However due to COVID-19, it’s going to be a long-distance love affair for now.

The Raptors will start their season playing house video games in Tampa, Fla., next month after being unable to come to a contract with the federal government to dip into Scotiabank Arena throughout the global pandemic.

Ujiri said the present public health scenario facing Canadians, integrated with the group’s urgent need to find a place to play, led to the decision to announce Tampa as a short-term home.

” So we’ll be far from our home and our fans for now,” the Raptors president stated in a declaration. “They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. I’m not exactly sure that’s possible for us – we love Toronto and Canada, and we understand we have the finest fans in the NBA. For now, I’ll ask you to cheer for us from afar, and we’ll eagerly anticipate the day we are entirely once again.”

A statement from Health Minister Patty Hajdu’s workplace said the decision was made based upon guidance from the Public Health Firm of Canada. The workplace states it will continue its dialogue with the Raptors.

” The resumption of sports occasions in Canada must be carried out in adherence to Canada’s plan to mitigate the importation and spread of COVID-19,” the statement stated. “Like other countries, Canada is dealing with strategies for a determined resumption of sports, consisting of, both professional and amateur sporting occasions.”

The Raptors had hoped to start the 2020-21 campaign in the house despite increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases in the house and in the United States. But the choice was written in the spikes in cases, the Canadian federal government’s limitations around cross-border travel and the mandatory 14-day quarantine for individuals getting in Canada.

It showed excessive for the country’s only NBA team. And “We the South” was trending on Twitter on Friday quickly after the news broke.

The Raptors will play out of 20,500-seat Amalie Arena, house to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

” I make certain I promote everybody in the city of Toronto, we’ll support the Raptors anywhere they’re playing due to the fact that they’re our Raptors,” Toronto Mayor John Tory said Friday. “And Tampa Bay should not get any concepts in that regard, they’re our Raptors and they will be our group.”

Basic manager Bobby Webster stated earlier today that, with time ticking down to the Dec. 1 start to training camp, there were many collective work hours spent on this decision daily, with various starts and stops with each location. The team had actually taken a look at a number of options, with Nashville and Buffalo believed to be amongst the possible destinations.

Webster said the important factors in picking a momentary home were the practice center, medical facilities, and an arena that fit NBA standards – particularly with broadcast requirements – and had available dates.

” And after that, lifestyle matters,” Webster said earlier this week. “I believe at some point we’re asking individuals here to uproot their lives and go to a place that they may possibly be far from their households for six to seven months. So, we wish to be considerate of that, and we want people to seem like we’re going someplace where we feel safe and they seem like they can settle in.”

Florida has been a COVID-19 hotspot. It had 9,085 new cases on Thursday and is third-highest in total cases amongst states.

If COVID-19 shows indications of easing off, and with a natural break in the season coming during the all-star break in early March, Webster suggested there may be “an opportunity to transition back” to Toronto.”

The schedule for the season, which pointers off Dec. 22, is being launched in 2 parts.

” We’re going to work hard with public health and with the Raptors and everybody else to ensure that in the spring or late winter we might be able to get them back here,” Tory said.

” Therefore, if individuals can simply get on board, and get this virus wrestled to the ground, it’ll be no problem getting them back, and we desire them back and they will be back, and they’re going to win.”

The 2019 NBA champions have not played a house game given that a 99-96 loss to Charlotte on Feb. 28. A couple of days after returning from a five-game western road trip, the league shut down due to COVID-19.

They recognize with Florida. Right before the season resumed, they held a camp in Fort Myers – a sort of pre-bubble bubble. The season restarted July 30 under rigorous health protocols at a sealed-off complex at Walt Disney World near Orlando, Fla., and was considered a success, with no positive coronavirus tests.

The Raptors join the Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto FC, the Montreal Impact and the Vancouver Whitecaps, who played the majority of their respective seasons south of the border.

Like the Raptors, heaven Jays interested the provincial and federal governments to dip into house however were rejected. They transferred briefly to Buffalo.

The 2019-20 NHL season likewise stopped briefly in March before continuing in the center cities of Toronto and Edmonton.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 20, 2020.