Raptors denied request to play home games in Toronto, will begin season in Tampa

The Toronto Raptors will begin the next season playing in Tampa, Fla, after their request to play home games in Toronto was denied by the federal government.

A federal source with direct knowledge confirmed to CBC News’ David Cochrane the Raptors could return to Toronto later in the season if pandemic conditions improve.

In a statement, team president Masai Ujiri thanked government officials for their efforts and said the team would begin the 2020-21 season using Tampa as their home base. The season is scheduled to begin Dec. 22.

“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..” Ujiri said in the 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. We want to thank all levels of government and their public health officials for their dedication to this process, and for looking after the health of Canadians.

We commit to continuing our work together, planning for a safe return to play in Toronto. And as an organization, we remain committed to doing all we can to promote and demonstrate public health measures to help combat the spread of COVID-19 in Canada. So we’ll be away from our home and our fans for now. 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.”

Read more at CBC.ca