Councillor calls Windsor’s Raptors parties ‘amazing’

A We the North flag flies in support of the Toronto Raptors at Charles Clark Square, Windsor, June 11, 2019. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

The Toronto Raptors may be the centre of attention, but Windsor’s willingness to support them has impressed a city councillor.

Thousands of basketball fans have turned out in Charles Clark Square three times during the NBA Finals, as the Raptors take on the Golden State Warriors in the first-ever Finals appearance for a Canadian team. The square has been dubbed “Jurassic Clark”, Windsor’s version of the massive street viewing party outside Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena during Raptors playoff games.

Ward 3 Councillor Rino Bortolin told the city’s enthusiasm for the Raptors has exceeded everyone’s wildest dreams.

“It’s amazing,” said Bortolin. “There’s no other way to put it. I mean, it’s 2,700 or 2,800 people, then 3,300 or 3,400 people, and then almost 5,000 people… huge. It’s a testament to what these types of events do to bring a community together.”

Close to 5,000 people packed the square and the adjoining park near Windsor City Hall Monday night to watch Game 5 of the Finals, which the Raptors dropped 106-105. Along with the crowd size, Bortolin is impressed by the mix of faces in the crowd.

“When you’re there, the diversity in the crowd, the type of people who come out for these events really are a good cross-section of the city of Windsor, and creating a fun, family-free event,” said Bortolin, adding that he brought his own family downtown for one of the games.

Crowds for the three “Jurassic Clark” events have been generally happy and well-behaved, with Bortolin saying there have been no police incidents at any of the viewing parties.

Windsor was first chosen by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE), which owns the Raptors, for a sanctioned viewing party for Game 2. The arrangements have been made by local businessman Renaldo Agostino. There will be another viewing party for Game 6 on Thursday night.

Windsor Ward 3 councillor Rino Bortolin at LaGuardia’s Italian Cuisine, June 11, 2019. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.