Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens is set to become a retail emporium by early 2005. The sale of the 100,00-square-foot hockey arena to Canadian supermarket chain Loblaw Cos. is expected to close in January, pending city approval.

Loblaw plans to build a supermarket and a number of non-food stores — including a pharmacy and dry cleaner — inside the building. The revamped facility also will include a Maple Leaf memorabilia shop and hockey store run by Loblaw.

The redevelopment is similar to that of the Montreal Forum, once home of the Montreal Canadiens. The renamed Le Forum Pepsi now houses movie theaters and restaurants.

Loblaw says it will maintain much of the existing facade, modifying a rear section to accommodate loading docks and a spiral ramp for additional parking.