Raptors get approval to return, play home games in Toronto this season


The Raptors are back in Toronto.

This was expected, but after a season played in Tampa Bay due to the pandemic and quarantine times in Canada, the Raptors will again play their home games at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto after getting approval from the Canadian government.

The Raptors’ first home preseason game will be against the 76ers on Oct. 4, with the first regular season game is Oct. 20 against Washington. The Raptors have already announced a vaccine mandate for home games — a recent negative coronavirus test is not good enough. To attend games will require proof of vaccination or a medical exemption (the same is true of Toronto Maple Leaf games). It is also possible that, if COVID numbers spike in Toronto, there could be a limit imposed on the number of fans who can attend games.

Toronto last played at home on Feb. 28, 2019 — they were on a road trip when the league shut down on March 11 of that year. After that they played in the bubble in Orlando, then last season set up a temporary residence in Tampa Bay.

Team president Masai Ujiri said playing in Tampa Bay last year set the Raptors back “years.” They missed the entire postseason last year (including the play-in games), but landed the No. 4 pick and used it to select Scottie Barnes.

The Raptors are retooling but are looking for a playoff year behind a resurgent Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, and Fred VanVleet.