MLSE, Ryerson square off over Maple Leaf Gardens name
Maple Leaf Gardens is once again the site of a battle as its former owners and a local university square off over naming rights to the storied building.
Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) and Ryerson University are debating whether the university is allowed to use "Maple Leaf Gardens" the name of the former home of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team.
According to court filings, the company has demanded that the university stop using the name in reference to the building at 60 Carlton Street.
It also suggests that it fears the university's plans to include a 2,500-seat venue, which includes an ice surface, could compete with the Air Canada Centre — its present home — for entertainment dollars.
More than a year ago, Loblaw Companies, which bought the site in 2004 for $12 million, and Ryerson said they reached a deal to re-develop the building which first opened in 1930.
Under the deal, the main floor would be transformed into a grocery store, while the upper storeys would house an athletic centre, basketball court and a 2,500-seat arena. The store is set to open in the fall with the sports and entertainment venue set to open early in 2012.
The MLSE sports empire, which owns the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC and a number of other properties, says use of the name infringes on its trademark.
But Ryerson's acting president, Julia Hanigsberg, said there are no plans to call the arena Maple Leaf Gardens. Instead she said the refurbished building would be the Ryerson University Athletics and Recreation Centre.
"We are really very confident that we will be able to work out a deal with Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment. We are talking with them and have been for a while and those conversations are ongoing," she said.
"Whatever other details need to be worked out I'm sure MLSE will be able to work with us to come to a resolution that meets all of our needs."
MLSE was not immediately available for comment.