It is official. The Toronto Raptors will play in Tampa, Florida. This news comes after several levels of the Canadian government were not able to make an agreement because of COVID-19 concerns. The issue is the travel between the United States of America and Canada.
Tampa, Florida Will Be the New Home of the Toronto Raptors
According to Shams Charania, a senior lead NBA insider/writer/and analyst for The Athletic and Stadium, Toronto will start their 2020-21 NBA season in Tampa.
The Toronto Raptors will begin the 2020-21 NBA season playing in Tampa, Florida.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 20, 2020
A big reason for this is the rising number of cases in Canada, specifically Ontario, where Toronto resides. According to CBC News, Ontario reported 1,418 COVID-19 cases on Friday. This includes 393 in Toronto. Furthermore, there are also hotspots in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) with the Peel Region reporting 400 cases and the York Region reporting 168 cases. As a result of this, both Toronto and the Peel Region are entering lockdown on Monday according to CP24.
Other reasons include the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the US, the mandatory 14-day quarantine rule entering Canada, and the Canadian government’s restrictions around cross-border travel according to The Canadian Press. These reasons played a big role in the Toronto Raptors not playing at Scotiabank Arena. The Raptors will play at Amalie Arena, which his home to the Tampa Bay Lightning according to Jabari Young of CNBC.
The Positives and Negatives of Playing in Tampa
The cons obviously outweigh the pros for the Toronto Raptors. Some Raptor players will be away from their young families, who have settled their life in Toronto. They will also be playing at a neutral site. This means they will play in a city that may not support the Raptors even if fans are allowed.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 16, 2020
The good news is that this method has worked for other Canadian sports teams. More specifically, the Toronto Blue Jays were able the complete their 2020 MLB season in Buffalo. Lastly, Toronto FC has played in Hartford and recently completed their 2020 MLS season on November 8th. They will start their MLS Cup Playoffs on November 24th.
The other positive is that the Raptors will most likely change divisions. This is according to Keith Smith.
One idea that has been floated if the Toronto Raptors play in Tampa, Florida for the 2020-21 season is to have the Washington Wizards temporarily join the Atlantic Division with BOS, BKN, NYK & PHI. Toronto (Tampa) would then join ATL, CHA, MIA & ORL in the Southeast Division.
— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) November 12, 2020
This would make sense as the Southeast Division has teams in the same state as Tampa. Also, it would give the Raptors a better chance to win the division. The Atlantic Division is one of the toughest divisions in the NBA. The Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, and the Boston Celtics are all teams with NBA championship ambitions. While the same can be said about the Miami Heat, in the Southeast Division, there is no other team in that division of that caliber.
Lastly, there might still be a chance the Raptors could play in Toronto, according to Rachel Gilmore of Global News. In that article Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister said that the spring will mean the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is far from a guarantee and the Raptors may play their entire 2020-21 NBA season and likely playoffs in Tampa, Florida.
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