Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Few Answers (Post #3)

What shapes/limits/facilitates your chosen space, what shapes/limits/facilitates your relationship to it?

I think I answered these questions pretty thoroughly in the previous two posts but here's a quick recap:

My space, Maple Leafs Square is shaped by primarily commercial and high-end residential space, with the Air Canada Centre, two relatively nice restaurants and a nice apartment building. Money definitely limits Maple Leafs Square; if you don't have it, your options are severely limited in what you can do. If someone didn't have the money to go out to eat, or chose not to, they could by like Jeremy Moulton, who was quoted in the Toronto Sun article as saying his 39th birthday, the one he spent at Maple Leafs Square with his family, 5,000 "friends" and some food he brought from home, was his "best ever". I think money and location are the two factors that facilitate my chosen space the most. Money facilitates my space as the commercial space is far more important to the operation of the space than the actual square is. MLSE owns Real Sports and e11even and probably has a good stake in the condos and hotels as well. All the money they earn from those properties are used to maintain the exterior of the square, including the giant screen.

Location is an obvious factor. It's downtown where a huge amount of people live and where a huge amount of people want to be. Those in the second category are willing to go the extra mile (no pun intended) to immerse themselves in this exciting atmosphere and be part of the action. I'm one of those people. I live in the suburbs but I'm downtown between up to 3 times a week sometimes for various reasons. It's definitely not always to see a game from the inside of the ACC but sometimes I'll meet some friends downtown and we'll go out to a bar or restaurant to watch the game. It's about the atmosphere and Maple Leafs Square - and especially Real Sports Bar & Grill - is spectacularly conducive to creating a great atmosphere.

My relationship to the space is shaped by a couple of factors: my love of food and my love of sports. I have already been to Real Sports for a meal with my dad right after we went to a basketball game across the street at the ACC. Fortunately, we had the connections to acquire the Raptors tickets for free - a friend from my dad's work has season tickets and gave us a pair - and the money to go eat afterwards. I would say money is the primary factor in determining one's relationship to the space but preference is also factor. So is the weather; if it's cold outside, most Torontonians would probably rather stay inside a home or a bar and watch the game than stand outside in the cold, despite the size of the screen. In terms of what facilitates my relationship to the space, the answer is transit and oppositely, parking limits it.

I'm fortunate enough that I do often have access to a car but I also have a metropass. What I lose in time riding the TTC, I easily make up for in money. Gas is over $1.10/litre and I live about 25km away from the ACC so it will probably cost me $10 alone in gas plus $18 in parking (it might even be more on game nights) whereas the metropass costs me $99 for the whole month. Yes it's slower and sometimes inefficient but it's monetary value far outweighs driving.

Is it a space that you see represented (written about, photographed) in the world around you?

I read the Toronto Star sports page almost every day and I don't recall a single occasion except for the day after the NHL kickoff when the Maple Leafs Square was spoken of. I don't want to go start researching other publications because I'm sure I could find stuff if I really looked hard but I think the local sports page would be a pretty good indication of the media coverage. The only way I think the space is really represented is on the Real Sports Twitter account. The lady in charge is on top of that thing like no other, always replying to people who ask her questions or post comments about the establishment. The only problem is that outside of Real Sports' followers, no one else will read the comments.

If no, think about why that space is unrepresented, and what effect the lack of representation might have.

This is probably the most difficult question to answer but the answer might actually be quite simple (and depressing). I think the reason that the space is unrepresented is that it's kind of useless. What are people supposed to talk about? How awesome it is that there's a huge slab of concrete with the Maple Leafs' symbol painted on it surrounded by restaurants and apartment buildings and of course the arena. All these things cost money, and lots of it. It's not like a park where you can go every day of the whole summer and not pay a dime, or even a movie that's only $10 or $12. Tickets for the Raptors or the Leafs are pretty expensive - over $50 expensive - and there's little chance you're going by yourself so that means multiple tickets. If you want to go eat afterwards, a meal for two people with tax and tip will be a minimum of $30-40. I guess the point of this is that besides those who live in the building, the employees and season-ticket holders, a trip to Maple Leafs Square is a rare event. It's not represented because of its infrequent accessibility.

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