The Raptors have talked to the operators of the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, about using the facility for their home games next season, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. The building holds 19,500 fans and is located relatively close to Toronto’s four Atlantic Division rivals.
In response to the coronavirus, Canada has placed restrictions on international travel from the United States that are likely to still be in place whenever next season begins. With other teams unable to freely travel into Toronto, the Raptors are searching for a U.S. site to serve as their temporary home. Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays played their home games this summer at Sahlen Field in Buffalo.
The Prudential Center, which serves as home to the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and Seton Hall basketball, has experience in hosting an NBA team, Bondy notes. The Nets played there for two seasons before relocating to Brooklyn in 2012. The building is owned by Harris Blitzer Sports Entertainment, which also owns the Sixers.
A source tells Bondy that the Raptors also had discussions about playing in Tampa Bay or Nashville or possibly being guests in another NBA team’s arena. Kansas City offered the T-Mobile Center, while a similar pitch from Louisville was declined. A move to Buffalo has also been suggested.
The NBA is trying to limit travel next season because of COVID-19 concerns, which could make Newark an ideal location. Bondy points out that it’s only about 15 miles from Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden and roughly 90 minutes from Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Boston is 225 miles away.