Nov 5, 2020 - Health

NBA's Toronto Raptors weigh temporary stay in U.S.

Image of a basketball hoop

Photo: Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The NBA's Toronto Raptors would love to play next season at home, but with travel between the U.S. and Canada currently restricted — including a 14-day quarantine — they're weighing a temporary U.S. residence.

The state of play: The NBA season is expected to start on Dec. 22, and a surge in positive cases in the U.S. means travel restrictions could remain for a while.

  • The MLB's Blue Jays dealt with the same problem, ultimately playing home games at Buffalo's Sahlen Field, a minor league ballpark.

Multiple options are being discussed, with two candidates emerging as early frontrunners:

  • Prudential Center (Newark, N.J.): This one makes a lot of sense given its proximity to the Raptors' divisional foes (Celtics, Sixers, Knicks, Nets). Limiting travel cuts costs, and I don't need to tell you how important that is this year.
  • T-Mobile Center (Kansas City, Mo.): K.C.'s mayor has been aggressively lobbying to host the Raptors, hoping to rekindle the city's relationship with professional basketball (the Kings played there in the '70s and '80s). Even Patrick Mahomes is lending his voice to the effort.

Elsewhere: This is a big country with hundreds of NBA-ready arenas. Where else could the Raptors land? A few particularly good options:

  • KeyBank Center (Buffalo, N.Y.): A stone's throw from the Raptors' actual home, they could follow the Blue Jays' lead and just head to Toronto south.
  • Amalie Arena (Tampa, Fla.): The 2019 NBA champion playing alongside the 2020 Stanley Cup champion? Love it.
  • Barclays Center (Brooklyn, N.Y.): If the Lakers and Clippers can share Staples Center, the Nets and Raptors can do the same.

The bottom line: The decision will likely come down to money, which includes travel costs and local TV markets. Seven weeks left — the clock's ticking.

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