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Ryerson working with Loblaws on Gardens reno: Report

Ryerson University and the Loblaws chain of grocery stores have both confirmed that they are in talks to re-develop Maple Leaf Gardens, says a Toronto Star report.

The proposed partnership with Ryerson would combine a Loblaws location and a sports centre for the Rams hockey and other athletic teams.

When Loblaw Cos. Ltd bought the former home of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2004, they announced plans to transform the arena into a supermarket.

Currently, the Rams play at George Bell Arena near St. Clair Ave. W. and Runnymede Road. The Gardens are just a few blocks from Ryerson’s downtown campus.

Students at the school voted in overwhelming support of a new athletic centre earlier this year. The March referendum saw 75 per cent of students agree to put $126 of their annual fees to the project.

The school’s current sports complex is located under Ryerson’s historic courtyard and does not include an ice rink.

For this new development plan to work, extensive renovations would have to be made to the aging hockey shrine, according to the Star. Most of the building was gutted after the Maple Leafs moved to the Air Canada Centre in 1999.

There are few seats remaining in the stands and the cooling pipes required to maintain the ice have been plugged.

When Loblaws began work on the facility they found that the seating structure was embedded in the building’s outer walls and worked as an internal buttress system that supported the external façade, the Toronto Star reported earlier this year.

In April, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation announced they would use the hockey palace for their new series Battle of the Blades.

The show will have former NHLers competing in pairs figure skating with Olympians led by Jamie Sale and Shae-Lynn Bourne. Former Leafs Tie Domi, Glenn Anderson and Lanny McDonald have already agreed to participate.

Organizers will use technology from the NHL’s outdoor games to create the ice for the series. All 14 episodes will be shot in front of an audience of 3,000 fans sitting on the remaining seats in the lower bowl or on new bleachers installed for the event.