2. A return of the Raptors to their original home
A Toronto Raptors game back at the Rogers Centre could be a remarkable night to showcase the growth of basketball in Canada. But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.
From 1995 to 1999, the Raptors — clad in purple — played their home games at the cavernous Rogers Centre. The court was set askew to one side of the Toronto Blue Jays’ infield, with temporary seats on the vacant side to create a Russian nesting doll effect of an arena within an arena.
Before you eschew the idea of temporary seats, the idea being presented is slightly different to the previous setup. Yes the players will look like ants, but if the court was placed smack dab in the middle of the building, a Raptors game with an attendance of over 50,000 fans could be possible.
And that crowd would be outrageous. Something about the concrete prison vibes of the building brings out the extreme in Toronto sports fans.
Consider the insanity during the Toronto Blue Jays’ playoff runs in 2015 and 2016. Or the underrated matchup between Toronto FC and LA Galaxy that saw fans display massive tifos, and rain streamers (and something that definitely wasn’t a streamer) down on David Beckham.
I’m not suggesting anything that wild would be good for basketball. However, with ample availability of tickets and a venue known for unleashing the beast in Torontonians, it would almost be like bringing the atmosphere of Jurassic Park indoors.
Returning to an old venue in the NBA isn’t unprecedented. In 2017, the Milwaukee Bucks broke out throwback uniforms and a retro court design in their return to UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena — formerly known as the MECCA — which played host to Bucks games during the days of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
And that’s to say nothing of the potential money to be made for the club. The gate revenue would be immense, but the merchandise sales could be record-breaking, especially if the team chose to don those glorious throwback uniforms for the occasion.
Of course, there are more than a few logistical aspects to iron out, such as the relationship between MLSE and Rogers Communications. If the two sides could come to an agreement however, the Raptors could dig their claws into this city’s psyche a little deeper.