TAMPA, Fla. — The Toronto Raptors will play all their home games in Tampa, Fla., this season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NBA team said Thursday the team will complete its home schedule at Amalie Arena after initially announcing in November it would play half its home games in Tampa before making a decision on the second half of the season.
The Raptors say the decision was made because of border restrictions and public safety measures in Canada.
The lone NBA team from outside the U.S., the Raptors have joined several Canadian counterparts in having to play south of the border during the pandemic.
Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays (Buffalo, N.Y.) and Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC (East Hartford, Conn.), CF Montreal (Harrison, N.J.) and Vancouver Whitecaps (Portland) relocated for partial or full seasons in 2020. Major League Rugby’s Toronto Arrows will start their 2021 season in Marietta, Ga.
A schedule release for the second half of the season is expected in the coming days.
“Florida has been really welcoming to us and we’re so grateful for the hospitality we’ve found in Tampa and at Amalie _ we’re living in a city of champions, and we intend to carry on the tradition of winning for our new friends and fans here,” Raptors president Masai Ujiri said in a statement.
“But home is where the heart is, and our hearts are in Toronto. We think often of our fans, of our Scotiabank Arena family, and all those we are missing back home, and we can’t wait until we can all be together again.”
The NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning and NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers won their respective 2020 season championships, while MLB’s Tampa Bay Rays advanced to the World Series.