A Barrie crowd of more than 1,200 — many of whom were dressed in Raptors gear — erupted into cheers as the Toronto Raptors stormed their way to victory in what was a historic win for Canada in this year’s NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors.
There was under a minute left of the fourth quarter, and Raptors fans from Barrie and beyond had made their way from the Barrie Molson Centre’s seats to the arena’s rink. Many were jumping up and down, yelling with excitement.
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“I’m pumped — we’re going to party now,” Jeffery Naulls, a Toronto Raptors fan from Barrie, said after the city’s viewing party. Naulls has been watching the Raptors since they formed as a team. “We’re ready to go, we’re going to shoot off some fireworks.”
For Naulls, the highlights of Game 6 were watching Raptors players Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam.
The 2019 NBA Finals viewing party at the Barrie Molson Centre drew in more than 1,200 fans, many of whom were teenagers and families.
“I’d say the large majority of our clientele for all the games has been teenagers, high school age, and they’ve been excellent,” said Scott Knowles, the guest services supervisor with the Barrie Colts, whose home stadium is the Barrie Molson Centre. “There were ages from four to probably 60 in here so it was nice.”
The city’s NBA Finals viewing parties have been happening at the Barrie Molson Centre since Game 3.
According to Knowles, the arena’s biggest night for the NBA Finals viewing parties was on Monday, when the Raptors lost by one point to the Golden State Warriors.
“I think it’s a great idea for Barrie to support this kind of community engagement in a public setting,” said Andy Thomson, a fan from Barrie who attended the city’s viewing party Thursday night.
“I would say watching the Jurassic Parks across our nation is almost as exciting as the game itself,” Michele Mitchell, another fan at Barrie’s viewing party, added.
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This is the first time the City of Barrie has broadcast a sporting event live, said Lauren Maciborka, City of Barrie venue management supervisor for the creative economy department.
Ivy Kana was at the Barrie Molson Centre NBA Finals viewing party with her teenage son.
“I think it’s wonderful,” Kana said of the atmosphere. “We need this. There’s so much stuff going on with the world that we need good, we need excitement.”
Fans expressed how they wanted Kawhi Leonard, who was named Finals MVP, to re-sign with the Toronto Raptors.
“We want Kawhi to come back — that’s the main goal,” Naulls said.
“Obviously, the game came down to the wire so everybody was very tense but jubilant at the end,” Knowles said.
“It was stressful back and forth, but we came out on top — that’s all that matters,” Naulls said.