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Report: Tampa Bay emerges as leading candidate to host Raptors – Yahoo Canada Sports

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The Raptors could be heading back to Florida for the upcoming season, with Tampa Bay emerging as a leading candidate to host the team. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
The Raptors could be heading back to Florida for the upcoming season, with Tampa Bay emerging as a leading candidate to host the team. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

After being locked in Disney World for the better part of two months, the Toronto Raptors might be headed right back to Florida for the 2020-21 season.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Tampa Bay has emerged as the most likely host for the Raptors if Canadian border restrictions due to COVID-19 keep them from playing in Toronto, according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet.” data-reactid=”24″>Tampa Bay has emerged as the most likely host for the Raptors if Canadian border restrictions due to COVID-19 keep them from playing in Toronto, according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet.

Their preference remains staying in Toronto, as that would preserve access to their world-class training facilities, in addition to keeping staff in their local market. However, there is currently a mandatory 14-day quarantine period for anyone entering Canada, and previous bids by the Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto FC to stay in market were rejected by the government.

How would it work in Tampa Bay?

The Raptors would play in Amalie Arena, which currently hosts the Tampa Bay Lightning. The arena was built in 1996 and has previously hosted NBA exhibition games in addition to NCAA games and other events. Due to COVID-19, the arena has not been in use since March.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="“Ideally the Raptors are able to play their upcoming season in Toronto, but should that not be possible, we would have a strong interest in working to successfully meet and exceed their expectations as an alternative host,” Tampa Bay Sports Commission executive director Rob Higgins said.” data-reactid=”28″>“Ideally the Raptors are able to play their upcoming season in Toronto, but should that not be possible, we would have a strong interest in working to successfully meet and exceed their expectations as an alternative host,” Tampa Bay Sports Commission executive director Rob Higgins said.

There are several advantages to playing in Tampa Bay. For one, there is no state income tax, which might matter more in a year when the NBA is asking players to forfeit upwards of 20 percent of their salaries. Second, the Raptors would remain on the East Coast so games can still be televised in their usual time slot. Third, the weather is tropical throughout the winter, and Tampa Bay is a short flight away from the five teams in the Southeast Division.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Fred VanVleet has pushed for Tampa Bay as a temporary host, according to his recent appearance on the Old Man and the Three Podcast. VanVleet is a free agent and not a sure bet to re-sign, but he is one of the most influential voices on the team.” data-reactid=”30″>Fred VanVleet has pushed for Tampa Bay as a temporary host, according to his recent appearance on the Old Man and the Three Podcast. VanVleet is a free agent and not a sure bet to re-sign, but he is one of the most influential voices on the team.

Another viable location would be Newark, which would keep the Raptors in the Atlantic Division and minimize travel. Kansas City, Louisville and Nashville are among other possible destinations.

Time is running out to stay in Canada

The Raptors want to stay in Toronto, but time is against them. With training camp starting on Dec. 1, the Raptors need to make a firm decision on where they will play because they will not switch locations midway through. Their plan to stay in market will need to be approved at all three levels of government.

Risk can be minimized if the NBA follows strict guidelines. If travelling parties can all produce negative tests before crossing the border and stay disciplined in minimizing contact outside of the airport, hotel and arena, then there shouldn’t be a huge health risk. However, it could be a difficult sell politically to open the border for professional athletes, while keeping it closed to most citizens.

There is also the possibility of changes to the current border restrictions. The federal government purchased over eight million rapid tests in October, with hopes that on-site testing at airports could replace the mandated 14-day quarantine. However, current travel restrictions were extended until Nov. 21, which leaves a very small window to implement a change in policy in time for the Raptors to start their season.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="More Raptors coverage on Yahoo Sports Canada” data-reactid=”36″>More Raptors coverage on Yahoo Sports Canada

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Report: Rogers Centre could be demolished for new downtown Toronto stadium – Sportsnet.ca

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The possibility of a new home stadium is emerging for the Toronto Blue Jays, though nothing’s final at this stage with discussions still ongoing.

According to the Globe and Mail, Rogers Communications Inc., the parent company of the Blue Jays as well as Sportsnet, and Brookfield Asset Management Inc. are working with city, provincial and federal officials on a plan to demolish the Rogers Centre, effectively turning half of the downtown Toronto property into a new, baseball-first stadium at the south end and the other portion into residential towers, office buildings, stores and public space.

“Prior to the pandemic, we were exploring options for the stadium but through this year our primary focus has been keeping our customers connected and employees safe, so there is no update on the Rogers Centre to share at this time,” said Andrew Garas, director of communications at Rogers.

Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro has previously expressed the need to take a wide-scale refurbishment of Rogers Centre, the Blue Jays’ home since 1989. If plans for a new downtown stadium fall through, per the Globe, Rogers is also said to be considering building a new stadium on a lakefront site, potentially the 12-acre Quayside property where Google’s Sidewalk Labs had planned to house its now-abandoned smart-city project.

The multibillion-dollar plan would be funded by Rogers and Brookfield, but needs government approvals to move forward. While Rogers owns the stadium, the federal government owns the land.

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NBA Free Agency Report: Raptors waive Dewan Hernandez – RaptorsHQ

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In a surprising turn, the Raptors officially announced this afternoon that they are waiving centre Dewan Hernandez in advance of the 2020-21 season. The soon-to-be 24-year-old big man would have once again been the Raptors 14th or 15th man for the coming season, but it still comes as something of a shock given Toronto’s usual regard for their own draft picks as of late — and their ability to develop them into useful NBA players.

The thinking here from Toronto may have more to do with roster management and salary cap thinking than potential. Though, due to things he could and couldn’t control, Hernandez didn’t do much to prove he could stick in the NBA.

Hernandez joined the Raptors for the 2019-20 season as the 59th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. There’s usually no reason to believe a player picked in that range will hang on in the league, but Hernandez is a lithe 6’10”, 235 pounds, and showed he had some of the mobility and shooting range needed to be a new-age frontcourt player in the NBA. He still had a ways to go, particularly on the defensive end and appeared in just six games during last season for the Raptors. Unfortunately a serious ankle injury kept him off the floor for the 905 in the G League as well, which surely hurt his development — and his chances of staying with the Raptors.

After adding two new rookies in the 2020 NBA Draft — Malachi Flynn and Jalen Harris — and then signing a pair of established centres in Aron Baynes and Alex Len, it was clear the Raptors were about to run into a bit of a roster crunch. As reviewed here: with Hernandez on the roster, the team was at 16 players — and that’s before adding Len as the team’s backup centre, and before addressing what to do with their other two-way contract slot, which may go to rookie Harris or a returning Oshae Brissett (who is still on the restricted free agent market). There’s also Terence Davis to consider, but we’ll leave that for now.

In truth, Toronto just did not have a lot to lose by letting Hernandez go. Some team could — and likely will — pick him up to become their 15th man or to solidify their G League roster at some point in the future. But with no timetable for a G League return and roster needs now shifting elsewhere for Toronto (e.g. it’s hard to teams to justify carrying three centres), releasing Hernandez saves the team a few bucks in the short term and presumably opens the way for the return of Brissett or some other forward option.

Here’s hoping Hernandez can regain his footing in the NBA soon because, I’ll be honest, he flashed some funky skills at times and I hope he gets a chance to ply his trade for real in the league. Best of luck, Dewan.

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Report: Ravens close facility until next week; game vs. Steelers in jeopardy – Sportsnet.ca

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The Baltimore Ravens are closing their training facility until Monday at the earliest due to the team’s COVID-19 outbreak, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Sunday’s game between the Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers — which was originally scheduled for the Thanksgiving primetime slot on Thursday — figures to be in jeopardy, though it has not yet been postponed.

Five additional Ravens tests came back positive on Thursday, with four players and one staff member contracting the coronavirus. Linebacker Pernell McPhee, running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins and defensive tackle Brandon Williams had previously been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

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