Raptors Consider Playing in Tampa Bay if Canada Keeps Travel Restrictions

Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry in 2016. Photo by Canadian Press/REX/Shutterstock

Toronto Raptors are considering calling Tampa Bay their home for 2020/21 NBA season if Canada keeps travel restrictions due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

According to Tampa Bay Times‘ Eduardo A. Encina, Raptors already engaged in preliminary discussions with the city officials.

If they choose Tampa Bay, Raptors would be the first NBA or WNBA basketball team in the city. They would be playing in Amalie Arena, currently the home of reigning Stanley Cup champions Tampa Bay Lightning.

“Ideally, the Raptors are able to play their upcoming season in Toronto, but should that not be possible, we would have a strong interest in working to successfully meet and exceed their expectations as an alternative host,” said Tampa Bay Sports Commission’s executive director Rob Higgins about the possibility. “We’ve enjoyed our preliminary conversations with their organization and stand ready to assist if needed.”

It is important to note that the Raptors haven’t made up their mind yet and that they are considering several other options as well. Also, the team is hoping that the Canadian government might loosen its restrictions soon, enabling them to remain in Toronto. At the moment, Canada requires all “non-essential” visitors to quarantine for two weeks upon entering the country.

The new NBA season is scheduled to tip-off on December 22nd, while the teams are expected to enter training camp on December 1st.