Alton Strupp (USA Today)

Canada has been far stricter when it comes to allowing professional sports to exist in the age of COVID-19 than the United States has. The Toronto Blue Jays had to play their home games in Buffalo this season. Toronto FC played in East Hartford. The NBA hasn’t yet set a start date for its next season, but in all likelihood, it is going to have to find a new, temporary home for the Raptors when it does. 

One market has emerged as an early candidate according to Yahoo’s Vincent Goodwill: Louisville. It has an NBA-ready arena in the KFC Yum! Center, and former Louisville Cardinal and NBA forward-turned successful businessman Junior Bridgeman has spoken with the NBA about bringing the Raptors to the city. The league is still very early in the process of considering where the Raptors should play next season, and a board of governors call Friday should offer more clarity. There is also the possibility that the Raptors share an existing market with another NBA team, according to Goodwill. 

Louisville has been seeking an expansion team for years, and was in contention for both the Grizzlies and Hornets during their relocation processes. While Seattle still tops the list of best available NBA markets, Lousiville could use the chance to host the Raptors as a sort of audition for the league. Oklahoma City had a similar opportunity when it served as a temporary home for the Hornets after Hurricane Katrina. Fan support was so strong that a single season of Hornets basketball eventually paved the way for the Sonics to move to Oklahoma and become the Thunder. 

Unlike the Hornets, the Raptors are not a long-term relocation candidate. Toronto is a strong NBA market, and while Scotiabank Arena is over two decades old, the Raptors have not agitated for a new building. But the financial climate in the NBA right now could make expansion a possibility, as the league could use such an infusion of cash. If that is a road the NBA is willing to consider, Louisville could help its chances significantly by serving as a temporary home for the Raptors. 

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