The Toronto Raptors will begin the 2020-’21 NBA season playing in Tampa, Florida, following Canada’s decision to deny the team the ability to play at Scotiabank Arena due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Toronto Raptors news: Team to play in Tampa to start 2020-’21 NBA season
Masai Ujiri, the Raptors president of basketball operations, announced the decision on Friday. When NBA training camp begins in a few weeks, the Raptors will be preparing in Florida and will host games in Tampa.
Under Canada’s coronavirus regulations, the Raptors would be allowed to travel out of the country for games in the United States. However, they would be required to quarantine for 14 days each time they returned to Toronto. On top of that, any opponent would be subjected to a 14-day quarantine.
With the 2020-’21 NBA season set to begin on Dec. 22, there wasn’t enough time for the Toronto Raptors to try and weigh numerous temporary homes to play in. Kansas City offered to be the hosting site, but playing in Florida was expected. Ultimately, the organization acted quickly and chose Tampa, Florida.
The Raptors will play in Amalie Arena, which is located downtown and is home of the Tampa Bay Lightning. It holds a seating capacity of 20,500, but it’s unlikely that many fans will be allowed in attendance due to the pandemic.
Canada has seen a significant spike in coronavirus cases since September, jumping from averaging under 1,000 new cases per day to 5,000-plus in recent weeks. The bigger concern for the country is the United States, which is averaging over 100,000 new cases daily since November.
The Toronto Raptors have called Canada their home since the team was founded in 1995 and the team is beloved by the entire country. Unfortunately, basketball fans in Canada will have to watch from afar to start this season. Unless a vaccine becomes readily available, we might not see the Raptors return to Toronto until the 2021-’22 season.