Toronto Raptors to begin upcoming season playing out of Tampa Bay | Offside

Ross Houston
November 21, 2020

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

The Toronto Blue Jays were also unable to play home games in Canada in 2020, and wound up spending the shortened Major League Baseball season playing out of Buffalo, New York.

The Toronto Raptors announced Friday that they will begin the 2020-21 National Basketball Association season playing out of Tampa, Florida, and not Toronto.

Instead, they will play home games at Amalie Arena, home of the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

Ujiri says the conversations were "productive" but that the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with the team's "urgent need" to determine where to play, resulted in the team beginning play out of Tampa, Florida. Between Nov. 5 and Nov. 18, the province has totaled 18,821 cases, according to health officials.

Last week, Canada's Deputy Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Howard Njoo, said he was in talks with the team about the new season, saying "what I would say is that the Raptors have presented very good protocols. This is not a next week type thing".

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. The number of cases in both nations, but particularly in the USA, has surged since. Ujiri said in the statement.

The Canadian government required a comprehensive public health plan and written support from local health officials.

We commit to continuing our work together, planning for a safe return to play in Toronto.

Raptors president Masai Ujiri released a statement saying the Raptors will play home games in Tampa, Florida. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Unfortunately for the Toronto Raptors, this is simply not possible as the Canada-US border remains closed. "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". "The logistics, the optics, make no sense".

Scotiabank Arena is the usual home of the NBA's lone Canadian team, but the U.S. This season will require teams to travel in the U.S.

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