Jurassic Park is back for the NBA playoffs after three-year absence

Jurassic Park is returning to Maple Leaf Square for the first time since the Raptors clinched an NBA title in 2019.

The tailgate parties were a long-time fixture of Raptors postseason games but haven’t been held for three years now, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the team’s failure to qualify for the NBA playoffs last year.

That, however, is about to change.

Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment has announced that the parties will return for both road and home games during the duration of the NBA playoffs, beginning with Game 1 of the Raptors first rounder series with the Philadelphia 76ers this Saturday evening.

Maple Leaf fans will also be able to fill the square to cheer on their team in the playoffs upon the conclusion of the NHL regular season later this month.

“The last time we had a tailgate down here was Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals and obviously we all know the Toronto Raptors won that one and the fans are going to be thrilled to be back here,” Nick Eaves, MLSE’s chief venues and operations officer, told CP24 on Tuesday. “This Saturday night tip off is at 6 p.m. and we can’t wait for fans to come down and enjoy all the same old tailgate action that they haven’t been able to enjoy for a couple of years now.”

In order to accommodate the tailgates Maple Leaf Square will be closed to vehicular traffic throughout the duration of the NBA and NHL playoffs.

MLSE also says that Bremner Boulevard could be closed between Maple Leaf Square and York Street “on a game by game basis” to accommodate additional fans.

Fans interested in attending one of the tailgates will be able to do so free of charge but unlike in previous years they will have to register for a pass on the Scotiabank Arena website. The passes will be available 48 hours prior to each road and home playoff games.

“That will just allow for, you know, a more orderly access and egress and things like that. So in addition to it being a thrilling environment it’s going to be a safe environment,” Eaves said. “We got a sort of an expandable space down here so as crowds arrive for the tailgates we’ll take advantage of additional space.”

Eaves said that masks will not be required at Raptors and Leafs tailgates but are “strongly recommended.”

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