Windsor gears up for ‘We the North’

"Jurassic Park", the open-air space outside Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, is seen during Game 6 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals on May 25, 2019. Photo by Michael Hugall.

Toronto Raptors fans will be able to watch their team from the heart of downtown Windsor.

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE), which owns and operates the Raptors, Maple Leafs, and other Toronto teams, has chosen Windsor as one of several cities across the province to host a sanctioned viewing event, similar to those at the Jurassic Park venue outside Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. A viewing party will take place Sunday night as the Raptors take on the Golden State Warriors in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

Jason Moore, senior manager of communications and customer service for the city of Windsor, confirmed to that the viewing party will take place at Charles Clark Square, though it is not a city-sanctioned event. The party is being organized locally by Renaldo Agostino, the CEO of Windsor-based Element Entertainment.

“We want to thank MLSE, the owners of the Raptors, for giving Windsor this great opportunity,” Agostino said in a media release. “We’ve had a great response from local partners and the city of Windsor to bring this event to life.”

Thousands of Raptors fans have gathered before every Raptors game during the NBA playoffs, some lining up twelve hours or more in advance, for an interactive viewing party complete with activities and live music. Videos and photos broadcast on TV and posted on social media show frenzied fans watching every game.

The Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association (DWBIA) and Tourism Windsor Essex and Pelee Island (TWEPI) are sponsoring the event, and are encouraging even the most casual basketball fan, even Pistons fans from Detroit, to join the celebration.

“With Raptors tickets being the toughest ticket to find in North America, we’re excited to have the second-best option available in downtown Windsor as our region shows their Canadian pride when they cheer on the Raptors together,” said TWEPI president and CEO Gordon Orr. “We may be known as the only part of Canada south of America, but we can’t wait to see all of Windsor-Essex cheering ‘We the North’ together in Charles Clark Square.”

The viewing party is free and open to all ages, and will include food concessions and a licenced bar. Fans are urged to arrive early and bring lawn chairs or blankets. The event begins at 7 p.m. with tipoff scheduled for just after 8 p.m.