Toronto Raptors to play home games in Tampa to open National Basketball Association season

Toronto Raptors

Today, Raptors team president Masai Ujiri announced that they would actually be playing in Tampa Bay, Florida.

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"So we'll be away from our home and our fans for now", Ujiri said in the statement.

The team normally plays its home games at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario.

The Toronto Star first reported earlier Friday that the Canadian federal government had denied the Raptors' requests to play their home games in Toronto, a setup that would have required frequent border crossings for the team and its opponents, all has case numbers from the COVID-19 pandemic continue to rise on both sides of the border.

An official familiar with the federal government's decision told The Associated Press there is too much COVID-19 circulating in the United States to allow for cross-border travel that is not essential.

There has been speculation around the National Basketball Association according to NBC Sports that the Raptors may switch places with the Washington Wizards in the Southeast Division to help limit travel.

Scotiabank Arena in Toronto will not be the Raptors' home stadium to open the 2020-21 season.

The NBA season is scheduled to begin on December 22, with training camps starting around December 1.

The Raptors will remain in the NBA's Atlantic Division. The team had worked out several arrangements with the NHL's Panthers, including even sharing the club's practice facility. If they change course, that would represent a natural pivot point to move back home, assuming case numbers, vaccines and other factors have trended in the right direction.

The Toronto Blue Jays know what it feels like to be displaced.

The Blue Jays failed to persuade the federal government to grant exemptions and played home games in Buffalo, New York, this year. The number of cases in both countries, but particularly in the US has surged since.

He thanked government officials for helping ensure the safety of Canadians during the health crisis.



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