Raptors' co-founder on Kawhi Leonard, Drake and another Canadian NBA team
The Toronto Raptors have come a long way since they made their splashy debut at the SkyDome in 1995. With the team facing off against the Golden State Warriors in its first-ever NBA Finals series, enthusiasm for the franchise has never been more electric. The surge in ticket prices and concession items certainly attest to that level of fan interest. But looking back at the Raptors’ early years, it appears the team has always inspired a strong following. Average attendance during its inaugural season was beyond capacity, a trend that continues today.
Below is a by-the-numbers snapshot of how the franchise has grown since the days of purple jerseys emblazoned with a cartoon dinosaur wearing shoes. Prices listed are not adjusted for inflation.
23,178: The average attendance at Raptors home games in 1996. At the time, capacity for basketball games at the SkyDome — where the Raptors played during their first three seasons (and since renamed the Rogers Centre) — was 22,911. Rogers paid $25 million in 2004 to acquire and rebrand the facility.
US$70.89: The average ticket price at a Raptors home game in the current 2018-19 season, up 6.6 per cent from the previous season.
US$217 million: The franchise value of the Toronto Raptors in 2003, according to Forbes.
US$1.7 billion: The franchise value of the Toronto Raptors in 2019, an increase of 222 per cent over the last five years, according to Forbes.
$50-$60: What one fan said he paid in 1996 to acquire a Toronto Raptors Damon Stoudemire jersey from its original owner. He is reselling the jersey today for $130. Stoudemire was named Rookie of the Year in the 1995-96 season.
$139.99: The retail cost of a Toronto Raptors Kawhi Leonard jersey.
78 cents US: The cost of a hot dog at a Raptors game in 1995-96.
US$2.76: The cost of a beer at a Raptors game in 1995-96.
US$5.86: The cost of a hot dog at a Raptors game in 2018-19.
US$8.69: The cost of a beer at a Raptors game in 2018-19.
US$11.5 million: The approximate total worth of Vince Carter’s six-year deal with Nike he signed in 2000. That works out to be about US$1.9 million a year.
$30 million: The amount Air Canada paid for the naming rights to the arena that would become the Raptors’ home base in the 1998-99 season.
US$5 million: The estimated annual value of Kawhi Leonard’s multi-year deal with New Balance he signed in 2018.
$800 million: The amount the Bank of Nova Scotia paid to rebrand the Air Canada Centre as Scotiabank Arena over the next 20 years.