City Council Approves Construction of Raptors Practice Facility

Toronto City Council has voted in favor of approving a Raptors practice facility on the Exhibition Place grounds. The motion allowed the $30-million construction project to go ahead and be built by the Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, which hopes to have it built in time for the 2016 All-Star game in Toronto.

The motion acquired an overwhelming majority as 38-2 Councillors voted in favour of the project, with the only two nay votes coming from Mayor Rob Ford and councillor Doug Ford. Explaining his vote later on, Mr. Ford stated that “they’ve just insulted every kid in Toronto Community Housing.” Whereas on the other hand, chair of the Exhibition Place board, Councillor Mark Grimes, alleged that the mayor’s recommended amendments to the motion were more about politics. Grimes stated that “to come at the 11th hour and 59th minute to start bringing these things to the floor is kind of concerning to me.”

Last week, MLSE president and CEO, Tim Leiweke, informed the executive committee members that the company is willing to pay for construction, upkeep, maintenance, and capital improvements. However, the building was to be owned by the city and leased to MLSE. In his remarks, Leiweke added that MLSE will put a focus on opening up the facility to community groups for camps and tournaments, as well as to Canada Basketball. Meanwhile, parking issues are also being highlighted since 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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