TORONTO (AP) — While the Toronto Maple Leafs and Raptors gear up for next season, Scotiabank Arena is getting a multimillion-dollar face-lift.
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment president and CEO Michael Friisdahl calls it a “reimagination” of the venue that opened in February 1999.
“We’ve got to keep getting better, we’ve got to keep improving the experience,” Friisdahl said. “We won a championship — we’ve won four championships in the last three years. That, if anything, motivates us to do even more.”
Friisdahl, who took up his position at MLSE in December 2015, declined to put a price-tag on the improvements other than to say it’s “multi, multimillion dollars.”
“Eventually when it’s all said and done, you will notice that everything will have be touched in one way or another to improve the overall (fan) experience,” he added.
MLSE is coming off a major high thanks to the Raptors’ NBA championship in June. That followed titles by Toronto FC (MLS) and Raptors 905 (G League) in 2017 and the Marlies (American Hockey League) in 2018.
The Argos also won the Grey Cup in 2017 with MLSE chairman Larry Tanenbaum a part-owner. But MLSE didn’t take over full ownership until just after the team won the CFL title.
Friisdahl says MLSE’s investment is to ensure the arena is both a “gathering place” for fans but also a destination in the city, going hand-in-hand with the money that has gone into renovating nearby Union Station.
A pedestrian bridge is being built over Bay Street from CIBC Square, currently under construction. It will connect with a new second floor to the galleria on the north side of the arena, as well as the city’s underground Path network.
The bridge should help ease the postgame flow of fans, some of whom dodge traffic to get to the other side on their way to a transit hub located to the east. Via the galleria, it will also allow daily access to the arena’s Hot Stove Lounge and other special dining areas now just open during events.