Empty arenas, trash talk and NBA expansion: 15 thoughts on the Raptors in Tampa

Title: Empty arenas, trash talk and NBA expansion: 15 thoughts on the Raptors in Tampa
Date: December 28, 2020
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I shared some leftover thoughts, notes, and takeaways from my trip to Tampa.

Fred VanVleet can finally go outside again.

On my second day in Tampa, Fla., I came across VanVleet pulling out of the valet area of the Marriott Water Street. The hotel is connected by a tunnel to the JW Marriott, of which an entire floor has been converted into the Toronto Raptors’ new practice facility. Within a stone’s throw to the west and south are the Seddon and Garrison Channels, respectively, which converge to feed into Hillsborough Bay, Tampa Bay and, eventually, the Gulf of Mexico. Less than a quarter-mile to the east is Amalie Arena, the Raptors’ home venue until at least early March.

The Marriott Water Street was chosen as the Raptors’ temporary home; with ample capacity, meeting rooms, a private restaurant and even a Topgolf, its immediate adjacency to everything the Raptors needed on the basketball front was convenient. For those who had since moved into condos or houses around the city, the hotel remained their valet service while at the new practice facility. Trying to figure out which rental Porsche, Corvette or Range Rover was pulling up was a fun game in my own head the rare times I crossed paths with Raptors personnel over my 10 days there.

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