That’s what to expect today, especially in the downtown core, as the Toronto Raptors take on the Golden State Warriors in Game 5 of the NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena.
With the Raptors being one win away from an NBA title — and franchise history — city, police, transit and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) staff have been busy preparing crowd management plans for what could be a historic game.
“Toronto, and the entire country, is rooting for our Raptors,” said Mayor John Tory in a media statement, urging fans to “keep cheering on our team responsibly.”
Toronto Police Service Superintendent Michael Barsky, of 52 Division, is “looking forward to a great night. …We expect a big win from our Raptors.”
“You never really how the night will evolve with fans when they celebrate, so we just encourage people to be responsible,” he told the Star. “This is one of those historic-type events and you’d rather be part of it for the right reasons than the wrong reasons.”
A detailed list of road closures — some starting as early as 7 a.m. Monday — was released on Sunday. Anyone who normally drives downtown on Monday is being urged to consider riding public transit, cycling, walking, taxi or ride hailing.
The TTC will have additional service today to get people into and out of downtown, with an extra five trains and 25 buses running before and after the game, which starts at 9 p.m. Also, the TTC’s Blue Night Network will run all night.
Metrolinx also announced that starting at halftime of the game, the Union Station Bus Terminal will be closed. Buses that usually go through the terminal will be detoured.
For Routes 61, 65, and 71, all GO bus trips will begin and end at Hwy. 407 Station. People can use their GO fare on the TTC between Hwy. 407 Station and Union.
For Routes 21 and 31, all GO bus trips will begin and end at Port Credit GO. Metrolinx has advised customers to take the Lakeshore West train to go between Port Credit and Union.
Route 16 has been suspended entirely. The provincial transit agency is advising customers to take the Route 18 bus from Hamilton GO to Aldershot GO, and continue on the Lakeshore West train to Union, and vice versa if you’re travelling from Union to Hamilton.
Around Jurassic Park — the viewing area outside the arena that’s been drawing thousands of fans — there will be a strong MLSE security and police presence. Toronto Fire Services and paramedics will also be on-hand. Police will also be at other outdoor public viewing parties across the city.
If the Raptors do win, officers will be redeployed from Jurassic Park area to streets such as Yonge Street, which was flooded with jubilant fans after the Raptors won the Eastern Conference championship.
Barsky wouldn’t reveal how many extra officers will be working, other than to say, “We have the appropriate police presence on the ground and everybody will be safe.” But he said they’re preparing for tonight to be akin to other championship victories, such as when the Blue Jays won the World Series in 1992 and 1993, and the Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup in 1967.
In addition to Jurassic Park, there are scores of other public viewing parties planned — MLSE says there are 56 outdoor viewing parties, and about 36 Cineplex movie theatres, screening the Finals.
In downtown Mississauga, where Celebration Square has been transformed into so-called Jurassic Park West, a crowd of about 25,000 is expected for today’s game.
Melissa Agius, manager of the square, said in an email that city staff is working closely with emergency services “to ensure a positive and safe event” and that “intermittent road closures will be used at half time and at end of game to ensure pedestrian safety.”
“If the Raptors win, it will have been wonderful to have been part of the experience,” said Agius.
As for what’s planned in the event that Toronto does clinch the championship, neither the city nor MLSE will comment.
“While we have tremendous confidence in the team and its dedicated fans — Toronto is not going to ‘count chickens before they hatch,’” said city spokesperson Brad Ross.
Here’s the list of street closures around the arena, although more could be added if necessary.
- Maple Leaf Square (Bremner Boulevard from Lake Shore Boulevard West to York Street) from 7 a.m. on Monday until 2 a.m. on Tuesday.
- York Street (between Lake Shore Boulevard West and Front Street West) and Bremner Boulevard (between Lower Simcoe Street and York Street) from 9 a.m. on Monday, until 2 a.m. on Tuesday.
- Bremner Boulevard, from Lower Simcoe Street to Rees Street, from 5 p.m. on Monday, until 2 a.m. on Tuesday.
With files from Ilya Banares
Source: The Toronto Star