TAMPA, Fla. — The Raptors aren't going back to Toronto this season.
Ongoing challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic and how that affects the process of crossing the border between the U.S. and Canada will keep the Raptors in their adopted home of Tampa for the remainder of the regular season, the team said Thursday.
The Raptors are 6-5 in Amalie Arena, which they're sharing with the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
"Florida has been really welcoming to us and we're so grateful for the hospitality we've found in Tampa and at Amalie," Raptors President Masai Ujiri said in a statement. "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."
Indeed, the Raptors seem to be capitalizing on the recent successes of the Tampa Bay area's sports teams.
Tampa also has the reigning Super Bowl champion Buccaneers, and the Tampa Bay Rays played in the World Series last season.
"We the North" is plastered throughout the Tampa hotel that the team is using as a practice facility. But don't expect a slogan change despite the geographically misleading messaging.
Ujiri squashed any notion of Tampa becoming the team's permanent home.
"But home is where the heart is, and our hearts are in Toronto," he said. "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."