Maple Leaf Gardens to get stimulus money to become supermarket-athletic center

The Canadian government has announced it’s contributing $20 million in stimulus money toward a $60 million reconstruction of Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens that’s either a “revitalization” or a “bittersweet” “extreme makeover,” depending on which paper you read. The 78-year-old Gardens, abandoned by the eponymous Maple Leafs in 1999, will get a Loblaws grocery store installed on the ground floor where the hockey ice used to be, while a new rink (plus volleyball and basketball courts) will be constructed up near the roof for use by Ryerson University, which is funding $20 million more of the project. Another $20 million needs to be raised by March 2011 to begin construction, or else the federal money gets withdrawn.