While I am used to attending sporting events in just about every country you visit, I must admit that I hadn’t anticipated attending a basketball game in Toronto.
I didn’t know that Toronto was the only non-U.S. franchise to play in the NBA.
It was when I saw a game on TV in a restaurant on Sunday evening that I realized that. Perfect timing: the Toronto Raptors lead 3 – 1 against the Orlando Magic and play a decisive first round playoff game at home two days later.
It’s a unique opportunity I couldn’t miss.
So I quickly went to the official ticket sales website: TicketMaster.
Good news: there are still places available. Bad news: it’s expensive!
So I reserve one of the cheapest seats (the highest in the stadium) for $163 CDN. To get a seat at the edge of the floor, you have to pay more than 3,000 dollars!
No need to print your ticket, just post it on your phone.
On Tuesday night, I take the subway to the Scotiabank Arena, a 19,800-seat hall that is used for both the basketball and ice hockey clubs.
There’s excitement in the air because tonight, at the same time, Toronto is playing a decisive play off game at the same time in basketball and field hockey!
As a result, giant screens have been installed around the stadium so that fans can follow both matches at the same time.
I enter the ultra-modern enclosure, the temple of consumption. You can drink, eat, buy goodies, take part in a lottery, …
To play the game to the fullest, I treat myself to this gastronomic hot dog / fries for the modest sum of $12.5.
Here you can even order a beer, popcorn or a slice of pizza on your mobile application that will be brought directly to your headquarters. Class (or not)!
I easily find my place (wow, it’s huge!) and notice that even at high altitude, the visibility is excellent.
On each seat is a T-shirt (size L, which must correspond to a French XXL) in the red colors of the Raptors. All spectators are invited to put it on.
We are also distributed cardboard signs. Unfolded, the sign allows the Toronto anthem “We The North” to be played (a reference to the fact that this is the only Canadian NBA team). When folded, the sign allows you to make a noise by clapping your hand.
Everybody gets up to listen to the singer interpreting acapella the hymns of the United States and then Canada. The hall isn’t 100% full but it is very well filled.
Then comes the presentation of the players, under the whistles of the public for Orlando.
For the raptors, it’s a real American-style show that you’re entitled to: extinguished arena, smoke games and even … mini fireworks!
The match starts and very quickly, and that’s my only regret, the suspense won’t last long.
After seven minutes of play, Toronto leads by an impressive 22-3, leaving no doubt as to the outcome of the game.
At each time-out, it is the American-style show as we imagine it to be played: hip-hop dancers, goodies sent to the stands or the display of supporters on giant screens.
Team star Kawhi Leonard came out at the end of the game with 27 points and the stadium chanting “MVP”, inviting the NBA to award him the Most Valuable Player trophy at the end of the season.
Orlando understands quite quickly that they don’t stand a chance and it is the substitutes of both teams who will finish the match which will end with a score of 115 – 96.
In conclusion, I had a great night, it’s not every day that you get to see an NBA game, let alone a playoff game! However, I would have preferred a tighter fight, the intensity on the floor and in the stands would have been tenfold.
In field hockey, Toronto lost and since Montreal didn’t make it to the playoffs, I’m not sure if I’ll get to see an NHL game. Maybe in the United States?
EDIT June 13, 2019 : A few weeks later, the Raptors win the first NBA title in their history. What luck to have seen them play!