Toronto Raptors to allow 3,800 fans


Toronto Raptors will play at Tampas Amalie Arena Image: Amalie Arena

The Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association (NBA) has announced plans to permit up to 3,800 supporters for the initial regular season games at its temporary residence – Tampa’s (US) Amalie Arena.

The Toronto Raptors are a Canadian professional basketball team based in Toronto, Canada. The Raptors compete in the NBA as a member of the league’s Eastern Conference Atlantic Division. The Raptors’ home ground is the Scotiabank Arena.

Scotiabank Arena, formerly Air Canada Centre, is a multipurpose arena located on Bay Street in the South Core district of Downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and can hold up to 19,800 spectators.

The 20,500-capacity Amalie Arena is an arena in Tampa, Florida, and is used for ice hockey, basketball, arena football games, and concerts. It is home to the Tampa Bay Lightning of the National Hockey League (NHL) and is the temporary home of the Toronto Raptors of the NBA.

Andrew McIntyre SVP, Technology & Innovation, Amalie Arena, US, is a Member of Coliseum – Global Sports Venue Alliance.

The 2020-21 NBA seasons will begin on December 22nd. The NBA and the National Basketball Players’ Association (NBPA) announced on November 9th that they have struck a deal on rules for the 2020-21 campaign.

The Raptors arrived at a decision last month that they would begin their 2020-21 seasons in Florida (US) amid travel-related COVID-19 restrictions in Canada. The Raptors had sought to open the season at their Scotiabank Arena home in Toronto and worked with public health officials at local, provincial and Federal level to make the same feasible.

However, Raptors President Masai Ujiri said that while the talks were productive, the public health situation in Canada and the “urgent need” to determine where the team would play led to the decision to head to Amalie Arena.

On December 15th, the Raptors announced plans to host a limited number of fans beginning with their preseason game against the Miami Heat (the NBA team based in Miami) which was held on December 18th.

The Raptors said fan attendance protocols will involve extensive health and safety measures, including physically distanced seat availability. There will be fewer than 3,200 seats available for the preseason game, and 3,800 seats for regular season games. There will be no floor seats and no seats sold within 30 feet of the court.

Additional measures include: All fans in the age bracket of two years or above will have to compulsorily wear face coverings for the duration of their time within the venue, enhanced surface and air disinfection systems will be in place, social distancing in the stands and while navigating the venue, a healthy survey screening for all guests as they enter the arena, payments will be a cashless affair in the parking lot as well as for food and beverage services, and nobody can carry bags for all Raptors games at the arena.

“In these unique and challenging times, the Raptors are grateful to be able to work closely with the NBA, the Lightning organization and the local public health officials to create a safe opportunity for a limited number of fans to take in games,” remarked Tom McDonald, Vice-President, Tickets Sales and Service for the team’s ownership group, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE).

Added McDonald, “As the Raptors call Tampa home for the start of the NBA season, the team looks forward to the opportunity to thank the community for their support while continually emphasizing the important steps required of all of us for a full return of fans when it is safe to do so.”

The Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Limited (MLSE) is Canada’s pre-eminent leader in delivering top quality sport and entertainment experiences to fans. MLSE is one of North America’s leading providers of exceptional experiences.

Steve Griggs, CEO, Tampa Bay Lightning and Amalie Arena, stated, “Amalie Arena is thrilled to play host to the Raptors and the NBA and we are proud of our partnerships with the local public health agencies that allows a safe return to live events.

Griggs added, “The safety of our guests and our community is our top priority and these rigorous health and safety protocols have been put in place to ensure that our fans’ experience at Amalie Arena is both safe and enjoyable. We look forward to a safe and successful stay in Tampa for the Raptors.”

With the NBA coming to town, Tampa is also seeking wider benefits from the Raptors’ stay, along with proving Amalie Arena is a safe location for events during COVID-19 which is still holding the world in its throes.

Santiago Corrada of Visit Tampa Bay told mediapersons, “The restaurants down there, the retail, the attractions, might see some economic impact.

We have been marketing in Miami. We have been marketing in other parts of the State where people would take a number of hours to get here, and would stay overnight.”

Visit Tampa Bay is a private organization that encourages adventurous travelers to unlock Tampa Bay’s trove of unique treasures.

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