Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Maple Leaf Gardens
Maple Leaf Gardens is an indoor arena in Toronto, Ontario, on the northwest corner of Carlton Street and Church Street. One of the temples of ice hockey, it was home to the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1931-1999. It was also home to the Toronto Toros of the WHA from 1974-1976, the Toronto Marlboros of the OHL (junior hockey ), and the Toronto Huskies in their single season in the NBA. The Toronto Raptors played a handful of games at the arena each from 1995-1999 (mostly when SkyDome was unavailable), and the Buffalo Braves played a few home games each year at the arena as well.
The Gardens was built by Leafs owner Conn Smythe in a five-month period during 1931-32, at a cost of C$1.5 million. At the time, the arena sat about 12,000. Over the years, as the Leafs became a Toronto institution, Smythe and Harold Ballard, who later owned the team and arena, conspired to put additional seats in almost anywhere they could be fit - and probably a few where they shouldn't have - building 85 luxury suites and adding balconies above the stands at the end of the ice sheet. Ballard also eliminated some of the Gardens more unusual features, including the gondola from which Foster Hewitt regularly broadcast games across Canada (the gondola was unceremoniously thrown in a Gardens incinerator). When it was closed, the stadium sat 15,847. The Leafs were so popular that the team sold out every single game from 1946-1999, an unmatched feat in professional sports. It was often called "The Carlton Street Cashbox" in sports reporting.
The Leafs did not initially intend to leave the arena when the Air Canada Centre was under construction. Indeed, the ACC was initially intended to be built for basketball only, and it had to be retrofitted before it ever opened when the Leafs acquired the Toronto Raptors and the decision was made not to maintain two arenas.
Maple Leaf Gardens has been mostly dormant since the ACC opened up, though it has hosted a few ice hockey and indoor lacrosse matches. Plans were hatched in 2003 to convert the arena into a city market, but these had to be dropped when it became known that such a plan would require removing the seating - which was found to be what was holding the roof up.
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