TAMPA, Fla. — What if an NBA team at Amalie Arena were the norm and not the exception?
What You Need To Know
- The Toronto Raptors currently reside in Tampa due to the pandemic
- The NBA is looking to expand, possibly to a Tampa team
- Tampa's proximity to the Orlando Magic may be a concerning factor
“I would love to have an NBA, a WNBA team as well here in Tampa,” Mayor Jane Castor said.
For now, the Toronto Raptors are Tampa’s team. Thanks to COVID-19 restrictions, the 2019 NBA champions have made Tampa their home away from home. But what if it wasn’t a pandemic quick fix?
Would an NBA team permanently housed at Amalie Arena succeed?
“I’d love to see it because the NBA is exciting,” Tampa Bay Times reporter Rick Stroud said. “You know they play every other night much like hockey. You’d have that arena full with one or the other.
"I just don’t think that the Magic would allow it and I think it would be really stretching the dollar between the Bucs and the Rays and the Lightning,” he added.
Tampa’s proximity to the Orlando Magic might be the biggest sticking point. As well as the fact that Orlando owns the territorial rights to the Tampa Bay market. But the NFL put three teams in Florida. Why not three NBA teams?
“I’d love to see the NBA in Tampa Bay but I don’t think it will work just because I don’t think this is a basketball mecca,” Nabors Media Group CEO Mike Nabors said. “It’s a big baseball mecca and they still can’t support the Rays. I just don’t think there’s enough fan interest for basketball.”
“I don’t see Tampa Bay buying into the professional basketball team year in and year out,” Big County Preps CEO Preston Jackson said. “We are very finicky with our sports.”
Finicky? Sure. But Tampa loves a winner. Just check out the support of the Stanley Cup champions, the Lightning. And NBA Commissioner Adam Silver recently said the league is looking into expanding beyond it’s current 30 teams.
So why not Tampa?
“NBA, it’s a great arena experience that TV just can’t do it justice,” Tampa Bay resident Mark Cunningham said. “If it’s something that would come to Tampa, I think it would be well received by the community.”