Raptors wrap up season with best attendance in years

Toronto, April 18 (IANS) Toronto Raptors completed their 2012-13 season with a 114-90 victory over the Boston Celtics in NBA action.

The team also finished with a total attendance of 743,936 fans, the highest since the 2008-09 season, reports Xinhua.

The 18,144 average home attendance ranks the Raptors 13th in the league this season, despite being a non-playoff team. Of the 41 home games played, 11 have been sell-outs, a number that is also the team’s highest in four years.

Raptors head coach Dwane Casey is not surprised by the strong fan support throughout the season.

“We have some of the best fans in the NBA. I don’t think we get the respect that we deserve from the NBA because we’re up here in Canada,” said Casey during the post-game press conference.

Despite the improving attendance figures, the team is still far from matching the success experienced during their inaugural season and the Vince Carter era. The 1995-96 debut season saw the Raptors ranked third in the league with 950,330 total fans, an average of 23,179, both franchise highs. However, only 14 of the 41 games resulted in sell-outs at SkyDome.

During the 1998-99 season, the team moved to the newly built Air Canada Centre, a stadium that has a capacity of 19,800. In the first six seasons in the Air Canada Centre, the Raptors ranked top 10 in attendance each season.

At the height of the six seasons was the 2001-02 season when the team ranked fourth in the league with 811,135 fans and average 19,784, both Air Canada Centre records. The most impressive feat of this season was the selling out of 40 of 41 games, a franchise record.

In the franchise’s 18 total seasons in the league, a total of 13,133,051 fans have attended the 714 home regular season games with 231 of them being sell-outs.

At SkyDome, 117 home games were played, six at Maple Leaf Gardens, and three at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario. The remaining 588 have been played at the Air Canada Centre since it opened for the 1998-99 season.

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