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$15-million donation from philanthropist Peter Gilgan for Athletic Centre at the Gardens

Peter Gilgan Athletic Centre at the Gardens

Set to open in spring 2012, the newly re-named Peter Gilgan Athletic Centre at the Gardens more than doubles the amount of athletic and recreational facilities on Ryerson's campus. The state-of-the-art facilities will be accessible to both Ryerson's students and the local community.

Sheldon Levy, president and vice-chancellor of Ryerson University announced today that philanthropist and business leader Peter Gilgan, founder and CEO of Mattamy Homes, has contributed $15 million to Ryerson University for its new state-of-the-art sports facility currently in construction at the historic site of the former Maple Leaf Gardens. Levy and Gilgan were joined by John Carmichael, member of parliament for Don Valley West, representing the Government of Canada, and Ryerson students, who have contributed significant funding to the project.

At over 220,000 square feet (20,000 square metres), the new Peter Gilgan Athletic Centre more than doubles the amount of athletic and recreational facilities on Ryerson’s campus. The facilities will feature a full-sized ice rink to be known as the Mattamy Home Ice, a multi-purpose court for basketball and volleyball, a fitness centre, studios, and a high-performance gym. The facilities will be accessible to both Ryerson's students and the local community. Construction is expected to be completed in spring 2012.

“The vision of transforming this historical, iconic building - affectionately known as the Gardens - began with the generosity of Ryerson’s students and the Government of Canada,” said Levy. “I know that two of Peter Gilgan's children are graduates of Ryerson, two more are current students, and I'm very pleased that Peter has chosen to support Ryerson in this way. Peter’s wonderful generosity will benefit Ryerson students, our community and our city for years to come.”

“The Gardens holds such wonderful memories and historical significance for Toronto and Canada," said Gilgan. "I am delighted to play a part in the transformation of this iconic treasure that not only respects its rich heritage but also ensures the next generation will enjoy it all over again as a much needed community hub of sports, activity and fitness.”

“Our government is proud to invest in the revitalization of this important historic building,” said Carmichael, on behalf of the Honourable Denis Lebel, minister of transport, infrastructure and communities. “Thanks to Canada’s Economic Action Plan and our committed partners, this project created jobs and economic growth in downtown Toronto, and will strengthen our community for many years to come.”

The renovation of the Gardens was made possible in part by funding from the Government of Canada. Federal funding for one-third of total eligible project costs will be contributed through the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund, to a maximum federal contribution of $20 million, for costs incurred up to October 31, 2011. Ryerson students will also contribute $20 million through a student levy approved in 2009.

Of the “Original Six” NHL hockey arenas, the Peter Gilgan Athletic Centre is the only facility to retain a skating rink. Four of the original six rinks have been demolished (Boston, Chicago, Detroit and New York). The Montreal Forum was converted into shops, restaurants and a movie theatre.

The Mattamy Home Ice rink, on the third level of the Peter Gilgan Athletic Centre, is 100 feet below the iconic dome of the Gardens and 50 feet above street level, making it the highest elevated skating rink in Toronto. The ice surface is comprised of two slabs, a heating layer and an insulation layer, which can maintain separate, optimal temperatures for ice hockey and for figure skating.

For dozens of Ryerson Rams athletes, the new Peter Gilgan Athletic Centre at the Gardens will mean easier access to an ice rink on campus where they can practise and play. Currently men’s and women’s hockey teams, as well as the figure skating team, have been travelling to George Bell Arena in the city’s west end for practices and games.

"For as long as I've been at Ryerson, our hockey and figure skating teams haven't had ice available near our campus for practice or for games, and our varsity gym is cramped," said Carli Yim, a senior member of Ryerson's women's varsity volleyball team. "All of the athletes cannot wait to work out, practise and play in this amazing new facility. We'd like to extend our thanks to Mr. Gilgan for his generosity. It's going to be a thrill to play in such a historic building."

Gilgan has a long history of philanthropic initiatives in support of health and wellness, recreation and athletics, and higher education. He has donated millions of dollars to many charitable institutions including the Oakville YMCA, Sheridan College, George Brown College, Trillium Health Centre, William Osler Health Centre, Markham Stouffville Hospital and the Wellspring Cancer Support facility. Last year, Gilgan was the lead donor to the new Oakville Hospital with a $10-million donation for the new hospital.

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