decade curse on Thursday if the team manages to emerge victorious from game 5 of its first-round playoff series versus the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Scotiabank Arena and Maple Leaf Square are set to be lively for the potential series-clinching home game as fans hope to see the Buds win their first playoff series in 19 years.
But 19 years is a heck of a long time to go without a series win, and much has happened in the world — and the immediate vicinity of the team's home ice — in the span since the Leafs vanquished a foe on the ultimate stage.
Television personality and former sports commentator Sid Siexeiro shared an aerial view of how the Scotiabank Arena — then known as the Air Canada Centre — appeared the last time the Leafs clinched a series, and man, does this picture ever underscore just how long fans have been waiting for a big W.
Last time the Leafs won a playoff series Scotiabank Arena was surrounded by parking lots instead of buildings. pic.twitter.com/hnb30SDgjI— Sid Seixeiro (@Sid_Seixeiro) April 27, 2023
Let's travel back in time to the distant year of 2004. There was no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or even YouTube. Netflix was a mail-order service, and Toronto was on the rebound from what — at the time — felt like an era-defining global health crisis in the now-forgettable SARS outbreak.
The first iPhone was still ~3 years from being released— Jeff Stokley (@JeffStokley) April 27, 2023
The Air Canada Centre was only five years old, and the area around it was a spare, barren landscape of parking lots that looks almost unrecognizable from the vibrant condo and office tower-packed blocks that surround the venue today.
That picture just broke my brain lol— amos ainger (@amosainger) April 27, 2023
Most conspicuously absent in the aerial is the bustling public square west of the arena, the eponymous Maple Leaf Square in a mixed-use complex of the same name that completed in 2011.
By the mid-2000s, the winds of change had begun to sweep over the area, and for a brief period, Bremner Boulevard's final approach to the arena was a strange causeway of road surrounded on both sides by deep excavation pits for the Telus House and Maple Leaf Square developments.
Additional condos and office towers would rise in the surrounding blocks over the subsequent decade, creating the dense urban environment fans now associate with a trip to see the Leafs or Raptors.
The Leafs could finally achieve something in this building tonight after a painfully long drought. If that fails, who knows what kind of futuristic Blade Runner world could exist around the arena by the time the next opportunity to break the curse rolls around.
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