The Raptors won't be playing inside Scotia Bank arena anytime soon as the team released a statement Thursday morning announcing plans to finish out the remainder of the 2020-21 season in Tampa Bay. The Raptors cited the "ongoing border restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and mindful of public safety measures in Canada" as the reason for the decision, as the Canadian government has blocked them from playing any games within the country during the pandemic.
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In the statement, Raptors president Masai Ujiri said the team is happy to be welcomed in Florida, but that 'our hearts are in Toronto:'
"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. 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."
It was announced in November that the Raptors would start the 2020-21 season in Tampa Bay at the Amalie Arena, where the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning play, but there was hope that the team would be able to return to Canada at some point to finish out the season. However, the Canadian government has not eased any border restrictions that would allow people to travel into the country due to the pandemic, and that includes even for sporting events.
Even in the NHL, which has seven teams located in Canada, teams have not been allowed to play games that require crossing the border. Instead, the NHL re-aligned its divisions to allow all seven Canadian teams to play each other only throughout the condensed 56-game schedule. But for the NBA, which has only one team north of the border, that isn't a possibility.