Tampa, Florida will be home to the Toronto Raptors for the entire 2020-21 NBA season. On Thursday the team announced they will play their home games at Amalie Arena in Tampa due to COVID-19 restrictions and public safety measures in Tampa. They have played in Tampa since the start of the season in December.
"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," Raptors President Masai Ujiri said in a statement. "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."
In November, the Raptors announced Amalie Arena would be their home court for the first half of the season. The schedule for the second half of the season is expected to be released in the coming days since the first half ends in March.
"They say absence makes the heart grow fonder," Ujiri stated in November. "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."
The Raptors started the season 2-8 but have gone 10-5 since. At their new home court, Toronto has posted a 6-5 record and will have another home game on Thursday when they face the Boston Celtics. The Raptors are currently in fifth place in the Eastern Conference and looking to get back to championship form, winning the title in 2019. The good news for the Raptors is the lawsuit against Ujiri was dropped. A law enforcement officer in California sued Ujiri over a scuffle following the Raptors win over the Golden State Warriors in the 2019 NBA Finals.
"I'm certainly happy for him that it's over," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said, as reported by ESPN. "It's a long process that he had to go through but he did it properly and went through it without ever wavering. I'm sure he's glad it's over with, as we all are."