The National Basketball Association has arrived in Victoria. The Toronto Raptors are at U-Vic preparing for a new season. Victoria is known as a basketball town and excitement is building on the Island for a chance to see Canada’s team. Andy Neal has more.
Their team slogan is “We The North”, but the Toronto Raptors have headed west to open training camp.
With camp closed to the public, the Raps are under wraps for now.
Fans will get their first look Thursday night at the team’s intrasquad game.
“Looking at the number of requests we’ve had for tickets, I know personally the number of emails and texts that I’ve had,” University of Victoria Vikes Athletics and Recreation Director Clint Hamilton said.
“Just speaks to a lot of excitement around that team being here for their training camp.”
Intrasquad game tickets at the near twenty-one hundred seat CARSA facility at UVic were sold out in 20 minutes.
Fans have shown how desperate they are to see Raptors basketball, willing to pay on usedvictoria.com three-figure prices to go.
One basketball fan may have found good news.
“A gold seat, which is what I’m looking for for a hundred and 23 dollars,” Oak Bay resident and basketball fan Michael Maitland said.
“So that’s a reasonable price at the gold level. So, wait for a response, really.”
With fans getting their chance to see their basketball heroes up close, it’s put pressure on sports merchandise stores to keep up with the demand.
“Jerseys flying off the shelves, we’ve only got a couple left over,” Out Of Bounds Sports Assistant Manager Chris Furtado said.
“West Shore store has been bringing us a lot of product lately for it. Probably about 30 or 40 people a day looking for anything Raptors.”
Amelia Ack is a first-year Vikes’ basketball player from Olympia, Washington, who has special feelings for the NBA.
“Yeah, we want the Sonics back,” Ack said.
An opportunity for Vikes players to see the pros up close.
“Just understanding or getting a better sense of the mental state that they have to be at to perform at that level would be really cool,” Ack said.
“And just, I guess, just being around them and seeing them play.”
Anyone without a ticket still has a chance to go to the intrasquad game.
Standing room will be available on a first come-first serve basis, by donation, starting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon.