Raptors NBA Finals Viewing Parties Taking Canada By Storm
The Raptors have long attempted to market themselves as Canada's team, but have not always been able to capitalize on being the nation's only NBA franchise since the Grizzlies left Vancouver in '01. That is until this year's run to the NBA Finals, where the Raptors lead the Warriors 3-2. While the series heads back to Oakland for tonight's Game 6, the Raptors will have the full support of not just their Toronto fanbase, but basketball fans across the entire country. Viewing parties are set to take place in more than 50 Canadian cities tonight spanning at least seven different provinces -- ranging from major metropolitan areas like Montreal to far-away locales like Red Deer, Alberta. Cities have seen thousands of fans show up to events to support the Raptors already during the Finals, but with a championship once again on the line tonight, all of Canada is prepping for big crowds and potential celebrations (David Rumsey, THE DAILY).
JURASSIC WORLD: In Regina, Ryan McNally noted the city is preparing for a big crowd at Mosaic Stadium, home of the CFL Saskatchewan Roughriders, to watch tonight's game, and the city "will be providing transit service to and from the game similar to Rider games and other big events." Regina Sport & Recreation Manager Jeff May said, "We’re assuming it’s going to be at least in the 16,000 mark." May also said that plans are "in the works to open more concessions and increase security at the Stadium with the anticipation of a larger crowd" (620CKRM.com, 6/11). The Edmonton Expo Centre will "host a free viewing party" for tonight's game. Canadian Elite Basketball League Edmonton Stingers President Lee Genier said that they "made the decision to create a Jurassic Park on Monday night after overwhelming requests from fans on social media" (TORONTO STAR, 6/12). Montreal is "set to close Crescent Street" in downtown tonight so crowds can watch the game, while a "second street viewing party will take place on Peel St." (MONTREAL.CTVNEWS.ca, 6/12). Bell MTS Place in downtown Winnipeg "will open its doors for a viewing party." The arena’s lower bowl "will be open to fans, and admission is free, but fans are encouraged to bring a tin for the bin in support" of local nonprofit Winnipeg Harvest (GLOBALNEWS.ca, 6/12).
EVEN THE LITTLE GUYS: In Ottawa, Luke Carroll notes it is "not just large cities hosting big events," as one viewing party on Monday night was in Almonte (Ontario), the birthplace of basketball’s founder, James Naismith. Almonte Town Hall tonight "will once again be showing the game on an outdoor television screen to an expected 500 fans." Mississippi Mills (Ontario) Community & Economic Cultural Coordinator Tiffany MacLaren said that her town is "prepared to show it inside to about 250 fans if the weather doesn’t cooperate" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 6/13). Raptors fans can also watch tonight's game at dozens of movie theaters throughout the country (THE DAILY).
U.S. SUPPORT: Rockford, Ill., the hometown of Raptors G Fred VanVleet, on Monday night saw 3,500 people make their way downtown to "Jurassic Park RKFD," which will return for tonight's game. The "free community watch party is at the City Market Pavilion." There will be a "FVV Shop Pop-Up Store" where fans can "buy VanVleet-inspired apparel, a pregame DJ party and VanVleet signage for photo opportunities" (ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR, 6/13). In S.F., sports bar Table Top House is hosting a viewing party for Raptors fans that live in the Bay Area (THE DAILY).