Toronto Raptors fans line up outside the Scotiabank Arena, in Toronto on Monday, June 10, 2019, to gain access to the fan area known as ‘Jurassic Park’ ahead of game five of the NBA Finals between the Toronto Raptors ad Golden State Warriors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Fans pumped for potentially championship-clinching Raptors game tonight

It’s the first time a Canadian team has had a chance at winning the NBA finals

Eager Raptors fans donned ponchos, huddled under umbrellas and spontaneously burst into chants in downtown Toronto on Monday as they waited for a potentially championship-clinching game to tip off on the team’s home court.

Rain that fell on and off throughout the day didn’t dampen the spirits of those who waited to get into the Jurassic Park fan zone outside the arena where Canada’s sole NBA team will play the Golden State Warriors for Game 5 for the Finals.

READ MORE: Raptors a win away from NBA title after beating Warriors 105-92

Some had come from all over Toronto, others travelled from farther afield to be part of the excitement. The smell of marijuana wafted through the air as the line snaked halfway around the large arena, and predictions that the Raptors would take home the title could be heard all around.

“I’ve been a Raps fan since day one, young, young,” said 15-year-old Kamryn Thompsett. “Being in the NBA Finals is a big thing to me. If they win tonight, it’s party all night.”

Thompsett was in line with his friend, Zackery Spice. The two high schoolers had ditched classes, hopped on a bus from Uxbridge, Ont., with their moms and got in line around 6:30 a.m.

“We were up all night because we were scared we wouldn’t catch the bus,” said Spice, 15, who predicted the Raptors playing at home would give the team a boost. “We’re up 3-1, we could win.”

Shiva Baweja, who had come into the city from Mississauga, Ont., to get in line at 6 a.m., also predicted a big night for the Raptors.

“We’re going to win today,” said the 17-year-old. “I’ve been waiting for this moment for a while.”

Even those who had only recently become fans of the team were brimming with anticipation.

“I just hopped on the bandwagon after we won, what’s it called, the semi-finals?” said 22-year-old Jediael Tracey. “Now they mean everything to me.”

Versions of the Jurassic Park fan zone, where large screens broadcast the games, have sprung up in cities across the country.

Peel police Sgt. Joe Cardi said his force was expecting 25,000 fans to show up at Mississauga’s Jurassic Park West, the name currently being used for the city’s Celebration Square.

“We want everyone to have a good time, cheer on the team, and make it home safely,” Cardi said. “Go Raptors!”

In Montreal, the enthusiasm for Canada’s lone NBA franchise was enough to create the unthinkable: a major downtown street was closed off Monday night so fans could cheer on a team from Toronto.

Starting at 5 p.m., a section of Peel Street became a Montreal version of Jurassic Park for the first time, with a big screen in place to broadcast the game. It is the same stretch of street that was closed off last week for festivities connected with the Canadian Grand Prix.

READ MORE: Where to watch the Toronto Raptors Game 5 of the NBA finals

Fans in Halifax were set to watch the game at block parties, while those in Regina can head to Mosaic Stadium, home of the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders, to watch on the MaxTron screen. The screen is the largest in Canada, and — at more than 630 square metres — is even bigger than a standard NBA basketball court.

A special viewing party was also planned at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children for patients, their families and staff. The hospital is part of a charity challenge between Toronto Mayor John Tory and his Oakland, Calif., counterpart during the Raptors’ playoff run.

Tory and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf have been competing to see who can raise more money for a good cause, with Toronto fans asked to donate to the SickKids Foundation for the Hospital for Sick Children and Warriors fans challenged to give money to two food banks.

Other politicians have also been making wagers on the two teams.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a bet on the Finals with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, putting up bagels and beer against wine and chocolate.

Meanwhile, officials asked fans to be on their best behaviour while taking in the game, which begins at 9 p.m. ET.

In Toronto, city staff, police and the local transit agency said they were working with Raptors parent company Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment to deal with the thousands that are expected to turn out.

“We would like to remind the public to make decisions that do not impact their own safety or that of others when gathering to enjoy the game celebrations,” said police spokeswoman Katrina Arrogante.

Online ticket-resale site StubHub said Monday’s game was its all-time NBA leader in sales. The highest ticket sold on the site for Game 5 was listed at $27,500, it said.

“The demand is indicative of a fanbase waiting 24 years for a chance at the country’s first NBA Championship,” said Paul Nowosad, general manager of StubHub Canada. “Fans want to be there for what could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

READ MORE: Raptors remain all-business on eve of what could be historic victory

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

UPDATED: Man pleads guilty in Baker Street death

Miles Halverson is guilty of manslaughter in the death of Matt Reeder

Nelson man accused of swimming naked at Toronto aquarium expected to plead guilty

David Weaver, of Nelson, was arrested and charged in October of last year

Nelson to hold open house on Railtown development

City will present plans and ask for input on specific areas of Railtown

LETTER: What are consequences of lake dredging?

From East Shore reader Tom Lymbery

LETTER: Support youth at climate strike

News from a local youth climate action retreat last month, and an invitation

Third instance of Trudeau in skin-darkening makeup emerges

Another instance of Trudeau using makeup to darken his face has emerged, within 24 hours of the first

VIDEO: Party leaders react to Trudeau’s brownface photo bombshell

Fallout from Justin Trudeau’s brownface photo, and two other instances, sure to dominate campaign

35 of 87 dogs in 2018 Williams Lake seizure were euthanized, BC SPCA confirm

The dogs did not respond to the behaviour modification and remained terrified of humans

B.C. ‘tent city’ disputes spark call for local government autonomy

UBCM backs Maple Ridge after province overrules city

B.C. drug dealers arrested after traffic stop near Banff turns into helicopter pursuit

Antonio Nolasco-Padia, 23, and Dina Anthony, 55, both well-known to Chilliwack law enforcement

B.C. MLA calls on province to restrict vaping as first related illness appears in Canada

Todd Stone, Liberal MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson, introduced an anti-vaping bill in April

Chilliwack woman wins right to medically assisted death after three-year court battle

Julia Lamb has been the lead plaintiff in a legal battle to ease restrictions on Canada’s assisted dying laws

Most Read