Yesterday I was on my way home from Canadian Tire, listening to the Canadian Broadcasting Company - Radio Canada. I like to listen to Canadian news so I can get some sense of the culture outside of Western and London in general (harder to do than you might think). They were doing a story about Maple Leaf Gardens.
Maple Leaf Gardens is the name of the arena where the Toronto Maple Leafs used to play, until about 10 years ago when they moved into their new venue, the Air Canada Centre (named for the Canadian airline). The Gardens had a kind of historical presence, deemed by the CBC as the "most recognizable building in Canada." Apparently thousands of Canadians grew up watching games there on TV. But after the Leafs left, the building sat empty for 10 years. Now it's owned by Loblaws, a grocery company that owns a bunch of big chains around Canada. From what I understand, it's weird for Canadians that the building was such an icon for hockey and then it was kind of abandoned.
The radio story went on to describe the new plan, a joint suggestion from the city government and the Friends of Maple Leaf Gardens. They want it to become a combination grocery store (part of Loblaws' agreement) and public skating rink. The representative on the show said it would attract a lot of people to come skate because of the history there. "Who wouldn't want to hold a hockey stick on that ice?"
Things like this always make me want to find an American comparison. Of course, some Americans might not need one because they feel the same way about hockey, but for people like me - a midwesterner who only sort of knew anything about hockey - an analogy would be helpful. For example, what if the Cubs or the Yankees traded up for a nicer, multipurpose venue and left their historic stadiums empty for 10 years? That would probably make a lot of people uncomfortable. But what if, then, they turned the sad, unused Wrigley Field into a public park, and left the original diamond intact? Who wouldn't want to go play catch in the same dirt and grass that the Cubs play used to play in?