Toronto Raptors fans flock to Jurassic Park for 'crazy' experience
Fans describe 'unexplainable buzz' outside Toronto's Air Canada Centre for playoff games
Loud. Intense. Electric.
These are the words used to describe the vibe in downtown Toronto when Canada's only NBA team is in the playoffs.
If you're a passionate Toronto Raptors fan looking for a cool spot to catch the big game, Jurassic Park is the place to be.
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"It's crazy," says 22-year-old Angelo Anor, who stood outside the Air Canada Centre to watch Game 1 of Toronto's playoff series against the Indiana Pacers on Saturday.
"This is something you have to experience if you're a Raptors fan and even if you're not, it's worth going to cheer on your city."
The ACC has been the home of the Raptors since it opened in 1999. In 2010, a massive video screen was added outside of the arena to provide fans with a gathering space to watch their teams.
The plaza is officially known as Maple Leaf Square, but when the Raptors are in the playoffs as they've been every year since 2014, fans convert the space to the more appropriately-named Jurassic Park.
With more than 5,000 fans packed between Bay and York streets and thousands more filling the block all the way down Bremner Boulevard, fans say you can feel the vibrations after a raucous play that gets the crowd amped up with excitement.
I said this last year, but the crowd in Jurassic Park is what the Toronto I know really looks like. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RTZ?src=hash">#RTZ</a>—@DanielSquizzato
Anor says he saw fans pack the plaza while watching playoff games on television and knew he had to take part in the experience.
"Everyone has the same interest, supporting the same team," he says.
"There was easily a couple thousand people ... I didn't see one Pacer jersey."
It's that unison of spirit that brought Stephen Nano to Jurassic Park for Game 1.
"It's really tough to get a ticket, especially for a decent price," he says. "I would personally love to go to the game, but besides going to the game, this is the closest you can get to a playoff atmosphere."
Nano says he experienced it for the first time over the weekend and was blown away.
"There's an unexplainable buzz ... almost like a pit in your stomach with excitement," he explains, adding how the outpouring of emotions outside the arena replicates the atmosphere inside.
"There's a sense of camaraderie," he says. "I can share my emotions with a complete stranger."
In a nutshell, Jurassic Park gives fans a public space to spill their emotions and unite behind a single banner.
"It's loud, there's people pumping up the crowd and everyone's just talking about basketball," Anor says.
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/JurassicPark?src=hash">#JurassicPark</a> always gives me goosebumps. Power of the fans <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WeTheNorth?src=hash">#WeTheNorth</a> <a href="https://t.co/d5tWOul3L2">https://t.co/d5tWOul3L2</a>—@kirstinestewart
So if you can't afford a ticket for Game 2, which were selling Monday morning for more than $100 each on StubHub.com, but you still want to be part of the action, Jurassic Park is an option that should only cost fans their voice for a few days.
But if you ask diehard fans like Anor, they'll tell you it was worth it — and they'll be back for one simple reason:
"I just wanted to be a part of it."