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Toronto Raptors begin practice Tuesday in Tampa Bay

It's home away from home because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
Toronto Raptors' Kyle Lowry dribbles up the court against the Boston Celtics during the first half of an NBA conference semifinal playoff basketball game Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

ST LEO, Fla. — The Toronto Raptors will be based in Tampa Bay for some time as coronavirus restrictions prevent the team from playing at home.

Canada's only NBA team begins practice Tuesday, Dec. 1, at Saint Leo University, with plans to use its facilities for pre-season training camp through Dec. 11 ahead of the NBA regular season.

Canada's coronavirus restrictions state that even people without symptoms have to quarantine for 14 days when entering the country, which poses a problem for a team whose opponents are based in the U.S. In the meantime, the university's Marion Bowman Activities Center is home.

"We are excited to host the Toronto Raptors as they prepare for the start of their 2020-21 season,” said Saint Leo University Athletic Director Francis X. Reidy in a news release. "We are thrilled the Bowman Center can be 'We the South' for a few weeks while the Raptors prepare to play in Tampa this season. 

"We have an outstanding basketball facility that will allow the team to accomplish their preseason goals in a safe, secure environment."

While practices are at Saint Leo Unversity, the Raptors will play their "home" games at Amalie Arena in Tampa instead of their home court at Scotiabank Arena. The NBA season is scheduled to begin Dec. 22.

The university says there has been a "relatively low number" of positive COVID-19 cases, with the community following protocols like mask-wearing and social distancing. The campus is regularly cleaned each day to ensure common areas are sanitized, it added.

"The Raptors can expect to be welcomed to a clean, safe, and secure facility where they can prepare for the season without any distractions," said Saint Leo University President Jeffrey Senese in the release. "We are happy to host them at their temporary home at Saint Leo University which will allow their season to have a successful start."

No visitors will be allowed at the Marion Bowman Activities Center while the Toronto Raptors practice, the university said.

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