Raptors announce they will start 2020-21 season playing in Tampa Bay

Mike DePrisco
·2 min read

Raptors announce they will start next season in Tampa originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The Raptors weren't going to be able to start the 2020-21 season in their home city of Toronto due to government restrictions on border travel amid the coronavirus pandemic. It appears they've found a temporary home to compete in the new season. 

Toronto general manager Masai Ujiri announced the team will begin next season in Tampa, FL. 

"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 in a statement. "These conversations were productive, and we found strong support for the protocols we put forward. Ultimately, the current public health situation facing Canadiens, combined with the urgent need to determine where we will play means that we will begin our 2020-21 season in Tampa, Florida."

The Raptors had to alter their travel plans before the 2019-20 season restart in the Orlando bubble, traveling down to Florida several weeks before the rest of the league did due to quarantine procedures required for individuals entering the United States from another country. 

The NBA's regular-season schedule has not yet been released, though it figures to reduce travel and possibly introduce baseball-like series. By playing in Tampa, the Raptors remain relatively close to their Atlantic division rivals on the northeastern coast and much closer to teams like the Magic, Heat and Hornets.

"So we'll be away from our home and our fans for now," Ujiri said. "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 ware all together again."