The NBA’s Toronto Raptors are considering playing their upcoming 2020-21 season in Nashville at Bridgestone Arena, according to multiple reports.
Adam Vingan of The Athletic reported over the weekend that Raptors team officials visited Nashville last week and are eying the Nashville Predators’ home arena as their temporary venue for the NBA’s proposed 72-game, non-bubble season.
The NHL is targeting a Jan. 1 start date for the 2021-21 season and the NBA has proposed starting on Dec. 22 to fit their amended schedule.
Bridgestone Arena annually hosts the SEC men’s basketball tournament and is fully equipped for NBA games. The venue has also hosted women’s SEC and Ohio Valley Conference tournament games in addition to the first and second round of the NCAA Tournament in the past.
The Raptors are looking for a temporary home this season as the Canadian border is closed for nonessential travel. The same travel ban forced the Toronto Blue Jays to play their MLB season in Buffalo.
Nashville would be outside of Toronto’s regional demographic, playing in the Atlantic Division against the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks. Other cities being considered include Newark, New Jersey; Tampa Bay, Florida; and Kansas City, Missouri; with Newark making the most sense geographically.
“With the certainty of a shortened season and hopes of keeping COVID-19 at bay, the NBA is reportedly discussing ways to limit travel next season,” New York Daily News reporter Stefan Bondy said. “Increasing division games and holding baseball-like series are obvious solutions, and a Knicks-Nets-Raptors metro bubble could assist those efforts.”
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