The Toronto Raptors will start the NBA season playing at Amalie Arena in Tampa after the team was unable to receive permission from the Canadian government to play in Toronto.
On Friday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau extended the U.S. border closure through at least Dec. 21 due to rising COVID-19 cases, a day before the NBA season is slated to start.
Canadian-American teams: Rumors had been circulating of the Raptors playing in various cities across the U.S. before Friday’s news dropped.
It wasn’t a surprise as the Toronto Blue Jays were forced to play in Buffalo, N.Y., for the 2020 MLB season. Toronto FC is playing its MLS games at UConn’s football stadium and the NHL is considering an all-Canada division for its seven teams next season.
A market test?
There’s recent precedent for a market to receive an NBA team after a stint as a temporary home for an existing franchise. Oklahoma City hosted the then-New Orleans Hornets for two years in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
After the Hornets returned to New Orleans, the Seattle SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder in 2008.