NBA Eyes Louisville As Temporary Home For Toronto Raptors
2019 champions Toronto Raptors is the only Canada-based team in the NBA since the Grizzlies relocated from Vancouver to Memphis, Tennessee. As an expansion team, the Raptors play their home games and conduct training at the Scotiabank Arena.
The Raptors’ location was never a problem for the league. However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the NBA to limit travel frequency. As the new NBA season approaches with the pandemic still on its back, the league discusses the possibility of Louisville serving as a temporary home for the Raptors.
The discussion started when NBA-player-turned-businessman Junior Bridgeman contacted and informed the NBA that Louisville’s KFC Yum! The Center is now ready to cater to team training and live games. Journalist Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports confirmed the discussion yesterday.
The NBA considers assigning an alternative and temporary location for Raptors since expansion teams from other sports leagues have already relocated to the United States. Multiple discussions have been made, with Bridgeman’s offer as the most recent topic, but the board members have yet to release a statement.
“No decision has been made yet, as it’s on a laundry list of topics to be discussed on the upcoming call, along with the collective bargaining agreement, competitive formats for next season, and an update on the social justice coalition,” Goodwill said in his report.
It’s worth noting that a temporary home court is favorable to the Raptors. However, one downside is fan attendance. If the Raptors would play home games in the United States, the team would have a hard time building a natural fan base.
The location of the Raptors is just one of the league’s many problems as the 2021-22 season approaches. The NBA already faces several logistics issues and bargaining agreements due to the pandemic. Come what may, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s final decision regarding dates and tournament format is dependent on the future course of the pandemic.
The NBA’s current target date for the start of the next season is January 18 (Martin Luther King Day). This new calendar will aim to get the NBA back on track for normalcy for the 2021-22 season, preferably from October to June.