If you’re planning to celebrate Game 5 of the NBA Finals in downtown Toronto, you are encouraged to plan ahead as road closures will be in effect.
Tens of thousands of people are expected to fill city streets as Canada’s only NBA team tries to become the first outside of the U.S. to clinch an NBA title.
In a Sunday news release, residents are being asked to avoid driving downtown and consider using public transit. The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) will be running five additional trains and 25 more buses than normal for before and after the Raptors game against the Golden State Warriors.
Watch: Raptors fans were lining for a spot at Jurassic Park days before Game 5 on Monday. Story continues below.
Meanwhile, members of the Toronto Police Service will be stationed around the town for “public safety purposes,” according to the city. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE), the parent company of the Raptors, will co-ordinate with police and other officials to manage the crowds before, during and after the game.
“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,” Toronto Police spokeswoman Katrina Arrogante told the Canadian Press via email.
Toronto Mayor John Tory said he wants everyone to be safe while the country cheers on the Raptors.
“I’m encouraging all residents who are attending NBA Finals festivities to use the TTC and to keep cheering on our team responsibly,” Tory said in a statement. “I’ve been assured that Police, TTC, City staff and MLSE have plans in place that will keep the public safe and allow everyone to share in the fun.”
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said police have a plan to keep the city safe on Monday.
“Police will be present and helping Toronto cheer the Raptors on,” the chief tweeted.
Raptors “superfan” Nav Bhatia gave his own statement to Canadian fans on Breakfast Television Toronto ahead of Game 5.
“I wish you best of luck. We are going to get it done tonight and we are going to get it done and we are going to start celebrating at 11:30 or 12 o’clock tonight and we are going to celebrate for the rest of the week.”
The excitement has spread far beyond Toronto, with outdoor viewing spaces being forced to expand as Raptors fever spreads.
Fans in Halifax can 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 at the venue is the largest in Canada, and — at more than 630 square metres — is even bigger than a standard NBA basketball court.
There are plans to hold as many as 30,000 people in Mississauga, Ont., at an outdoor screening of the game. Officials in the city west of Toronto are urging fans to be respectful of surrounding people and property.
Back in Toronto, the team’s owner said it is amping up its usual outdoor viewing party by planning multiple giveaways and setting up additional screens in Maple Leaf Square — the area for fans outside Scotiabank Arena that is also known as Jurassic Park.
Due to the expected throngs of fans, Maple Leaf Square, along with several surrounding roads, will be closed to traffic from 7 a.m. Monday until 2 a.m. Tuesday, according to city spokesman Brad Ross.
And if you think the rain will stop fans from flooding the streets of Toronto, think again. Fans have been lining up for days to get seats in the raucus Jurassic Park, with some camping out in tents for a chance to watch the game outside.
On Friday night, fans shut down a busy intersection in the downtown core as they celebrated the Game 4 win. Videos on social media show fans jumping on police cruisers and other vehicles following previous Raptors victories.
With files from the Canadian Press