Expecting large crowds outside the Toronto Raptors’ Scotiabank Arena for Game 5 of the NBA finals, city officials are urging those planning to drive downtown on Monday to consider alternative transportation.
Toronto says five extra subway trains and 25 additional buses will be on hand Monday evening, and released a statement urging drivers to reconsider heading into the core: “The City of Toronto encourages the public, who would normally drive into the downtown core on Monday, to plan their trip ahead. Please consider riding public transit, cycling, walking, taxi or ride hailing.”
While weather forecasts have warned of rain through the day and for most of the evening, the city says its officials, police and staff with team owners Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment have been co-ordinating on plans to deal with the thousands of basketball fans that could descend on the area.
Toronto leads the best-of-seven series 3 games to 1, and could beat the Golden State Warriors and win the first ever NBA championship awarded on Canadian soil on Monday night. With the game starting at 9 p.m. Eastern, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders has said his force has plans in place to deal with unruly crowds, but he expects a civil celebration.
Maple Leaf Square, known as “Jurassic Park” where large crowds watch the game on big screens, will be closed to car traffic starting from 7 a.m. on Monday – 14 hours before tip-off. A handful of fans have already been camping out for days in advance for a prime spot inside the square itself, which normally holds about 5,000 people.
Jurassic Park straddles part of Bremner Boulevard from Lake Shore Boulevard West to York Street, and will remain closed to cars until 2 a.m. Tuesday.
York Street will be shut between Lake Shore Boulevard West and Front Street West, as early as 9 a.m. Monday, along with Bremner from Lower Simcoe Street to York Street. At 5 p.m., another section of Bremner further west, from Lower Simcoe Street to Rees Street, will be closed to cars, in anticipation of thousands of spillover fans.
Police say there could be more closings or restrictions if required.