Raptors to call Tampa home to open NBA season


The Toronto Raptors will begin the 2020-21 NBA season in Tampa, Florida, the team said in a statement Friday.

The Raptors were unable to reach an agreement with the Canadian government on a plan to play its home games at Scotiabank Arena.

“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,” Raptors president Masai 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 Canadians, combined with the urgent need to determine where we will play means that we will begin our 2020-21 season in Tampa, Florida.”

Ujiri said the Raptors will continue to work with the Canadian government on a plan “for a safe return” to play in Toronto.

“So we’ll be away from our home and our fans for now,” Ujiri said in the statement. “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.”

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