Raptors, Lightning taking center stage at Tampa's Amalie Arena

For the first time in nine months, fans will head inside Amalie Arena.

The Toronto Raptors kick-off their regular season Wednesday evening against the New Orleans Pelicans. The NBA team is playing at the Tampa venue this season to avoid COVID-19 travel rules between the U.S. and Canada. 
Then, the Stanley Cup Champs, the Tampa Bay Lightning, will resume playing when the NHL season begins Jan. 13. Amalie Arena will allow around 3,000 fans to attend.  

In addition to testing and coaches being required to wear masks on the bench, teams will only play opponents in the same, realigned division to minimize travel. Players will be prohibited from carpooling to games. There will be no road-trip roommates and teams must secure an additional two hotel rooms on road trips in the event of a positive COVID-19 test.


We The South: Raptors settling into their Tampa home

Just like last year, the Toronto Raptors are opening the season at home, against the New Orleans Pelicans, and every available ticket for the game has been sold. It’s exactly the same. And entirely different.

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To keep things safe, the venue spent quite a bit of money to get two certifications for being "COVID-safe."  More than 200 hand-sanitizing stations were installed around the arena along with Plexi glass windows at the concession stands.  

There are ultra-violet disinfectant lights above the handrails of every escalator in the building.  Also,  there is a new hospital-grade HVAC system in the building to keep the air clean. 

Spectators say they are ready to be inside and watch a game – in-person.

"We were just saying last Christmas we were in Toronto and Boston," said Carmen Donaldson, a Raptors fan. "That was our last sporting event – a year ago."