With their two professional sports teams looking at brighter futures thanks to off-season changes in both the Toronto Maple Leafs' and Toronto Raptors' front offices, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. has turned its attention to Air Canada Centre, where over $5 million in renovations will give sports fans and concert-goers an even brighter experience at Canada's premier entertainment venue.
The most noticeable upgrade at Air Canada Centre this fall will be the new Light Emitting Diode (LED) signage system that will encompass the lower bowl along the facing of the arena's upper deck. The LED's long, thin screen will provide clear, colourful and creative graphics that will significantly improve the entertainment experience. This technology has proved highly popular in the limited number of arenas across North America in which it has been installed.
"The LED system will not only enhance the overall appearance of our arena, but will also add another dimension to the game's presentation and entertainment value," said Bob Hunter, senior vice-president and general manager of Air Canada Centre. "Our fans expect the best of comfort and game experience, and this state-of-the-art animation graphics system will surely make their experience at Air Canada Centre more enjoyable."
Other improvements at Air Canada Centre include a remodeled Fan Zone, a new concert bowl curtain, refurbished seats, new food and beverage items and upgrades to the Air Canada Club seating area and group suites.
"The upgrades in the Fan Zone, seating area and club entrance were designed to enhance the event experience for fans of all ages," said Hunter. "We're proud that Air Canada Centre is recognized throughout North America as one of the finest venues for hockey, basketball and concerts. We're making this investment to ensure our fans will enjoy the best experience possible."
The Fan Zone, located at the building's north end Gate 1 entrance, will see renovations that include the addition of interactive games such as air hockey, bubble hockey, super-shot basketball and more. The new curtain system that has been installed will now offer concert-goers a more intimate look and feel when the venue is set up to accommodate concerts in the 8500 to 10,000 range in attendance.
Over $300,000 has been spent re-covering sections of seats in the arena. This is the first stage of a three-year project to replace all seat and back covers in the arena. The reupholstered seats will improve the comfort level with a softer fabric that can be easily cleaned.
Unique to Air Canada Centre are the group suites, located in a press box-style gondola opposite the Foster Hewitt Media Gondola. These group suites have received significant renovations including new, fixed seating, bar stool seating, better lighting and new glass frontage which will offer a better view of the playing surfaces and stage setups.
All renovations will be in place in time for the Maple Leafs' regular season home-opener when Toronto hosts the Montreal Canadiens on October 11.
Air Canada Centre opened in February 1999 as home to the Maple Leafs, Raptors, Toronto Rock and world class events. Air Canada Centre has been named the Canadian Music Industry's Major Venue of the Year for four consecutive years, hosting over 200 events annually.