‘A fairly particular evening’: Regina, Saskatoon internet hosting screenings as Raptors tackle Warriors in Recreation 6

Basketball fans in Saskatchewan will once again have the chance on Thursday to come together to witness the ups and downs of the Toronto Raptors.

Both Mosaic Stadium in Regina and Civic Square in Saskatoon will host screenings of Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Thursday — and Regina fans will also get to watch the Riders take on the Tiger-Cats in their regular season opener.

With Toronto leading the best-of-seven series against the Golden State Warriors 3-2, Thursday’s game could end the series — and bring a major professional sports league title to Canada for the first time in over 25 years.

For a screening of Game 5 on Monday night, Mosaic Stadium organizers were expecting around 5,000 people. Around 13,000 showed up.

Tim Reid, president and CEO of the Regina Exhibition Association, said organizers are prepared for upwards of 20,000 on Thursday.

“Essentially, that means we’re ready for the full concept of a Riders game,” Reid said.

That means Gates 2, 3, and 4 will be open for fans and security will be doing bag checks. As well, the majority of stores and restaurants on the main concourse level will be open.

Parking at Mosaic will be very limited, Reid warned, because a number of larger vehicles will be unloading for Canada’s Farm Progress Show. 

Organizers expect 20,000 people to take part in the free viewing of Game 6 of the NBA Finals at Mosaic Stadium on Thursday night. (Matt Howard/CBC)

Regina sports fans will also get to watch the Roughriders at Mosaic on Thursday, after the kickoff time for their season opener against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats was moved up by 30 minutes to try to reduce conflict with the NBA game.

“I think the CFL, and certainly the Riders, are embracing the fact that this is a special moment across our country,” Reid said. “It’s a pretty special night.”

The CFL game will start on the big screen at 5 p.m. CST, with doors opening at 4:30.

Tipoff for the Raptors game is 7 p.m. CST, at which point the big screen at Mosaic will transition to the basketball game, and the Roughriders game will play on the secondary screen. 

“It should be a great night of celebration and fun,” Reid said. 

T-rex burger challenge for charity

Reid said on Monday night, because turnout was significantly higher than expected, Mosaic wasn’t staffed to handle the crowd. Some fans complained about unusually long wait times for popcorn and drinks. 

Reid said people should expect the same wait times for food and drinks as a Riders home game on Thursday.

The main concourse will also host a food challenge to raise donations for the Regina Food Bank. Fifty “T-rex burgers” will be offered up for hungry fans to attempt to eat.

“It’s going to be one kilogram of beef, one pound of bacon, one pound of lettuce, on a giant bun,” Reid said. “If you can eat that, we’re going to donate 100 pounds of … local ground beef to the food bank.”

Around 13,000 people gathered to watch the Toronto Raptors take on the Golden State Warriors at Mosaic Stadium on Monday night. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

For Reid, the most important aspect of Thursday will be for people who haven’t been in Mosaic Stadium before to take the opportunity to see the stadium for free. On Monday, he said he saw a number of new faces. 

“It was a really great community night. And I’ve shared that with others, is that this is a different demographic than a football game,” he said.

“But it is a great family environment.… We’re encouraging everybody to bring your friends, bring your neighbours. We want to make sure that this is the best party in all of Canada.”

If the Raptors aren’t able to pull off the win Thursday, there will be more basketball at Mosaic Stadium for Game 7, Reid said.

Saskatoon fans flock to Civic Square

Basketball fans in Saskatoon will also have the chance to come together. 

The Saskatoon Rattlers of the Canadian Elite Basketball League have hosted screening for the past couple of games downtown. While the team is out of town, the Downtown Saskatoon Business Improvement District is subbing in.

The organization will host a Game 6 screening in Civic Square at Saskatoon’s city hall on Thursday. For those wanting to see the pregame, the screening will start at 6 p.m. CST.

Around 500 people gathered to watch Game 5 in Saskatoon on Monday night. The event was hosted by the Saskatoon Rattlers. (Submitted by the Saskatoon Rattlers)

“What we’re hoping is as a great family atmosphere. We’re crossing our fingers for great weather,” Downtown Saskatoon Business Improvement District executive director Brent Penner said. “And hopefully watch history being made.” 

People are encouraged to bring a lawn chair, along with food and drink, or purchase some downtown. Food trucks and vending carts will be on site as well for attendees. Alcohol is not allowed on site.

Civic Square will once again host a viewing party of Game 6 on Thursday. (Submitted by Saskatoon Rattlers)

About 500 people came out for the previous game screenings hosted by the Rattlers, Penner said, and they’re hoping for the same number on Thursday.

“It’ll be a good atmosphere and the energy that 500 people bring,” he said. “I think it will be pretty neat, and cross our fingers that the Raptors can bring it home tomorrow.”

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