Brace yourselves: for the first time since 2002, the Toronto Raptors and Maple Leafs are headed to the post-season at the same time. It is a fantastic time to be a Toronto sports fan. (Just try to ignore the Jays for now.)
Given this success, our beloved public space, informally known as Jurassic Park, will be quite busy over the next couple of weeks. With two playoff runs happening simultaneously, we have to ask this singularly important question: how exactly are the Raptors and Leafs fanbases going to split their time in Maple Leaf Square?
Since Toronto is still seen as a “hockey town” (mostly by lazy analysts, but the numbers do back it up), it’s long been assumed the Leafs would get preferential treatment in the post-season. And if there’s also one thing we’ve learned over the past two decades, it’s that Leafs fans aren’t always the best at, let’s say, sharing the spotlight. Just try getting a Raptors game shown on a TV in a sports bar instead of a Leaf game. Good luck. (The Leafs have also only been to the playoffs once in the past decade, so their fans are pretty hungry — as a Raptors fan, I can’t relate.)
Fortunately, MLSE has foreseen the coming Sports War and has provided a plan forward. To paraphrase Newman from Seinfeld, they’ll split the space in half!
As per the official MLSE press release, here’s the five-point tailgate plan:
- From game to game, Air Canada Centre will become a playoff hub for whichever team is playing at home. If the Leafs or Raptors are playing within the arena, the tailgate party in Maple Leaf Square will also be dedicated exclusively to that team;
- Both the Leafs and Raptors will host tailgate parties for away games, provided the other team is not playing a home game at the same time;
- If both teams play on the same day at different times, Maple Leaf Square will transition from one team’s tailgate party to the other after the first game of the day has concluded;
- If both teams play away games on the same day, at the same time, the Bremner Board will feature a split screen broadcast with both games shown simultaneously;
- If two games are being shown, Maple Leaf Square will also feature additional, smaller support screens.
Most of this makes total sense. The home game team should get control of the Square when they’re playing at the ACC. If both teams are on the road and playing on different nights, sure, turn the Square over to whichever fanbase is active that night. I see no problems here — yet.
Then we get to point number 4, which is a doozy. If both the Raptors and Leafs are on the road and playing on the same night, both games will be shown on the big screen (with a split screen! and with smaller supplementary screens!) This seems like an ambitious plan, to say the least. Let’s hope everyone can keep cool and remember: we Torontonians are all in this together.
(And Leaf fans are welcome to join in on the Raptors parties once the hockey club is knocked out.)