It took the closing of a major sports league for the world to begin the rapid shut-down of all non-essential activity.  After the NBA decided they would no longer be playing games for the foreseeable future, the NHL (who were mid-season at the time) and MLB (who were prepping for the start of their season) quickly followed suit.

After that – everything came to a screeching halt.

Now, nearly two months to the date, plans are being put in place to bring back the very league that helped facilitate this high level of social change to the world.

The NHL is working its way back.

However, the league will be moving forward with a much different look than ever before.

The current plan is to bring teams back to a revised schedule that would see them play live games, but with no fans in the stands.

Weird, right?

If you had told a sports fan this scenario 12 months ago, you would have been looked at like you were crazy.

Enter the reality of the whirlwind that has been 2020.

But to ensure the league does this in the healthiest manner possible, it is considering creating “hubs” around the continent that would act as a home base for multiple teams to operate from, thus reducing the amount of travel and additional services required to do so.

Enter Toronto – the hockey Mecca of the world.

Much to the dismay of every Montreal and Ottawa fan out there, “the Toronto Maple Leafs’ parent company, MLSE, has been in contact with the province about the possibility of Canada’s biggest city serving as a so-called “hockey pod” for teams should the NHL resume its season”. As the article points out, this plan is still in its early stages of execution and the specific details have not been presented to the province as of yet.

So what does this mean for Toronto as a city?

This CBC article points out some of the pros and cons for Canadian cities interested in being hubs for fan-free NHL games.

The re-introduction of sports also means the re-introduction of the services required to host them.

In order for the city of Toronto to host multiple teams and provide an on-ice product, services such as hotels, restaurants, transportation, grocery stores, fitness facilities, office space, and much more are required.

These players, coaches, doctors, and executives would be relocated for extended periods of time, in a city that is otherwise foreign to them.   Ensuring that they have everything required would be essential to their quality of life and the quality of on-ice play.

This presents a great opportunity to those business operators in the downtown core.

Imagine a time where restaurants are facing bankruptcy and hotels and office space are at a minimal occupancy.

Now imagine a time where these same establishments have permanent business from a league that is looking to spare no expense in an effort to get their product back on every TV in the country.

Teams will be looking for exclusive accommodations for living, eating, and operating, so they can mitigate the risk of a COVID-19 spread within their organization.

Toronto surely has the hotels to do so as the Delta, Fairmont Royal York,  Le Germain, and Westin Harbour Castle are all within a  kilometre of Scotiabank Arena.

Toronto also has a multitude of restaurants in the downtown core. Most notably, e11even, Real Sports, Aria, Miku, The Fox, The Firkin, and The Miller Tavern all located within the same kilometre of the arena and the above hotels.

Office space is also essential for the everyday operations of these franchises. Executive decisions must be made. Meetings must be held. A business hub within the hub is required.

The Rostie Group would be the perfect setting for an NHL franchise’s office and meeting spaces.

Our PATH accessible facility, which was deemed essential, is situated in the same complex as the NHL Players Association and is conveniently located just steps from Scotiabank Arena.

Our flexible offices can be rented out by the day, week, month, or year. These spaces, which are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected daily, have been set up with 6-foot social distancing measures in place.

Additional services such as printing and scanning, mail services, access to meeting rooms, video meeting access, fully serviced kitchen and much more, will make the everyday operations of these teams much easier to navigate through.

One thing has been made abundantly clear, society needs sports and sports need society.  This has become glaringly apparent during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s time to take the first step back to normality and NHL hockey in Toronto may just be the catalyst necessary for doing so.