• The Toronto Raptors lost to the Philadelphia 76ers 131-111 in Game 1. The playoff series continues in Philadelphia on Monday.

The Toronto Raptors reopened Jurassic Park outside Scotiabank Arena for fans on Saturday after COVID-19 restrictions kept the courtyard closed for two years.

Thousands of fans poured into the large courtyard on the arena’s west side to watch Game 1 of the first-round playoff series between the Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers. The game itself was held in Philadelphia.

Raptors fans gather in the large courtyard on Scotiabank Arena’s west side where they watched Game 1 of the first-round playoff series between the Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers. (Alex Lupul/CBC)

Vera Perez said she’s happy to be able to watch the Raptors play once again in a public setting, but said she will still keep her mask on.

“I’m still 50-50, so that’s why I’m still protecting myself … I am not 100 per cent,” she told CBC News.

“I am vaccinated though … but hopefully this will go away, go away, you know. We have an elderly [person] and we have young kids, so it’s better to be protected.”

The big screen at Jurassic Park can be seen reflected in a fan’s sunglasses during the Toronto Raptors game Saturday. (Alex Lupul/CBC)

Jessie Cabacos also had a mask on, but said he’s thinking less about COVID-19 — especially with the vaccines available.

He said he was more concerned about a Raptors win.

“It’s amazing. It feels great to be here. The energy is going to be amazing,” Cabacos said.

A fan wears a hot pepper costume — a nod to Raptors power forward Pascal Siakam’s nickname ‘Spicy P’— while watching Sunday’s game on the big screen outside Scotiabank Arena. (Alex Lupul/CBC)

‘We’ve been waiting 3 years almost for this’

Velda Foster, watched the game with her son, Matthew Da Silva. She said she’s happy the pandemic restrictions are finally easing.

“We’ve been waiting three years almost for this. We were here the last time, so this is a homecoming,” Foster said. 

When asked if she was thinking about COVID-19 she said “no, not now. I think we’re good.”

“It’s outside, especially here in Jurassic Park, so just looking forward to seeing friendly faces and people that were here with us last time.

A fan looks out from behind a foam hand while watching the Toronto Raptors game with the Philadelphia 76ers. (Alex Lupul/CBC)

Da Silva expressed similar sentiments. “I feel safe. It’s good to be back, though, and to see everybody. It’s nice again,” he said.

“But I do have a mask with me, so if I need to I can put it on. But I think we’re fine out here.” 

A fan wears a mask while watching the game. (Alex Lupul/CBC)

In previous playoff runs, Jurassic Park became a ubiquitous gathering for fans and gained widespread attention during Toronto’s run to an NBA championship in 2019.

Toronto Raptors fans gather in Jurassic Park Saturday. ( Alex Lupul/CBC)

Toronto Mayor John Tory, who is in COVID-19 quarantine at home, earlier proclaimed Saturday Toronto Raptors Day.

Proud to proclaim today #TorontoRaptorsDay!

Have my lucky jacket on ready to cheer on the @Raptors tonight from home!

Looking forward to watching the #Raptors prove Shaq wrong and seeing fans gathered in #JurassicPark again!#WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/4qxtuGKHCN