By Kendra Hamilton
Maple Leaf Square is getting a new name: Ford Square.
No, not that Ford.
Ford Motor Company is joining the ranks of those who have purchased an iconic sports landmark or gathering place in Canada to bear its name. Some people might be confused, thinking the name change relates to the city’s mayor, Rob Ford, but that is not the case.
Dave Haggith, senior director of communications at Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment, confirmed the name change on Thursday to the National Post. Torontonians and those living in the GTA admit it is a wise business move but even Leafs fans and Habs fans are united in grieving the loss of another all-Canadian name.
“I find it sad that all these city icons are losing their identity because corporations want to come in and bank on them,” said Nurali Bhimani, Torontonian and avid Habs fan. “But it’s common place in today’s society and economic market that this stuff is going to happen.”
Bhimani said he understands that the money for these places has to come from somewhere and so it makes sense that a corporation would get naming rights.
“It’s smart, ‘now they’re going to say, ‘broadcasting live from Ford Square,’” he said. “But I wish corporations would stay out of city’s iconic places.”
“It’s stupid,” said Michael Ha, Torontonian and Leafs enthusiast. “It literally takes everything away. People don’t even call the Skydome the Skydome anymore.”
“It’s a great move by Ford though because I think (the square) is going to continue to be as busy as it is,” he said. “To purchase it now with all the hype is a good move.”
Other sports fans have been less understanding of the major corporate move-in.
“That’s awful,” said Sean Corrigan, a man who was visiting Maple Leaf Square Thursday Morning. “This is where the Leafs play. Toronto is about the Leafs not about cars.”
“Any name other than Maple Leafs Square and I would be horrified,” he said.
“I think they should leave (the name) the same,” agreed Sarah Evans, a woman from Ajax. “Its an iconic name.”
The response on Twitter was similarly critical of the major corporate move in.
This isn’t the first time a well known venue got renamed in Canada. Bell Centre replaced the Montreal Forum in 1996. Then in 1999 the Air Canada Centre checked Maple Leaf Gardens out of the hockey spotlight and in 2005 the Skydome opened its roof as the Rogers Centre
Even when the Ford name does take over however it may be a long time before Maple Leafs Square fades into a memory.
“Even if the name officially changes it will never change for me,” said Ha. “I don’t think people will call it Ford Square, they’ll always call it Maple Leafs Square.”