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Renovations begin on Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena, home of the Maple Leafs and Raptors

Click to play video: 'Phase 2 of Scotiabank Arena renovations underway'
Phase 2 of Scotiabank Arena renovations underway
WATCH: The second stage of renovations at the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors will focus largely on the 100-level concourse. Shallima Maharaj has a preview – May 14, 2024

Emphasizing the entertainment in Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment is the main reason for significant renovations to Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena.

Keith Pelley, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, swung a sledgehammer through a wall on the 100-level concourse on Tuesday morning as part of a ceremonial groundbreaking at the home of the NHL’s Maple Leafs and NBA’s Raptors. Pelley said that how fans experience in-person sporting events has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic, with a greater level of engagement expected for their entertainment dollars.

“If we were just in the sports business, we probably wouldn’t be having this type of aggressive, ambitious, forward-thinking way of looking at the re-imagination,” said Pelley, alluding to the project’s official title Scotiabank Arena Reimagination. “I love the name because imagination is what you need right now in every type of experience that you’re giving to the fans.”

MLSE is investing approximately $350 million into the four-phase renovation of the 25-year-old arena that Pelley noted is the busiest in Canada, fourth busiest in North America, and 10th busiest in the world. Phase 1 was completed last summer and was focused on the 200 level of the arena, a section primarily dedicated to luxury boxes.

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Construction could not begin on Phase 2 — which is focused on the 100 level — until the Maple Leafs and Raptors, the venue’s primary occupants, had finished their seasons. Pelley said in opening remarks at the ceremony that the second of four phases would largely be complete by the time those two teams started their 2024-25 seasons but concerts over the summer would be affected.

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Nick Eaves, MLSE’s chief venues and operations officer, said that the most obvious change to fans entering the arena in the fall will be signage all over the main concourse that will change based on the game or concert being held.

“It’s really beginning the sort of the energy and the experience that the fan has been thinking about all day in the lead-up to their events,” said Eaves as construction continued down the hall from him. “Hopefully they’re anticipating that as they approach the building, but as soon as they come in on this 100-level concourse, they’ll feel that energy.

“They’ll be into their Leafs mode, Raptors mode, live music concert mode, and that’s really exciting.”

Eaves said there will be rolling closures of the 100-level concourse when the Maple Leafs and Raptors begin their new seasons. The closures will be on the east side, then the south side, and finally on the west section.

Both the Maple Leafs and Raptors have raised ticket prices over the past five years, but Eaves said that decision has nothing to do with the construction project.

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“There’s no correlation between ticket pricing and renovations in the building,” said Eaves. “Every year the team goes and looks at the market and makes a determination on ticket pricing but completely independent of any renovation that we do, or don’t do.”

Storied French soccer club Saint-Étienne said on Monday it was in exclusive talks for a sale to Kilmer Group, co-owner of MLSE.

The full purchase of the 1976 European Cup finalist by Kilmer Group should be ratified within weeks, the club said in a statement four days before a key end-of-season game in its push to be promoted back to the top tier.

Several media outlets reported on Friday that Kilmer Group has also landed a WNBA franchise to start playing in May 2026 at Coca-Cola Coliseum, another venue operated by MLSE.

— With files from The Associated Press.

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