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MLSEL Announces Conditional Sale Of Gardens

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

(October 21, 2003) -- Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd. (MLSEL) announced Tuesday the conditional sale of Maple Leaf Gardens to Loblaw Properties Limited, a subsidiary of Loblaw Companies Limited, Canada's largest food distributor. The sale of Maple Leaf Gardens is expected to close early in 2004 with the store set to open in 2005, subject to municipal approvals.

The grocery chain plans to build a Loblaws combination food and non food market with other retail within the existing interior of Maple Leaf Gardens that will include areas dedicated to the building's history and a retail outlet that will sell Maple Leaf memorabilia and merchandise.

The Gardens will remain mostly intact on the outside.

"Our goal has always been to sell the Gardens to a buyer that would respect the history and heritage of the building, said Bob Hunter, senior vice-president and general manager of MLSEL. "Loblaws is a great Canadian company responsible for developing first-class grocery stores. They also have experience in redeveloping inner city sites while retaining the integrity and heritage of the property."

Over the last four years, MLSEL has worked extensively with potential buyers to try and develop a commercial and residential property that would retain a 2000 seat arena that could potentially serve as the Leafs training facility. However, it did not prove to be commercially viable.

"One of our primary objectives has been to sell the Gardens to a developer that would have a positive impact on the community and would help generate economic growth for local businesses in the area," Hunter added. "We believe Loblaws will benefit the residents of the downtown core."

The Gardens has been closed since the Leafs relocated to the Air Canada Centre in February of 1999.

Loblaws will maintain the existing façades on Carlton and Church and the existing rooflines with the majority of development taking place within the building's interior. Some alterations will be necessary to the Wood Street façade to accommodate delivery docks and parking access.

We're excited to be acquiring Maple Leaf Gardens which is a revered landmark that is a part of both hockey and Canadian history," said Geoffrey Wilson, vice-president, industry and investor relations, Loblaw Companies Limited. "We're committed to continuing to celebrate the venue as the former home of sports heroes and Stanley Cup winning teams."

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