Maple Leaf Gardens

Maple Leaf Gardens. Downtown Toronto arena, home of the famed Maple Leaf hockey team and venue for other sports and entertainment activities. Designed by Ross & Macdonald with associates Jack Ryrie and Mackenzie Waters, it was built in 1931 at a cost of about $1.5 million on the northwest corner of Carlton and Church streets. Originally it held 13,000 persons for hockey and 16,000 for other events. Renovations and alterations over the years increased the capacity to more than 16,000 for hockey and more than 18,000 for concerts.

The arena has been the site of opera (the Canadian Grand Opera Company's Faust in 1936 and the Metropolitan Opera's visiting productions 1952-60), programs by Toronto's ethnic communities (eg, Johnny Lombardi's festivals of song, which present Italian singers), and the annual Metropolitan Toronto Police concerts.

Beginning in the 1960s, it was the venue for virtually all of the city's major indoor rock and pop concerts until the SkyDome was opened in 1989. Among the artists and bands that have appeared at the Gardens are the Beatles, New Kids on the Block, the Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, the Who, and Neil Young. Toronto's Max Webster, Kim Mitchell, Rush, and Triumph also have headlined there. Through an unwritten agreement the arena was effectively the exclusive domain 1974-89 of Concert Productions International. After a hiatus 1989-90 CPI resumed its activities at the Gardens on a less exclusive basis.