That’s right, you did not read that wrong. The Raptors have announced due to the Canadian government not allowing the team to play home games, they will play their home games in the city of Tampa Bay. Due to travel restrictions that the Canadian government has in place, they will be forced to move south of the Border. When the players were consulted they requested Tampa. The organization took that to heart and started negotiations with the city.
The Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri released the following statement:
“The Raptors worked diligently with public health officials at the local, provincial and federal level to secure a plan that would permit us to play our 2020-21 season on home soil and on our home court at Scotiabank Arena. These conversations were productive, and we found strong support for the protocols we put forward. Ultimately, the current public health situation facing Canadians, combined with the urgent need to determine where we will play means that we will begin our 2020-21 season in Tampa, Florida.
“We want to thank all levels of government and their public health officials for their dedication to this process, and for looking after the health of Canadians. We commit to continuing our work together, planning for a safe return to play in Toronto. And as an organization, we remain committed to doing all we can to promote and demonstrate public health measures to help combat the spread of COVID-19 in Canada.
“So we’ll be away from our home and our fans for now. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. I’m not sure that’s possible for us — we love Toronto and Canada, and we know we have the best fans in the NBA. For now, I’ll ask you to cheer for us from afar, and we’ll look forward to the day we are all together again.”
Well, that about says it all. They did have other sites on the table if this one did not work. Kansas City and Nashville were both mentioned as possible locations as well. One of the big questions left is what arena would they use? The best possibility would be at the Amalie Arena, which is home to NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning. But then the scheduling could be too much as the Lightning are due to start their season as well.
As of today, it has been announced that they will play in the stadium with the lighting. In this crazy year of 2020, it takes everyone to make a season go on. The City of Tampa and the Lightning have shown to be gracious in their accommodations. As for the team, they will stay in the NBA’s Atlantic Division. For teams like Orlando, the trip is one they can drive before the game and for others a bit closer as well.