Even though it’s the centre of the music universe in Canada (sorry, ROC, but it’s true) Toronto actually suffers from a shortage of music venues. Sure there’s the Rogers Centre, the ACC, the Molson Amphitheatre and a decent selection of clubs, there’s a gap in the mid-sized market–that is, dedicated venues that can hold between 1,500 and 5,000 people in either a general admission capacity or as a soft seat theatre.
Yes, we can current off the ACC, but that’s hardly ideal. The Ricoh Centre is woefully underused but because it uses union labour, it can be tremendously expensive. Echo Beach at Ontario Place is nice, but it’s only seasonal. Massey Hall is a classic venue, but it’s about to go dark for many months as part of a massive renovation.
Promoters and entertainment companies have been trying to find a suitable location for a new venue for years. There was an attempt to bring a House of Blues this way, but no space could be found. I’ve heard of some big-money proposals to redevelop portions of the now-shuttered Ontario Place complex, but thanks to the slowness of government, nothing has been moved forward.
There is some light on the horizon, though. At some point this month, The Sound Academy will reopen after being gutted. And now word comes that an off-track betting site in the Beaches area of Toronto has been approved for conversion into a new place to see live music.
The Champions-Greenwood Off Track Betting teletheatre at Queen East and Kingston Road will be transformed by Live Nation into a live venue capable of holding up to 2,700. And the planning approval states that it can’t double as a nightclub or dance hall.
It’s a good choice. There’s parking for up to 700 cars and it’s on a 24-hour streetcar line. Plus it has facilities at the rear for load in/out. Once it’s up and running–there’s no indication when that might be–the still-unnamed venue will hold up to 150 events a year, 80 to 90 of which will be concerts.
Good. Now about that 5,000-capacity soft-seater…
(Via FYI Music News)