The Raptors will spend the rest of the 2020/21 season playing their home games at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida, the team announced today in a press release.
The franchise, which was unable to play in Toronto to start this season due to the coronavirus-related restrictions in place on the U.S./Canadian border, had left the door open to the possibility of returning to its own building – Scotiabank Arena – later in the season.
The hope was that the COVID-19 situation would have improved enough on both sides of the border to loosen those health and safety restrictions by the second half. However, it appears that won’t happen.
“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 of basketball operations 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 Raptors have enjoyed only a slight “home-court” advantage in Tampa so far in 2020/21, going 6-5 in home games and 6-8 on the road.
The team hosted fans at Amalie Arena at a reduced capacity earlier in the season but later reversed course and closed its doors. The stated reason was the rise of COVID-19 cases in the area, but the fact that many of the fans in attendance were cheering for Raptors’ visiting opponents may have played a part as well.