Like the MLB Toronto Blue Jays, the NBA Toronto Raptors have been told that due to issues with the border being closed to non-essential traffic, they will not be allowed to play their home games…at home.
After checking out a number of sites, the Raptors will become snow birds as they will make their home away from home in Tampa, Florida at Amalie Arena – home of the Stanley Cup winning Tampa Bay Lightning.
NBA training camp begins in less than two weeks with the 2020/21 season beginning on December 22.
Raptors President Masai Ujiri spoke on the decision saying, “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.”
Like the Baseball playing Blue Jays, the Raptors are the only professional Basketball team in Canada and must make frequent use of their passports during the playing season in order to play games in the United States.
The U.S. is currently experiencing a spike in positive Covid-19 cases, causing more shut downs and mandates; the increase also extends the closure of the four thousand mile plus border.
Professor of infectious diseases at the University of Toronto and the medical director of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at Sinai-University Health Network Dr. Andrew Morris spoke on the Canadian government’s decision saying, “with the current situation it is almost impossible for the government to reasonably sanction travel back and forth travel outside a bubble.”
The shortened 2020 NBA season was played at Disney World under a “bubble” where all of the teams were quarantined and played games at a single location with no fans in the stands.
The NBA will release the first half of the season schedule on December 1 with the remaining of the schedule being released early next year. Depending on the health situation at that time, the Raptors may be able to return home to Toronto for their home games.
feature photo credit: By Benson Kua from Toronto, Canada – Toronto RaptorsUploaded by tm, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25887830