Above: The opening ceremony at the Rexall Centre at York University
As Mounties held aloft a giant Canadian flag, white doves flew, and about 50 tennis players dressed in Toronto Maple Leafs hockey jerseys threw souvenir balls into the crowd, the Rexall Centre at York University was officially declared open Monday evening.
American tennis phenom Andy Roddick, winner of the 2003 Tennis Masters Canada, told the stadium court crowd that the players were thrilled with the new stadium. “It was more than I expected.”
In a ceremony which was both historic and colorful, nine of the “Canadian Idol” finalists sang a stirring rendition of the Canadian national anthem.
An official party consisting of key people responsible for the creation of the facility also stood proudly on court. Present were Larry Latowsky, president and CEO of Katz Canada Group which bought the naming rights to the Rexall Centre; Jack MacDonald, CEO of Compass Group Canada, responsible for the naming of the Compass Centre of Excellence which will be a high performance training facility for Canadian and Ontario tennis players. MP Roy Cullen, representing the Government of Canada, and Jim Bradley, Ontario minister of tourism and recreation, were also on hand because the Canada-Ontario Infrastructure Program contributed $10 million to the new complex. York University President and Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden was there to represent York University, since the Rexall Centre is located on the grounds of the University’s Keele campus.
In summing up Tennis Canada’s sentiment on the opening of the new stadium, tournament director Stacey Allaster said, “The grand opening is the culmination of 10 years of vision, 382 days of construction and more than 100 years of world-class tennis. What was a dream is now a reality.”
Earlier in the evening Tennis Canada hosted a party to acknowledge the contributions of about 500 tennis supporters who had all in some way helped in the development of the Rexall Centre.
Photograph and story courtesy of Tennis Canada.