TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay area is on the shortlist of potential temporary homes for Canada's only NBA team.
Canada's coronavirus restrictions state that even people without symptoms have to quarantine for 14 days when entering the country. That poses a challenge for a traveling professional basketball team whose opponents are located in the United States.
An executive with the Toronto Raptors told SportsNet: “If we can get it done in Toronto, we’d do it tomorrow." But, there's not yet any indication the Canadian government will make an exception to the pandemic travel rules.
With the NBA season scheduled to begin Dec. 22 and training camps opening on Dec. 1, the franchise is scrambling to find other options like having a temporary home court in the U.S. And, SportsNet reports Tampa has emerged as the "most likely" place.
Rob Higgins, executive director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission and co-host of our Tampa Bay 55 podcast, indicated our region would welcome the Raptors.
“Ideally, the Raptors are able to play their upcoming season in Toronto, but should that not be possible, we would have a strong interest in working to successfully meet and exceed their expectations as an alternative host," Higgins told 10 Tampa Bay.
Higgins said his team has already been in preliminary discussions with the organization and stands ready to assist if needed.
The Raptors are part of the NBA's Eastern Conference Atlanta Division. Back in Toronto, their past home games have been at Scotiabank Arena, a venue they share with the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs.
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