The Toronto Raptors will have fans cheering them on at home games this season, albeit at their adopted home south of the border.
The team has announced plans to host a “limited number of fans” at Amalie Arena in Tampa, their temporary home court and the permanent home of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning.
A limited capacity of 3,800 will be allowed in the 20,500-seat arena, with fewer than 3,200 fans permitted to attend this Friday’s preseason game against the Miami Heat.
A number of safety precautions will be taken, including no floor seats and no seats sold within 30 feet of the court. Fans will be required to wear masks inside the arena, and physical distancing will be enforced while seated and walking inside the stadium.
Other precautions include:
- Enhanced surface and air disinfection systems
- Health survey screening for all guests as they enter the building
- Cashless payments at parking lots and concession stands
“In these unique and challenging times, the Raptors are grateful to be able to work closely with the NBA, the Lightning organization and local public health officials to create a safe opportunity for a limited number of fans to take in games,” said Tom McDonald, Vice President of Ticket Sales and Service for MLSE. “As the Raptors call Tampa home for the start of the NBA season, the team looks forward to the opportunity to thank the community for their support while continually emphasizing the important steps required of all of us for a full return of fans when it is safe to do so.”
Despite the fact that there have been more than 20,000 COVID-19-related deaths in Florida since the start of the pandemic, the state still has very relaxed laws to stop the spread of the virus. The Tampa Bay Lightning were allowed to have fans attend watch parties inside and outside Amalie Arena on their Stanley Cup run, and government officials had no issue with a boat parade to celebrate their championship.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is even allowing NFL teams to pack stadiums to full capacity if they want to, which thankfully they have not done to this point.
Tickets for Friday’s preseason game and the first 11 regular season Raptors home games will go on sale Thursday morning at 10 am ET, starting as low as $30.
“Amalie Arena is thrilled to play host to the Raptors and the NBA and we are proud of our partnerships with local public health agencies that allows a safe return to live events,” said Steve Griggs, Chief Executive Officer of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Amalie Arena. “The safety of our guests and our community is our top priority and these rigorous health and safety protocols have been put in place to ensure that our fans’ experience at AMALIE Arena is both safe and enjoyable. We look forward to a safe and successful stay in Tampa for the Raptors.”