The Toronto Raptors NBA basketball team will return to Scotiabank Arena for a pre-season fixture against the Philadelphia 76ers on October 4, in what will mark its first game in Canada since February 2020.
The Raptors played the entire 2020-21 season at Florida’s Amalie Arena, home of NHL ice hockey team the Tampa Bay Lightning, due to COVID-19 travel restrictions between the US and Canada.
The Raptors’ last game at Scotiabank Arena was against the Charlotte Hornets on February 28, 2020. After the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic the following month, the NBA concluded its 2019-20 season at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Florida, before the Raptors headed to Amalie Arena for the 2020-21 campaign.
After more than 19 months, Raptors fans will finally be able to watch their team at Scotiabank Arena against the 76ers on October 4. The Raptors’ pre-season schedule also includes a game against the Houston Rockets at Scotiabank Arena on October 11.
It is unclear how many fans will be permitted for the 76ers game, although a spokesperson for the Raptors told CBC that the team is optimistic regarding its ability to host full-capacity events. The Raptors’ first regular-season game will be against the Washington Wizards on October 20.
Last month, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of the Raptors and the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, said that fans would be required to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative test result in order to enter its venues. Scotiabank Arena is the home of both the Maple Leafs and Raptors, and will uphold the entry requirements.
The Maple Leafs were able to play at Scotiabank Arena last season after receiving approval from the Ontario government. The Maple Leafs only played against the NHL’s six other Canadian teams last season to minimise team travel.
Canada’s only Major League Baseball team, the Toronto Blue Jays, returned home in July after almost two years of playing games in the US.