BUFFALO, N.Y. — The City of Buffalo embraced the Toronto Blue Jays during the summer when they needed a home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the Toronto Raptors will not be following that same path, despite a push from Western New York leaders.
The lone NBA team north of the border announced Friday that it will start the 2020-21 season in Tampa, Florida, due to COVID-19 restrictions in Canada.
"The Raptors worked diligently with public health officials at the local, provincial and federal level to secure a plan that would permit us to play our 2020-21 season on home soil and on our home court at Scotiabank Arena," Raptors president Masai Ujiri said in a statement. "These conversations were productive, and we found strong support for the protocols we put forward.
"Ultimately, the current public health situation facing Canadians, combined with the urgent need to determine where we will play means that we will begin our 2020-21 season in Tampa, Florida."
The Buffalo Common Council showed its support for an NBA return to the Queen City, where the Raptors would have played at KeyBank Center.
New York State Senator Tim Kennedy also sent a letter to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, requesting that the Raptors make Buffalo its "home away from home in the event that the Canadian Federal Government declines to provide the Raptors an exception to the current ban on cross-border travel between Canada and the United States."
Tampa had recently emerged as the favorite to land to the Raptors, according to Sportsnet, a Canadian sports outlet.