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Air Canada Centre Recognizes 10 Years Of Excellence

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
Air Canada Centre is celebrating - 10 years of excellence. Air Canada Centre opened its doors in February 1999 and quickly established itself as a landmark venue in Toronto and gained recognition as one of the top sports and entertainment venues in the world.

Since opening, the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto Rock and headline concerts has hosted more than 26.8 million fans at close to 2,000 events.

Air Canada Centre will recognize its milestone anniversary Saturday, February 21 when the Leafs host the Vancouver Canucks, and then again Sunday, February 22 when the Raptors host the New York Knicks.

There will be a number of fan appreciation initiatives during both games including giveaways of 10 Air Canada flights for two, Sony products, tickets and much more.

In addition, the first 10,000 fans at the Leafs game will receive a special Air Canada Centre 10th Anniversary touque and upon exit all Leafs fans will receive an Air Canada luggage tag.

“It’s hard to believe that 10 years have passed since we first opened our doors and what an amazing decade it has been with 26.8 million guests and more than 2,000 events,” said Bob Hunter, executive vice-president of venues and entertainment. “Our anniversary celebrations this weekend will focus on thanking our fans for their tremendous support towards making Air Canada Centre the successful venue it is today.”

Air Canada Centre has hosted some of music’s greatest performers including Barbara Streisand, the Rolling Stones, U2 and Madonna. The venue has consistently remained among the top arenas in the world recognized with more than 25 industry awards that range from Canadian Major Facility of the Year, the U.S. based Facilities & Event Management Magazine’s Prime Site Award, the Wine Spectator, VQA Restaurant and Tourism Toronto’s Jeff Adams Access Award of Excellence. Last month, Air Canada Centre was ranked as one of the top five venues worldwide by Pollstar, Billboard and Venues Today magazines, an honour it has held on multiple occasions.

Earlier this month Air Canada Centre opened its doors to close to 2,000 sports fans and concert enthusiasts for a free public skate as a thank you to Toronto for 10 successful years.

Each year between $5 and $10 million dollars is invested in upgrading Air Canada Centre to ensure the arena remains state-of-the-art. Over the years, Air Canada Centre has added an interactive Leafs TV and Raptors NBA TV broadcast studio at Gate 1, the addition of multiple Light Emitting Diode (LED) screens with brighter colours, resolution and graphics situated throughout the bowl, diverse concession food offerings and extensive renovations to two of its restaurants, Air Canada Club and Platinum Club, and most recently installed a Rogers 40’ digital high-definition video board.

Air Canada Centre’s West Plaza is presently a buzz with activity as construction has begun on an arena expansion. Construction will be complete in September 2009 and includes large new entry points into the building, an expanded retail area, more concession stands and a new multi-level atrium.

Maple Leaf Square, a sports and entertainment development , is also presently under construction with completion slated for May 2010. Maple Leaf Square, which supports downtown development and city building will feature two condominium towers, a boutique hotel, extensive retail offerings, two restaurants and a public square that serves as a public gathering place. Maple Leaf Square will connect to Air Canada Centre by a covered glass bridge.

Leafs and Raptors fans looking to relive some past memories can tune into Leafs TV and Raptors NBA TV The show reflects back on the events and moments of Air Canada Centre's first 10 years, as well as look forward to the next 10 years including a behind the scenes look at the venue’s expansion. Hosted by Andi Petrillo, the show will feature interviews with venue and team executives, as well as Leafs and Raptors players.

The special program titled Air Canada Centre's 10th Anniversary Special will air on Raptors NBA TV at 7:30 p.m. ET, again on Saturday, February 21 at 11 a.m., 6:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. and then on Sunday, February 22 at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., all times eastern standard. The anniversary special will air on Leafs TV on Friday, February 20 at 8 p.m., on Saturday February 21 at 1:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. and on Sunday, February 22 at 10 p.m., all times eastern standard.

Fans can catch the first Raptors game played at Air Canada Centre versus the Vancouver Grizzlies. At 6:30 p.m. on Friday, February 20 and at midnight eastern time on Saturday, February 21.

The Leafs’ first game at Air Canada Centre versus the Montreal Canadiens will air Friday, February 20 at 7:30 p.m. ET and again on Saturday, February 21 at 1 a.m. ET.

In recognition of Air Canada Centre’s 10th Anniversary a list of the top 10 events to take place on its rink, court and stage was recently identified.

1. LEAFS OPENING NIGHT – February 20, 1999 – Steve Thomas’ Overtime Goal (Leafs vs. Canadiens)

2. RAPTORS OPENING NIGHT – February 21, 1999 – (Raptors vs. Grizzlies)

3. ROLLING STONES CONCERT – February 25, 1999

4. LEAFS VS OTTAWA GAME 7 – May 14, 2002 (Semi-Conference Finals). Leafs win 3-0 and move on to the Conference Finals.

5. RAPTORS VS. NEW YORK KNICKS – May 2, 2001 – Game 4 – First Round of Playoffs. Toronto went on to win the series in five games.

6. World Cup of Hockey Final
– September 13, 2004 – Canada vs. Finland

7. Celine Dion concert – largest concert ever held at Air Canada Centre. Attendance: 22,109. September 17, 1999

8. Public Skate during NHL Lockout
(February 2004). More than 5,000 fans attended and skated on Air Canada Centre’s ice.

9. NHL All-Star Game in 2000

10. Four Sold Out U2 Concerts in September 2005

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