It's not even good pizza!

There has been no shortage of reasons to be embarrassed to be a Raptors fan over the 17 years of the franchise’s existence. But there is one constant, recurring incident that never fails to make me feel like I’m rooting for a D-League team, and that is the reaction of fans at the Air Canada Centre when the Raptors break the 100-point mark in a game. You see, any time the Raptors score 100 points at a home game — regardless of whether they’re winning or losing — a distressing number of fans go crazy because they’re able to redeem their tickets for a free slice of cheese or pepperoni pizza at a Canadian restaurant chain.

Any time I attend a game and the Raptors start to approach the 100-point mark, some fans will inevitably start chanting “Pizza! Pizza! Pizza!” and I have to resist throwing toonies at them and yelling, “Here’s your slice! Now shut the hell up!” I know that these are tough economic times for some people, but if you can afford to go to a Raptors game, you can afford a slice of pizza.

Some of you might be thinking: “What kind of a monster criticizes people for celebrating free food?” This guy, that’s who. And I know I’m not alone on this issue. It’s one thing if the Raptors are winning — in that case, enjoy your free slices. Whatever.

But when fans at the Air Canada Centre cheer when the Raptors break 100 while they’re on their way to a crushing loss? That’s when I die a little bit inside. If you watched the end of last night’s loss to the Magic, you saw that it happened again.

It’s even worse when the Raptors are winning and stuck at 98 or 99 points as the clock is running out, because some fans will actually boo if a Raptor doesn’t try to break 100 points instead of dribbling out the clock. It’s one thing to have the rest of the league looking down at our team, do we need to give them a reason to look down on the fans, as well? Take it away, Stan Van Gundy…

“We got a standing ovation for a slice? Oh, they told me they got a free pizza. A slice, you got to sit in your seat and clap. You can’t stand up on a slice, I’m sorry, that’s bad etiquette.”

Stan’s awesome, and he’s right. Unfortunately, we’re not going to get the fans to stop cheering in moments like this because some people simply get excited for any kind of free stuff and nothing is going to change their behavior. That’s why the onus is on Bryan Colangelo to either cancel the promotion or change it so that the fans only get free pizza when the Raptors win. The way it’s set up now, it’s like a tacit admission that there is very little chance of the Raptors winning, so the franchise has to throw the fans a bone — er, slice — so they’ve got something to be happy about when they leave the arena.

I say the franchise and fans together need to have more pride. Between Charles Barkley claiming this team couldn’t beat the Kentucky Wildcats and the rest of the league thinking Raptors fans would rather win a free slice of pizza than win games, it’s harder than ever for me to look people in the eye and admit I root for this team.

Pizzagate update! One of my Score colleagues just tried to get a free slice with his printed-out ticket from last night’s game and was informed by a Pizza Pizza employee that you need to get your printout stamped at the ACC in order to get your slice. This is news to me. The Air Canada Centre, the Raptors and Pizza Pizza haven’t exactly gone out of their way to let us know about this condition, have they?

Comments (48)

  1. Most nights it’s the only thing to cheer for at the ACC. Fans were having flying poncho races at the TFC home opener when the team was down 3-0. Sad that sports fans in this city have to make their own entertainment at games, but you can hardly blame them.

  2. We need something to cheer about

  3. Hard to begrudge the fans any excitement they get these days.

    I don’t find the promotion embarrassing though. I could be wrong but I have watched a number of online streams of games not involving the Raptors, and seems like this type of promotion is used by a couple Squads. Can’t even remember who or in what fashion but I remember announcers talking about it.

    As for Barkley – prolly been discussed ad nauseum on this blog already – but don’t let Barkley’s inane comments effect you as a fan. EVERY year, no matter what, there is some tool, some where, saying the top college team could probably beat the worst teams in the L. This is especially true with College Football and Basketball. The only thing these people have in common is that they are always completely and utterly wrong about that prediction.

    • I went to a Trail Blazers game in 2007 or 2008 and they had the exact same promotion

    • It’s not as if fans go to games to get free pizza. I can’t imagine anyone NOT going because the Raptors stop the promotion. What it may do is give the franchise (and city) a little more respectability among players and coaches. Considering the LACK of respect the Raptors seem to have right now (see Barkley, Charles), it might be a good idea to end the embarrassment.

  4. Yes, take away the only thing Raps fans have to cheer for on nights like last night because the aesthetics of it are bad, and because SVG and Jameer Nelson mocked it. What a sound business decision that would be.

    Ignore the fact that the Raptors play in front of a packed house most nights and that the fans generally stay til the end even during debacles like last night and know how to cheer when they have reason to (the atmosphere for the Lakers game earlier this year was absolutely electric). Also ignore the fact that many other franchises endure much more embarrassing spectator trends, including empty seats and fairweather fans who need to be taught how to behave at a game (see Heat, Miami).

    I’m a weird ephemera collector so I’ve never cashed in a ticket from a sporting event for anything, let alone a $2 slice of pizza, but I find it ridiculous to begrudge the fans for getting a little bit excited about a fun promotion. Who cares what the rest of the league thinks? Those seats are full, which is more than can be said about markets like NO, NJ, or Indianapolis.

    • SVG’s comments were hilarious. He is consistently one of the funniest coaches in the NBA, along with Pop (in a very different way) and D’Antoni (who will be back, I’m sure). His digs about the etiquette for getting a slice vs winning a whole pizza were classic.

  5. people need something to cheer about
    its def not our team, specially with their ways of losing.
    in staples centre they offer free tacos
    and they are a much better team than raptors

    our teams are not doing well, because we cant attract good players here, how can you have a sense of pride each year after year when you are being disappointed!!

    fans pride does not win you basketball games!!! the players, staff and franchise does!!!

    if you feel so strong about this free slice and your TOONIE, why not offer it to them instead of trying to make them look cheap. at least they pride themselves in watching the game in ACC and not they MONEY!!

  6. I actually sent an email to MLSE about this and I asked them how they evaluate the success of this strategy with fans and ticket holders.

    • I’d be interested to know what kind of response you get.

      • In my experience, when you send an email to MLSE as a Season Seat-Holder, they never write you back – instead, they call you, try to be sympathetic and generally friendly, and let you vent a bit without ever committing to change anything. I’ve written them a few emails over the years about things like the decision to raise prices the second year we missed the playoffs by a few extra percent to eat up a refund that we would have otherwise received due to the implementation of the HST (yes, you read that correctly – there was due to be a 2% reduction because of the new tax regime but they raised prices by 3.5% and argued that it was just a 1.5% increase in real money), and the person to whom I’ve addressed them, be it Anselmi, Tannenbaum, Peddie, etc., never calls – instead, my ticket rep does, and that’s the end of it. I suspect it’ll be the same for CT.

        • They got back this morning. They acknowledge that it’s a hot topic and they admit that the promotion needs tweaking.

          They’re reassessing the promotion internally for next season (2012/13) and suggest to check back this summer for updates.

  7. I work at the ACC and have never heard nor seen any mention of this mysterious “stamp” that’s needed on printed tickets.

  8. Some cities offer free slices if the home team keeps the opposing team under 100 points.

    Promoting defence — what a novel idea. That’s a gimmick I could cheer for.

  9. Ok, I was at the game last night and was one chanting pizza, why? Well let’s see we knew we were going to loose by the middle of the third quarter so why the heck not and chant for pizza? If we weren’t going to get a win we at least got free pizza! It was fun and something to cheer about, because let’s face it Orlando was on fire from the start.

    It was a fun night and oh yes I’m getting my free pizza today why the heck not? Oh by the way did you want to give me some toonies too :P (a slice is 3.09$+tx) hahaha its team spirit!

  10. The free pizza excitement is actually a perfect representation for how bad the basketball product has been for too long.

    I can guarantee you that nobody would notice the select group of fans getting jacked up over free pizza if the Raptors played respectable basketball for a consistent period of time (ie at least 1 solid year). It’s unfair to criticize a fanbase that has been subjected to terrible, uncompetitive basketball for so long. Yes there are the odd games where the Raps do put up a fight, but we’ve been conditioned to expect lackluster effort. Why is it on us to be responsible and selective with our bitter scorn and half serious demands for Pizza?

    Getting rid of the promotion will only punish the fans further. To me, I see it as my one chance to publicly mock the management that has been mocking my intelligence as a fan for years. Because there’s nothing more insulting than fans not expecting or caring about a win, but demanding and expecting a free slice of pizza.

    It’s hilarious…and I’m willing to bet that at least 30% of the fans chanting Pizza have the same bitter, cynical tongue in cheek view on it that I have.

  11. Who cares? It’s not the fans fault that their having that promotion. Why do you think there’ a promotion anyways? The reason being that they don’t think that the Raptors are going to score 100 points anyways. When they do its a big suprise. I don’t care if they get a 100 points or not but don’t blame the fans for chanting free pizza.

  12. If they want to get rid of Pizza promotion in basketball, they might as well do the same thing for MLB, where if a Blue Jays pictures throws out eight strikes or more, the fans also gets a free of slice pizza…come on writers, don’t you better things to do then that?!!

    Speedy D25

  13. Well, it certainly speaks to how well the Raptors are doing if a journalist has to write an article about a pizza promotion.

    Really, I think you need to concentrate more on the sport, and not the promotions. I hate to break the news to you, but this happens in many leagues over many different sports. Deal with it, or quit whining.

  14. D25 got to it before I did, but the jays have a promotion as well with pizza pizza. As for the stamp on the printed tickets it says it on the website, and it makes perfect sense to have a stamp on the print outs to verify only one copy of that eticket was redeemed. As I’m writing this I’m enjoying my free slices of pizza ;)

  15. I don’t mind a pizza promotion (although, as you said, anyone who can afford Raptors tickets can afford to buy his own damn pizza … much better to give that money to a shelter or something helpful). But if we are going to have one, why not one based on things that are good for the team? Pizza if we win by more than 10 points. Pizza if we hold the other team below 100 points (or 90 or whatever). Pizza if Leo Rautins talks about never leaving your feet to block a shot. Anything but the current system.

  16. In all fairness to Raptors fans, this has also happened multiple times at the Rogers Centre during Blue Jays games. I’ve been there on occasions where “We Want Pizza” chants were audible across the stadium.

    Incredibly, one time it even happened during an “All You Can Eat” game.
    All this being said, I wouldn’t wish a slice from Pizza Pizza upon my worst enemy.

  17. What about simply offering a free slice of pizza for a WIN at home? Gives the fans two things to cheer about, without ruining the integrity of the game/team with pizza.

  18. The reason there was so much cheers yesterdays game because there were alot of students there and students love their Pizza!

  19. Who doesnt love pizza? But yeah it is kind of silly.

    BENJAMIN RAUCHER

  20. Best solution I have heard is to give the slice if the Raps win AND hold opponents under 100 points.

    The stamping thing has always been there, but they stopped announcing it a few years ago for some reason.

    Most fans cheer PEE-ZAA instead of DEE-FENCE when it gets close to 100. Ironically, thats when the Raps are defending. They need to score to get the Pizza. How nitpicky is that?

  21. Yeah i dont see the sense in getting rid of it , Leafs , Raps, TFC are all terrible teams . Hopefully the jays dont break our hearts this year, but hey they are a toronto team so i wont hold my breathe . If im going to spend my hard earned money to attend a game , going in knowing they will most likely lose ( unless there playing kentucky ) We have to be the most loyal fans around and pizza is the least they could give us

  22. The only thing to cheer about in half the raptor games I’ve been to is the pizza. Try having a better team and give us something to cheer about. Primo Pasta !

  23. Why did it take an off the cuff comment from Barkley and a harmless promotion to make people realize how much of a joke we are league wide?

    Haven’t they been paying attention to the product on the floor?

  24. Let me see… An over-priced, bland, disappontitng, over-hyped, under-performing product being cheered by Toronto fans? Sounds like MLSE might be running PizzaPizza too!

  25. i find the pizza promo to be tacky
    i remember last season i went to nets at raptors, one of the last home games of the season. it was a W but people booed at the end because the raptors only took it by like 97, they didn’t run up the score. how stupid is it to boo your team that just won because you won’t get a free $3 pepperoni slice? [also if you're excited by a PIZZA PIZZA slice of all slices, you don't deserve to eat pizza bc that ish is garbage]

    but i understand the sentiment from fans that are happy to get something after these last few years…(last 15 years?)

  26. Why does the TO media always slam the fans for this? Every year the basketball snobs have to make a point about how embarrassing this is , but yet every game thousands of people obviously disagree. If SVG were to slam the crowd’s wild reaction to “The Raptor” smashing his private parts, yet again, would you also be embarrassed?

    So why is the media so strongly on the wrong side of the fence on this? Perhaps because they don’t actually pay money for tickets. Maybe they’re too high brow to cheer for free stuff. Do you tell your kid to sit down when there are shooting crappy T-shirts with a TD Bank logo into the stands?

    Why don’t you make it easier for us and do a post about who/what/when we are allowed to cheer. Otherwise, STFU.

    • I understand the fans are going to cheer for free stuff, and I don’t blame them for that. But why not make it so that the fans only get free pizza when the Raptors win? If you want to argue that fans should leave with something even if the Raptors lose, then let’s give out free stuff for every game the Raptors lose and abandon every last shred of dignity.

      • You can hold on to your last shred of dignity! the team is terrible, I enjoy pizza. Why compound a losing effort with a cancelled promotion just so you can “hold your head up high” after the Raptors get crushed by 10+ every game. The promotion doesn’t hide the fact that the team is bad. If your embarressed pick a team that wins more!

  27. Hey Scott Stinkyfoot,this damn pizza thing is just something to cheer for a lousy and poor team like the raptors.Anyone can buy a box of pizza if they like to, its just the fun and excitement after watching a bad team.

  28. Sorry for having fun at a Raptors game, grandpa

  29. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJVF7fWZRMg

    I think of that scene in Semi-Pro everytime. CORNDOGS JACKIE! CORNDOGS!

  30. I really dont see the complaint here , the Raptors have given pizza for free 4 times this year . Everyone who is complaining about the pizza thing , what do you expect ?

    There is little respect for the Raptors all over the league from Barkley to Van Gundy’s comments , the fact the raptors still have large crowds shows how devoted fans are.

    We should get free pizza just for showing up

  31. Tacky.

    Anyone defending their right to cheer for a square piece of garbage pizza is tacky too.

    Welcome to Toronto. SMDH.

  32. Didn’t read all the comments, but they do announce that if you have a printed ticket you need to get it stamped at the Customer Service area. I got screwed with it once and actually heard it at the Magic game.

  33. “The fans need something to cheer for” makes it sounds like nobody realized they’d be spending the evening at a Raptors game.

    From the part of the country I live in, people will drive 8 hours to go to an NBA game in the US. We go to watch basketball. Nobody guarantees you “a good game.” The pizza promotion is juvenile, tacky, and bush league.

    If you’re more into free stuff, being “relaxed,” and eating pizza, maybe you should be spending the evening at Chuck-E-Cheese.

  34. 8 hours? must not be in new jersey or indiana. maybe they should get the pizza promotion

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