I consider myself a diehard sports fan. I’ll watch just about anything sports-related, I don’t even need a rooting interest. Yes, I’ve watched those strong man competitions on ESPN. And, a few frames of bowling (shudder, not a TV sport). I’ve had a bucket list item for quite some time to watch a game at every MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL stadium in the country before I kick that bucket. My recent travel has allowed me to knock a bunch of stadiums off the list. I figured since the NBA playoffs were still going on I would write up my visit to Air Canada Centre to see the Toronto Raptors face off against the Cleveland Cavaliers last week.
I don’t watch a ton of NBA basketball during the regular season but I do watch the playoffs. I had seen a Raptors playoff game on TV and had seen the crowds outside the Raptors’ stadium, Air Canada Centre. They call it “Jurassic Park”. Honestly, it was crazier than I thought.
It was so crazy for this playoff game, they had stacks of people lined up outside Jurassic Park watching the screen. It’s awesome that the fans are this excited about their team.
Inside, plenty of fan support as well. Almost wall to wall home jerseys, folks posing with cheerleaders, everyone happy to be there.
The food in the stadium is probably a notch above average for a stadium. Unsurprisingly, there was poutine. I’ve never been much a fan of it myself, so I didn’t partake.
And, there were a lot of hot dog places. Other than that, Mr. Sub and pizza ruled the day.
Thankfully, the Canadian beer balanced out the average food.
They also had one odd menu item, though I’ve been told by folks much cooler than me (thanks, Margaret Ferris) that it has something to do with Drake, arguably their most popular fan.
And, finally, they had one of these (of course).
There were a handful of fan interaction points in the stadium with large PS4 play areas that looked pretty fun.
Since it was the playoffs we didn’t buy tickets ahead of time. The Raptors had only advanced to the conference finals a week earlier. That meant our seats were, ahem, very high up. They’d literally be the last row if there wasn’t an actual “standing room only” row behind us. I’ve never been that high up in a stadium before.
Bottom Line It For Me, Ed
This was game 4 of the NBA Conference Finals, where the Raptors beat the Cavaliers. Even though the game was close from time to time, the Raptors prevailed in the end and the crowd was nuts the entire time. The energy of the stadium and Jurassic Park for the playoffs made up for the lack of good food options. The Canadian beer didn’t hurt, either. I’d go back, though I still need to knock off a Maple Leafs game in the same building.
For those keeping track at home, here’s a list of stadiums I’ve visited (28 as of now). There are also links for those that I’ve written about on the blog.
Sports fans, what does your list look like?
- Yankee Stadium (One Final Night of Magic)
- Camden Yards (Baltimore Orioles)
- PacBell Park (San Francisco Giants)
- Safeco Field (Seattle Mariners)
- Chase Field (Arizona Diamondbacks)
- Shea Stadium (New York Mets)
- Wrigley Field (Chicago Cubs)
- Comerica Park (Detroit Tigers)
- Coors Field (Colorado Rockies)
- Nationals Park (Washington Nationals)
- Rogers Centre (Toronto Blue Jays)
- Turner Field (Atlanta Braves)
- Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox)**The Red Sox will always be listed last any time I refer to baseball teams
- Giants Stadium (Giants and Jets)
- FedEx Field (Washington Redskins)
- Qwest Field (Seattle Seahawks)
- M&T Bank Stadium (Baltimore Ravens)
- Soldier Field (Chicago Bears)
- Candlestick Park (San Francisco 49ers)
- Pepsi Center (Denver Nuggets)
- Madison Square Garden (New York Knicks)
- Brendan Byrne/Continental Airlines Arena (New Jersey Nets)
- Verizon/MCI Center (Washington Wizards)
- United Center (Chicago Bulls)
- Pepsi Center (Colorado Avalanche)
- Madison Square Garden (New York Rangers)
- Verizon/MCI Center (Washington Capitals)
- HP Pavilion (San Jose Sharks)
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