Raptors to play home games in Tampa Bay


TORONTO, ON – JANUARY 26: The team logo decal at center court on Welcome Toronto night during the Toronto Raptors NBA game against the Utah Jazz at Air Canada Centre on January 26, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

The Toronto Raptors will play their home games in Tampa Bay, Florida to start the 2020-21 season after the Canadian government made the decision to not allow them to play in Toronto due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Raptors president Masai Ujiri made the announcement on Friday.

“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,” Ujiri said. “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.”

The season starts on Dec. 22.

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