Council approves Raptors practice facility

MLSE hopes to have the facility ready for the 2016 All-Star game

Council has approved a Raptors practice facility on the Exhibition Place grounds.

The $30-million construction project will be paid for by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. The company hopes to have the building ready in time for the 2016 All-Star game, which Toronto will host.

Councillors voted 38-2 in favour of the project. The two nay votes came from mayor Rob Ford and councillor Doug Ford.

"They've just insulted every kid in Toronto Community Housing," mayor Ford later told reporters, explaining his vote.

Councillors decided not to vote in favour of an amendment made by the mayor, asking MLSE to consider allocating 10 per cent of the facility's community hours to TCH youth. The consideration was instead referred to the city manager.

Councillor Mark Grimes, chair of the Exhibition Place board, says each of his colleagues wants to look after underpriviliged children, but he says the mayor's amendment was more about politics.

"To come at the 11th hour and 59th minute to start bringing these things to the floor is kind of concerning to me," Grimes says.

MLSE president and CEO Tim Leiweke told executive committee members last week that the company will pay for construction, upkeep, maintenance, and capital improvements. The building will be owned by the city and leased to MLSE. 

Leiweke says MLSE will put a focus on opening up the facility to community groups for camps and tournaments, as well as to Canada Basketball.

Parking issues have also brought up. Placing the facility near the Medieval Times would mean the loss of 200 parking spaces at the Ex. MLSE will pay $2-million, matched by the city, to build a new parking facility.

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  1. IBLeaf posted on 08/25/2014 05:25 PM
    On the contrary, this facility will be a wonderful opportunity for kids in Toronto Community Housing to watch the Raptors live and in person. The underlying tragedy of this story is the evil corporate greed of MLSE that prevents the true fans from ever affording a ticket to see their beloved team play a game.
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