Investing In The Game
Wednesday, 12.22.2010 / 4:19 PM ET / Mike Ulmer's Blog
By Mike Ulmer - Mapleleafs.com commentator
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The Toronto Maple Leafs have long invested in hockey players.
They also invest in hockey.
Through it's charitable foundation, Team Up, the Leafs, hardware and home renovation giant RONA and the city of Toronto have teamed up to refurbish four outdoor arenas across Toronto.
The latest achievement for the three partners is Trinity Bellwoods Park, downtown Toronto greenspace. To commemorate the revamped facility, the Maple Leafs braved the chill to practice and stage shoot-out drills on the new ice. Young hockey players were treated to a practice session with Wendel Clark and hundreds of Leaf fans lined the site to catch a glimpse of a player.
“This is a great event,” said Kristopher Versteeg. “It’s a great cause.”
Colby Armstrong took part in an outdoor game as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins and he was mightily impressed with the caliber of the facility.
“This really takes you back,” said the Lloydminster, Saskatchewant native. “I used to play on outdoor rinks all the time but I never had anything like this.”
“We had lots of outdoor rinks growing up in Edmonton,” said Dion Phaneuf, “but we never had anything as nice as this. Being here when they opened this new rink is very special.”
Employees from RONA and MLSE donated 500 hours toward the refurbishment and the two firms combined to invest $125,000 in upgrades. They replaced the boards, installed new doors and windows in the change rooms and staff areas, created more storage and benches and landscaped the site.
“This facility was in pretty rough shape” said Bob Hunter MLSE executive vice president of venues and entertainment. “It didn’t smell very good and the backboards were poor. We have a selection committee to decide which rinks are refurbished and this wasn’t a tough choice for us.
“Now look at it.”
In four years, MLSE and the Team Up Foundation have contributed to 22 city-owned facilities all over the city.