Former Leafs captains Darryl Sittler, Rick Vaive, Wendel Clark and Doug Gilmour joined a prominent group of community leaders Wednesday at the ground breaking ceremony for the new Lakeshore Lions Arena, a community facility that will benefit youth hockey in Toronto.
Accessible to minor and amateur hockey teams, the 260,000 square foot facility is the first arena to be built in Toronto in 25 years. It replaces the existing single-pad Lakeshore Lions Arena, opened and operated by the Lions Club in 1951. The Lions Club will also operate the new facility.
The new Lakeshore Lions Arena will be the future practice facility for the Toronto Maple Leafs and its American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate the Toronto Marlies. Construction is scheduled to be completed by September 2009 in time for Leafs training camp.
Hockey Canada will operate their Ontario Regional Offices from the new facility and use the Olympic-sized pad for training and development of Canada’s national teams. Another partner, the Hockey Hall of Fame, will move its archives and research facilities to the new building. The arena will also be the permanent home of the Etobicoke Dolphins, Canada’s second largest women’s hockey organization, and the Faustina Sports Club.
Giffels Design-Build Inc. will deliver the $33.65-million project, funded by the Lakeshore Lions through private equity and fundraising efforts.
Located in Etobicoke at the corner of Kipling and New Toronto Street, the new state-of-the-art facility will have four ice pads — three NHL-size pads and one Olympic-size pads. It will also have 1,000 spectator seats, a full service restaurant that is open to the public, pro shop and community meeting rooms.
“Negotiating this deal and finalizing the arena design has been a long process, but well worth the effort to bring this state-of-the-art facility to the community of Etobicoke,” stated Bob Harris, President, Lakeshore Lions Arena Incorporated.
The 10 acre site where the new arena is being built was formerly unused Toronto District School Board (TDSB) land, north of Lakeshore Collegiate. In a land exchange deal, the TDSB was granted a parcel of land just west of the school, including the Collegiate’s football field, the Lions' existing arena and the land north of Gus Ryder Swimming pool. The new Lakeshore Lions Arena will also provide 500 hours of free rink time for TDSB students.
"We're excited to partner with the Lions Club and Canada’s sports leaders to develop what will become an epicentre for hockey and a global model that caters to every level from grassroots to high performance," Bob Hunter, executive vice-president of venues and entertainment for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. "The facility will be a great community asset that makes the sport accessible, while at the same time, supporting the growth and development of hockey in Canada.”
The Maple Leafs and Marlies will invest $5.5 million on the team’s 30,000 square feet of training space that will house the NHL’s finest exercise facilities, a medical room to support diagnosis and treatment; and a physiotherapy room that supports rehabilitation and recovery. The Leafs will also use the arena to run hockey development clinics and programs including the Toronto Maple Leafs Hockey School, taking their outreach efforts to new levels by bringing hockey to Ontario’s youth.
Giffels Design-Build Inc., which has designed and will build the new arena, has been working with the Lions Club from day one to bring this ambitious project to fruition. As new tenants signed on, the Lions’ plans expanded and the design underwent multiple changes.
“We made an investment with the Lions Club over the last four years and the resulting partnership can and should be used as a model for municipalities to move forward with their sports and recreation facilities,” said Ken Burns, Vice President, Giffels Design-Build Inc. “Not only are they opening a new arena, they are helping to revitalize the community that they have called home and supported through fundraising efforts for more than 75 years.”