Maple Leaf Square has officially opened its doors to public.
Many team fans and regular customers at the place enjoyed the party that Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment offered for the grand opening on Wednesday in downtown Toronto.
MLSE president and CEO, Richard Peddle, and Toronto Maple Leafs’ General Manager Brian Burke, unveiled the plaque during the two-hour ceremony that concluded with a reception in the main floor of the complex.
Toronto’s legends Darryl Sittler and Wendel Clark participated in an autograph session at the end of the event where many followers had the chance to take pictures and talk to the former hockey stars.
The $500 million development project offers two condo towers, office space, a hotel, a team apparel store, an acclaimed sports bar, a restaurant and a grocery store. It shares its footprint with Air Canada Centre, and has become an entertainment district for sports fans.
‘High marks’ for Burke
The “Party in the Square” festivities came as a part of a multi-day celebration of Maple Leaf Square and also the start of the 2010-11 Leafs’ regular season.
Toronto will host the Montreal Canadiens in its opener Thursday with Burke, who received support from Peddie.
“I absolutely love the job Brian Burke has done,” Peddie said prior to the event. “He set about changing the culture of the team.
“I’ve never seen a GM that had a really clear vision of what kind of team he wanted. I’ve worked with seven of them, which might say something about the longevity of GMs at our place, but he’s got this clear, clear vision.”
The President and CEO of MLSE also admitted the results have not been the optimal but he still evaluated Burke’s job with a good mark.
“Did we finish 29th? Was that not good? Absolutely, but I love where he’s at now, what he’s done, so high, high marks to Brian Burke from my perspective.”
Contrary to this opinion was Burke who graded his own work as “poor.”
“We finished 29th, I don’t know how I can give myself anything other than a poor grade,” Burke said.
“You’re dealing with sophisticated sports fans in Toronto. You better be honest. We haven’t had any success; hopefully it starts (Thursday) night.”