At last night’s (long) triple-overtime Raptors’ loss to the Washington Wizards, we started out in the upper bowl. A couple of tickets were purchased off StubHub for the very reasonable price of $10 a pop. We were in the 15th row in the upper bowl. Not the best vantage point, but for less than the price of a beer at the Air Canada Centre, there wasn’t much to complain about.
People often talk about how the real fans are in the upper bowl and the lower bowl is filled with investment bankers entertaining clients. A simplistic view but when I took my seat, I found myself beside one of the realest fans I’ve seen. The guy was decked out in Raptors gear and had a Raptors flag to wave whenever something good happened. He had his extra-large pop by his feet to keep his vocal chords loose as he had a loud reaction to everything that happened on the court. He was ignoring whoever he went to the game with. Hopefully that person wasn’t expecting a conversation. I mean, this guy had tunnel vision.
Here’s an idea of just how passionate he was. About a couple minutes into the game. Kyle Lowry headed to the free throw line. “C’mon Kyle, hit these!” he yelled. Lowry hits the first of two. “Nice going, KL! Make the pair!” he screamed. Lowry makes the second. “Way to go, KL! Way to hit those free throws! Let’s go Raps! Get back on D!” When a fan gets THAT excited about free throws, you know you have a superfan on your hands. Anyway, I dug this guy’s enthusiasm but we ended moving a few seats down just so he wasn’t screaming in our ears.
After halftime, we snuck down to the lower bowl. Shh. We weren’t too close to the court but had a much better view. But things felt different. You had less screaming passionate fans. People’s clothes were noticeably nicer and more expensive. More people were looking down at their phones. It wasn’t all bad, of course. When good things happened for the Raptors, people cheered, which was great. But it was a far cry from cheering for made free throws in the opening moments of the game.
Anyway, once the third overtime hit, a lot of fans had headed home and we saw an opportunity. A few moments later, we were down in the sixth row, the best seats I had had in almost 10 years. And down in this section, a quick scan around me made me realize I was mostly surrounded by suits, both the type of person and the garment. I’m not saying I was surprised by the lessening passion, nicer clothes and higher number of Blackberries as I made my way closer and closer to the court. It’s to be expected. This would happen at any event with different ticket prices. But it was interesting to see the gradual change in demographics as one’s seat improved.
And late in the third overtime, I looked up to our original spot and made out the superfan from earlier. Still there, still waving his flag, still screaming himself hoarse. Still loving the experience from the nosebleeds.