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Who will host the Raptors?

Bobby Motus (The Freeman) - November 11, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — The NBA Players’ Union had tentatively agreed to a December 22 (Dec. 23 PH time) start of the 2020-2021 season with a 72-game schedule. The approved sked will have the regular season end in the middle of May, with the Finals stretching up to the third week of July, just a few days before the start of the Tokyo Olympics.

With a proposed 25% to 50% capacity of arenas, largely catering to those ridiculously expensive courtside seats and suites, we could be seeing again almost empty stadiums, which has become a kind of standard in these abnormal times.  These high-priced seats are hoped to close the gap on the $800m the NBA lost in gate receipts and a $400m loss on merchandise and sponsorships.

It will again be a big challenge for the league as they will be playing in-market and this will include travels on planes, on buses, stays in hotels and reminding players to stay in their rooms and will be asked to avoid bars, cafes and restaurants.  With the NBA mostly made up of twentysomethings, good luck in keeping tabs on its players.

Canada has strict travel restrictions in crossing the border to the US and with last Friday’s total US CoVid-19 infection of about 120,000 complicates things further. Canada-based major league teams like baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays and football’s Toronto FC play their home games in Buffalo, NY and East Hartford, Connecticut respectively.

This could be troubling for the Raptors.  Can they play their home games in Canada and travel freely to the US for their away games?

In comes Kansas City and they are interested in adopting the team for the 2020-2021 season.  They had written to the Raptors’ ownership group as well as to NBA commissioner Adam Silver expressing their willingness to host the Raptors.  They cited their existing fan bases for MLB’s KC Royals, NFL’s KC Chiefs and Sporting KC of MLS.

One of the city’s most famous resident, the Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, wants the Raptors to play in the city and Kansas City mayor Quinton Lucas is excited about it saying that Kansas is a major league city.  Mahomes’ support in bringing the Raptors for the season makes things appealing.

Kansas used to have an NBA team, the Kansas City Kings, but at the end of the 1984-1985 season, the franchise moved to the West Coast and became the Sacramento Kings.  35 years later, Kansas City just might host the Raptors, even temporarily, and be back on the NBA scene.

This could be a test run for Kansas for a return to the league.  A similar thing happened in 2005 when Oklahoma City hosted the Charlotte Hornets in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.  Three years later, Seattle Supersonics became the OKC Thunder.

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