Greedy MLSE is seeking a court injunction against the use of the classic Maple Leaf Gardens name

Greedy MLSE is seeking a court injunction against the use of the classic Maple Leaf Gardens name

Inside the revamped Maple Leaf Gardens (Image: Rick Harris) 

In their efforts to transform Maple Leaf Gardens into a functioning multi-use facility, it seems the folks at Loblaw Properties and Ryerson University have awoken a sleeping giant: Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. When MLSE sold Maple Leaf Gardens to Loblaws for $12 million in 2004, one of the conditions of the sale was that the House that Conn Smythe Built would be converted exclusively into a grocery store and retail space. But now that Ryerson has committed upwards of $60 million to turn the upper levels of the Gardens into a bona fide athletic facility, MLSE is seeking a court injunction against Ryerson and Loblaws, claiming that they have violated the terms of the original agreement and should be forbidden from using the name “Maple Leaf Gardens”—an MLSE-owned trademark.

The Globe and Mail has more:

In late 2009, Loblaw and Ryerson reached a deal whereby the main floor would be converted into a supermarket, while the school would build an athletic centre, basketball court and 2,500-seat arena with an NHL-size rink on the upper storeys.

The legal manoeuvring comes just three months before the first phase of the development is set to open.

MLSE would not comment in detail on the case, but court documents filed by the company suggest the sports giant is afraid Ryerson’s new facilities will host concerts and generate money, in competition with the ACC.

MLSE controls all of the city’s most valuable sports properties—including the Maple Leafs, Raptors, Toronto FC, the Air Canada Centre, BMO Field, and Ricoh Colleseum—which makes going after Ryerson and its new venue seem a little unnecessary. After all, it’s hard to imagine that any promoter looking to rent out the revamped Gardens facility (capacity 2500) would also be considering the ACC (capacity 20,000-plus) as a realistic alternative.

But frankly, we don’t expect anything else from MLSE. This is the same corporation that threatened court action when Jim Balsillie mused about relocating an NHL franchise to southeastern Ontario (as if the Hamilton BlackBerries would really cause the demise of the Leafs empire). We think MLSE should just go back to counting their piles and piles of money—or perhaps even take a dip in it, like this–while they wait to be sold to Rogers.

Don’t call arena Maple Leaf Gardens, Loblaws told [Toronto Star]
MLSE seeks injunction over Ryerson plan for Maple Leaf Gardens [The Globe and Mail]
Maple Leafs owner takes Maple Leaf Gardens to court over name [National Post]