Maple Leaf Gardens, opened in 1931 and was home to Toronto’s hockey club for nearly seven decades until its retirement in 1999. The arena is referred to as shrine by the National Hockey League, however its history lies beyond more than just hockey.
While fans did get to witness eight Stanley Cup banners rise to the rafters, spectators were also able to witness major historical events, such as Muhammad Ali’s 15-round victory over George Chuvalo and Sir Winston Churchill’s 1932 speech surrounding strengthening the British Empire. After the Maple Leafs relocated to the then-called Air Canada Centre just before the twenty-first century, the building has taken on many roles.
Toronto Metropolitan University (formally known as Ryerson University) has utilized its second floor to develop an athletic centre, Loblaws has taken over the first floor for retail purposes and contains a reduced-capacity arena with a fully functional rink on the third floor.
Despite the rich history of exciting experiences the arena has provided fans with throughout the decades, Maple Leaf Gardens was at the centre of controversy following its retirement in the late nineties. Gordon Stuckless, a former equipment manager at the arena, was pled guilty to sexually assaulting 24 boys in 1997 and faced up to 100 new charges in 2013 and remained in prison from 2016 until his death in 2020.
Painful legacy aside, Maple Leaf Gardens has stood in the heart of Toronto for decades and still proves to be a popular attraction for citizens alike.
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