Maple Leaf Gardens

At the corner of Carleton and Church Streets is one of Canada’s national treasures, the Maple Leaf Gardens. For almost 68 years, the Gardens, as it was known, hosted a variety of events and was the home of one of the "Original Six" hockey teams, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

60 Carlton Street - Toronto, ON, Canada

Date Built: 1931
Constuction Cost: 1.5 Million(CAN $)
Capasity Seating: 15,837 (1931 capacity: 13,542)
Held the most incredible sports attendance record of any in the world: From 1946-1990 there wasn't an unsold seat in the arena during Leafs Games.

Maple Leaf Gardens history

First regular-season game: Nov. 12, 1931, 2-1 loss to the Blackhawks
First Stanley Cup finals game: April 9, 1932, 6-4 over the Rangers
April 9, 1932: Led by Ace Bailey, King Clancy and Harvey "Busher" Jackson, the Maple Leafs win their first Stanley Cup by beating the Rangers 6-4.
Feb. 7, 1976: Darryl Sitler sets an NHL record with 10 points in a game -- six goals and four assists -- leading the Leafs to an 11-4 victory over Boston.
LAST game at Maple Leaf Gardens: February 13, 1999 vs the Chicago Blackhawks

Maple Leaf GardensMaple Leaf Gardens

As the last surviving edifice from the days of Hockey's "Original Six," Maple Leaf Gardens, is an historical shrine in the city of Toronto and in the world of hockey. Built in 1931 with Conn Smythe's leadership and influence, the Gardens was an architectural wonder of its time, being built in less than six months. On opening night, seat prices ranged from $.95 to $2.95 - a far cry from the inflated prices people currently pay to see the Leafs play. Since then it has seen 11 Stanley Cup victories by the Leafs and has played host to some of the world's biggest music acts. Whole generations of Toronto teenagers have seen their first concert and their best concerts at the Gardens. The Gardens has demonstrated its multi-use capability since its completion. Many activities held here over the years includes: track and field, speed skating, boxing, wrestling, political meetings and church services.

If you really want to get a taste of this city's history, step through the entrance at 60 Carlton and behold the pictures that adorn the walls of this exalted arena. Names like King Clancy, Turk Broda, Punch Imlach, Dave Keon, Darryl Sittler and Doug Gilmour are forever etched in its hallowed halls. The Gardens did stage the first ever NBA game, and Ali, Schmeling, Patterson and Louis all fought here.

Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe persuaded large local businesses such as Eaton's (department store) and Sun Life Assurance, to invest in the venture. Eaton's eventually agreed to sell the plot of land on which the Gardens now stands to Smythe's group for $350,000.

Construction costs were minimized as a result of agreements made with labour unions to provide the workers with Gardens' stock in place of a portion (20%) of their regular earnings. Material cost 20 to 30% less than the pre-depression period due to extremely low demand.

On April 1st, 1931, demolition began at the corner of Church and Carlton streets. Over 1,200 labourers were employed on the project. The 350ft by 282ft (106m by 86m) building extended thirteen stories (40m) above street level.

Opening night, November 12, 1931, saw the Maple Leafs lose 2-1 to the Chicago Black Hawks. The Gardens originally included a six-lane bowling alley, a billiards room and a gymnasium. These areas were transformed over the years into carpenter and electrician workshops and storage areas. Seating capacity was steadily increased to 15,646 after various renovations over the years.

The last Leafs game was played Feb 13, 1999. It now sits empty and abandoned on Carlton Street. The seats and other interior fixtures were sold off two years ago and now it is only occasionally. Both Cher and the Rolling Stones have used it recently for preparation for their concert tours. The plan to sell it to a large supermarket chain here fell through in the winter of 2003 and it's future is very uncertain. There are many developers who would love to tear it down and build condo apartments. There is a campaign to save it but it's future is very uncertain. Ron Howard bring the movie to the Gardens has been helpful to the campaign to save this important city landmark. Maybe this will mean it can be saved it if could be used for further movie shoots.

Full 8 part series of the closing ceremonies at the Gardens.

The question left is what will happen to the grand old lady now that it is abandoned.

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