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Toronto Raptors to begin 2020-21 season playing in Tampa

With the Covid-19 travel restrictions to and from Canada, the Raptors will find a new home in Florida to start the upcoming NBA season.

President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri congratulates Nick Nurse of the Toronto Raptors as he wins the 2019-20 NBA Coach of the Year Award on August 22, 2020 at the hotel in Orlando, Florida. Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

UPDATE 2:00 p.m.: The Raptors will likely use the JW Marriott as their practice facility during their stay in Tampa. It’s also the host hotel for Super Bowl LV.

The Toronto Raptors will spend at least one season in the sunshine, as Tampa’s Amalie Arena will host the 2020-21 season for the NBA’s only Canadian franchise.

Due to restrictions on “non-essential” travel by the Canadian government, moving back and forth across the border would require a 14-day quarantine for both citizens and non-citizens upon arrival. This will let the Raptors play as many as 36 of their 72-game schedule in Tampa Bay.

Amalie Arena has hosted many NCAA Basketball Tournament regionals, and was just awarded the Women’s Final Four for the fourth time last month. The Raptors were in town last week looking for a practice facility, the location of which still hasn’t been announced by the team or the city.

This will preclude the NHL from using Tampa as a “hub city” for the upcoming regular season, as local officials have stated hosting both the NBA and NHL in the same building would be unsustainable during a pandemic. Tampa is also hosting Super Bowl LV the first Sunday in February.