OVO Athletic Centre

The OVO Athletic Centre, formerly the BioSteel Centre and the Toronto Raptors Training Centre, is a basketball practice facility in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Opened on February 10, 2016,[1] the facility is home to the Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association (NBA), and owned by the team's owner, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE). It is located on leased public land in Exhibition Place, near Dufferin Street and the Gardiner Expressway, west of downtown. It is named for OVO Sound, a Canadian subsidiary of Warner Records.

OVO Athletic Centre
Viewed from the south-east.
Former namesBioSteel Centre (2016-18)
Toronto Raptors Training Centre (2018-19)
Address30 British Columbia Road
LocationToronto, Ontario, Canada
Coordinates43°37′55″N 79°25′41″W
OwnerMaple Leaf Sports & Entertainment
Field size68,000 sq ft (6,300 m2)
Construction
OpenedFebruary 10, 2016
Construction costCA$30 million
ArchitectGuernsey Architects (lead architect)
Baldwin & Franklin (supporting architects)
General contractorEllisDon
Tenants
Toronto Raptors (NBA) (2016–present)
Canada men's national basketball team
Canada women's national basketball team

Facility

The 68,000-square-foot (6,300 m2) two-storey facility has two full-size basketball courts, locker rooms, training and medical facilities, player amenities, and a "technologically advanced cognitive operations centre" powered by IBM Watson, which consolidates and analyzes data from many sources and represented through the centre's interactive displays and on mobile devices.[1]

Along with the Raptors, Canada Basketball[2][3] and Raptors 905, the Raptors NBA G League affiliate team based in Mississauga, also use the facility.[4] A section of the facility is reserved for MLSE, another is for community use and the basketball courts are shared between MLSE and community use.[5][6][2]

History

In November 2013, it was reported that MLSE had contracted an architect to design a new practice facility for the Raptors.[7] The team had trained on a practice court located within the Air Canada Centre (now the Scotiabank Arena) since its opening in 1999, and a new facility would allow this space to be repurposed into a restaurant or nightclub.[7][8] MLSE proposed to build the facility on parking lot lands in the west end of City-owned Exhibition Place. The proposal meant the loss of 200 parking spaces, which would be replaced by replacing an adjacent ball diamond with a new parking lot.[9] The proposal was approved by the Board of Governors of Exhibition Place on August 14, 2014,[10] the Executive Committee of Toronto City Council on August 20,[11][5] and the full Toronto City Council on August 25.[12][13][14] Construction began in November 2014,[6][2] with the facility completed in time for the team's hosting of the NBA All-Star Game in February 2016.[8][3][15]

Under the terms of the lease agreement, MLSE paid the CA$30 million construction cost of the facility and parking lot. MLSE leases the property from the City for $205,000 annually, plus city taxes, subject to reassessments for inflation, for a 20-year term, with two options to extend it by a further ten years, following which the City will take ownership of the building.[6][16] MLSE requested that the City exempt the portion of the facility that is available to the public (32%) from city taxes.[6][16] MLSE pledged to make the facility available for community use during the majority of daytime and evening hours. MLSE would contribute to the cost of a parking study of Exhibition Place, leading to a new parking facility and the reconstruction of green space to replace the ball diamond. The annual CNE Lions Club youth baseball tournament, which had been played at the diamond, was moved to Coronation Park, east of Exhibition Place, as an interim measure.

In November 2015, it was announced that the facility would be named the BioSteel Centre, after corporate sponsor BioSteel Sports Nutrition Inc..[17][18] This ended in 2018 and the facility was renamed the Toronto Raptors Training Centre.[19][20] On March 14, 2019, the Raptors announced that they had reached an agreement with OVO on a naming rights deal to rebrand the facility as the OVO Athletic Centre.[21]

References

  1. "Raptors Officially Open State-of-the-Art 'BioSteel Centre'". NBA.com (Press release). NBA. February 10, 2016. Retrieved February 10, 2016.
  2. Caton, Hilary (August 12, 2014). "New Raptors practice facility at Exhibition Place still not a slam-dunk". Inside Toronto. Retrieved August 16, 2014.
  3. "High performance basketball development and training centre" (PDF). www.explace.on.ca. Exhibition Place. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 19, 2014. Retrieved August 16, 2014.
  4. Colpitts, Iain (January 19, 2017). "D-League Showcase puts Raptors 905 on the map". bramptonguardian.com. The Mississauga News. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
  5. Moloney, Paul (August 20, 2014). "Executive committee approves plan for Raptors training centre at Exhibition Place". Toronto Star. Retrieved August 22, 2014.
  6. "Appendix A" (PDF). www.toronto.ca. City of Toronto. August 2014. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
  7. Muret, Don (November 11, 2013). "MLSE hires designer for practice facility; downtown targeted". www.sporstbusinessdaily.com. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  8. Wolstat, Ryan (April 16, 2014). "Raptors close to making announcement on new practice court". Toronto Sun. Retrieved April 16, 2014.
  9. Peat, Don (July 29, 2014). "Raptors in talks for Exhibition Place practice facility". Toronto Sun. Retrieved July 29, 2014.
  10. Warmington, Joe (August 15, 2014). "CNE is forced to change with the landscape". Toronto Sun. Retrieved August 16, 2014.
  11. Church, Elizabeth (August 20, 2014). "Raptors' Exhibition Place plan scores victory at Toronto city hall". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved August 22, 2014.
  12. Peat, Don (August 25, 2014). "Mayor Rob Ford rips Raptors facility approval". Toronto Sun. Retrieved September 1, 2014.
  13. "New Raptors training centre approved by Toronto council". CBC News. August 25, 2014. Retrieved September 1, 2014.
  14. "Proposed Basketball Training Centre at Exhibition Place". app.toronto.ca. City of Toronto. Retrieved August 16, 2014.
  15. "Toronto Raptors Practice Facility". iconvenue.com. ICON Venue Group. Retrieved February 9, 2015.
  16. "Proposed Basketball Training Centre at Exhibition Place" (PDF). www.toronto.ca. City of Toronto. August 6, 2014. Retrieved August 17, 2014.
  17. "Raptors Welcome BioSteel As Official Partner". nba.com (Press release). Toronto Raptors. November 12, 2015. Retrieved November 13, 2015.
  18. Campbell, Morgan (November 12, 2015). "Toronto Raptors, BioSteel strike naming rights deal". Toronto Star. Retrieved November 13, 2015.
  19. Smith, Doug (October 5, 2018). "Why Raptors versus the world is not what it used to be". Toronto Star. Retrieved October 10, 2018.
  20. "Portfolio". mlse.com. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. Retrieved October 10, 2018.
  21. "Raptors and OVO Elevate Partnership with OVO Athletic Centre Naming Rights Deal". nba.com (Press release). March 14, 2019. Retrieved March 17, 2019.
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