TAMPA, Fla. — NBA fans in Tampa Bay are thrilled to host the Toronto Raptors as the team temporarily relocates due to travel concerns and coronavirus restrictions in Canada.
The Raptors will open its season in Tampa, playing 36 regular-season games at Amalie Arena.
“Have that opportunity, even if it’s just for a year, to get to check out not only the Raptors but the other teams that are going to come into town and hopefully maybe get to go to some games depending on what they decide with attendance,” said Tyler Franz, of Tampa.
A message from our CEO, Steve Griggs pic.twitter.com/MkBsllsAif— Amalie Arena (@AmalieArena) November 20, 2020
Franz is a longtime Heat fan, but recognizes how important this is for the region. Franz says landing a pro hoops team is the missing piece in Tampa Bay’s sports scene.
“It is exciting and it gives us something to be proud of our city for and take our mind off things in a year that has been particularly challenging for a lot of people,” said Franz.
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Franz’s wife, a dual-citizen who spent the first five years of her life in Canada, says this is an opportunity for the team to expand its fan footprint in America.
“A lot of times they represent the whole country of Canada,” said Faith Franz. “Having another city under their belt on top of the whole country of Canada would be a really great addition to their fan base.”
As for watching the 2019 NBA Finals Champions play in-person, there has been no decision by the league on whether fans will be allowed inside the arena.
NBA’s regular season tips off Christmas week.