There’s no place like home, so the saying goes. By the way fans have been filling up Air Canada Centre this season, they would agree. And by the way the Raptors have been playing at Air Canada Centre this season, (9-3 in 2014) they would agree too.
But on this week in 1999, the Toronto Raptors scuffed up two different so-called ‘home turfs’. Things changed.
On February 19, 1999 the Raptors played their final game at the then named SkyDome, their home since their inaugural season. They wrapped up the era outplaying the hottest team in the conference with a 90-82 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.
And on February 21, 1999 the Raptors played their first game on the new hardwood at Air Canada Centre, in front of a sold-out crowd. It was a Canadian rivalry between the Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies to start things off. Vince Carter led the Raptors to a 102-87 victory on opening night. The Raptors also went 6 for 14 from beyond the arc and five days later the 3-point streak of 986 games began. The Raptors set NBA attendance records for their first three seasons in their new home thanks to their sixth man, the fans.
(The Raptors also played their final game – six in total — at Maple Leaf Gardens on February 9, 1999.)
It’s been 15 years since Air Canada Centre became home to the Raptors. The following video captures the pregame ceremonies on opening night. David Stern was in attendance, Herbie Kuhn, the in-arena voice of the Raptors has been amping up fans since day one and the game ball delivery by the Raptor is a must see: