Last week, Maple Leaf Gardens quietly turned 76.
When the Gardens was sold to Loblaw in 2004, it appeared that the grocery store chain would fast-track the historic building into a supermarket. Now the projected summer 2007 construction date has come and gone, and nothing has changed since Torontoist covered the Gardens’ 75th anniversary.
We worried that the Gardens would be neglected while Loblaw dealt with its financial woes and ailing restructuring of existing stores, so we called Loblaw’s customer relations department to get an update. A rep told us that the plans for the Gardens store are complete. Construction is to start within a year (although we’ve heard that before) and completion will be “soon.” However, Loblaw doesn’t want to rush the process, because the company wants to “get it right.” Loblaw wants the Gardens to be the “best superstore ever.” (Note the small “s.” When we asked if the Gardens would become one of the company’s Real Canadian Superstores, the rep quickly backtracked and said there was no confirmation of the name for the store yet.)
Although getting information from Loblaw was as easy as calling them, a website with frequent updates on the project should have been up since day one. (Or one of those newfangled blog things.)
Built in 1931, the Gardens was not only home to the Leafs, but also hosted the Metropolitan Opera, Fats Domino and Frankie Avalon. It will be a shame if Loblaw fails to honour its history and significance. (We can’t muster the same warm feelings for the Air Canada Centre or the
Skydome Rogers Centre.) Hopefully, Loblaw will find a better way to celebrate the Gardens’s 77th anniversary.
Photo from the City of Toronto Archives.