Here’s an interesting challenge for the NBA: if Canada continues to seal its border with the United States, where could the Toronto Raptors begin the 2020-2021 season if prohibited from playing at Scotiabank Arena? Cities are lining up.
With the beginning of the 2020-2021 NBA season still up in the air–it might start as early as Christmas Day and as late as Martin Luther King Day–the closed border between Canada and the United States has some real ramifications for the NBA on the scheduling front. Several U.S. cities have expressed interest in hosting the Raptors. There are several factors at play here: for TV scheduling, staying in the same time zone could be a consideration, as well as how many fans are allowed in the facility. Given that attendance guidelines are all local, you can imagine a state and municipality allowing 25 percent attendance would be more attractive than a local economy that’s still shut down.
A sentimental choice would be Buffalo, where the last NBA game in the form of the Buffalo Braves was played some 42 years ago. The Toronto Blue Jays played their 2020 season in Buffalo and received plenty of great press in the process. Kansas City officials are pitching the NBA to host the Raptors at T-Mobile Center, while Louisville officials have pitched the KFC Yum! Center as well.
This is all what-if territory: the Raptors are working with the federal government on a play to host games in Toronto, and that process will apparently play out:
The Raptors remain hopeful they’ll be able to host games in Toronto next season, I’m told. Several contingency options have been discussed internally, in case thats not possible, but nothing’s imminent. Much is still unknown. Louisville was never on the table for the organization— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) October 23, 2020
By the way, the NHL is looking at a different approach for its 2020-2021 season: instead of home play, hub cities will be used again, at least at the beginning of the season. Buffalo may end up being a hub city for the NHL, which could pretty much kill the chances of KeyBank Center being used by the Raptors.