tampa raptors

Toronto Raptors to play home games in Tampa Bay and fans already have thoughts

Don't call them the Tampa Bay Raptors: The 2019 NBA world champions are still Toronto's team... they just happen to be indefinitely relegated to Florida.

Much to the disappointment of local NBA fans who were stoked earlier this week to learn that the Raps might actually start the 2020-2021 season in Toronto, Canada's federal government has denied a proposal from the team that would have allowed them to play at home.

"The Raptors worked diligently with public health officials at the local, provincial and federal level to secure a plan that would permit us to play our 2020-21 season on home soil and on our home court at Scotiabank Arena," said Raptors President Masai in a statement issued Friday afternoon.

"These conversations were productive, and we found strong support for the protocols we put forward," Ujiri continued.

"Ultimately, the current public health situation facing Canadians, combined with the urgent need to determine where we will play means that we will begin our 2020-21 season in Tampa, Florida."

The Raptors have only committed, so far, to starting the season in Tampa Bay, according to Sports Illustrated, but fans are already mourning the loss of their team to another city.

Of course, this arrangement is temporary — Toronto won't lose the Raptors. What we don't know is when we'll get them back.

While many fans are taking the news well, some are furious with the Canadian government for denying the team's request.

"Absolute tragedy from the incompetent federal government. Totally political decision not based on public health at all," wrote one on Twitter in response to the news.

"Having 20 guys play basketball in an empty arena is no significant risk to the public. This is a joke and simply to appease the hypochondriac crowd."

Others are pointing out the positives, like the fact that our players won't have to freeze through another Toronto winter.

Ujiri and the team have been nothing but congenial, as per usual, in response to the proposal's denial.

"We want to thank all levels of government and their public health officials for their dedication to this process, and for looking after the health of Canadians," said Ujiri after weeks of negotiation.

"We commit to continuing our work together, planning for a safe return to play in Toronto. And as an organization, we remain committed to doing all we can to promote and demonstrate public health measures to help combat the spread of COVID-19 in Canada."

"So we'll be away from our home and our fans for now. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder," said Ujiri on Friday. 

"I'm not sure that's possible for us – we love Toronto and Canada, and we know we have the best fans in the NBA. For now, I'll ask you to cheer for us from afar, and we'll look forward to the day we are all together again."

Lead photo by

Toronto Raptors

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