TORONTO, Canada (AFP) – Thousands of passionate supporters will be roaring and dancing in “Jurassic Park” outside Scotiabank Arena during the NBA Finals while the Toronto Raptors hunt for Canada’s first NBA title.
The special atmosphere for devoted fans watching on a giant television screen on the west side of the arena has become a gathering place as Raptors backers from across Canada line up for six or seven hours just for the chance to watch games on TV with thousands of fellow supporters.
“These are the passionate fans,” said Jay Prateek, who lives in a condo in a nearby high-rise. “It’s crazy. It’s a lot of fun just because the atmosphere is so much fun. You have the chance to be part of it.”
“People are coming from all over, from London and Hamilton and other cities. You can watch at a restaurant with a dozen people or so or you can be out here with hundreds of people.”
It’s a sea of red-clad people waiting to be thrilled by Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry as they lead the Raptors in their first NBA Finals and looking to boo the defending champion Golden State Warriors.
People queue for hours – around the arena and through a tunnel to beyond the train station bringing people from all over to Toronto – just to make sure they have a place to stand in the area, usually a parking garage exit area with a few adjacent shops. Once security opens the area, fans rush for the nearest spots to the big screen and the pre-game television booths constructed Wednesday, where shows will use the crowd as a backdrop for their analysis of events.