Like the Toronto Blue Jays (MLB), the Toronto Raptors are the only NBA franchise in Canada. The City of Toronto is the only city in Canada that has been able to maintain support of professional sports franchises other than hockey as the Vancouver Grizzlies moved to Memphis and the Montreal Expos (MLB) moved to Washington, DC since 2000. The Raptors were an expansion franchise that began playing in 1995 at the SkyDome (now known as the Rogers Centre). Built as a multipurpose stadium for football and baseball, the SkyDome was too large for basketball games. Construction of a new arena for the Raptors and the Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL) began in February 1997.
FACTS & FIGURES
-Tenants: Toronto Raptors (NBA), Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL)
-Cost: $265 million
-Architect: HOK Sport, Brisbin Brook Architects
-Address: 40 Bay Street, Toronto, ON M5J-2N8
-Former Name(s): None
Located in downtown Toronto along Bay Street, the Raptors played their first game at the Air Canada Center on February 21, 1999 against the Vancouver Grizzlies. Air Canada paid $40 million over 20 years for the naming rights to the Raptors home. The arena is unique as it was built on the site of the Canada Post Delivery Building and has incorporated part of the original building into the façade on the east and south parts of the Air Canada Center. Many fans enter through this area, known as the Galleria, where the fan zone and merchandise areas can be found. The Air Canada Center has a seating capacity of just under 20,000. It has many modern amenities including 1,020 club seats, 150 suites, the Molson microbrewery, the Air Canada Club and the Hot Stove Restaurant.
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History of the Toronto Raptors
The Toronto Raptors are a professional basketball team based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The team was founded in 1995 and is a member of the Eastern Conference of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Over the course of its history, the Raptors have established themselves as one of the top franchises in the NBA, with several successful seasons and several legendary players.
In the early years of the Raptors’ existence, the team struggled to find success on the court. Despite this, the team managed to rebuild and retool its roster over time, led by talented players such as Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady. With this new talent in place, the Raptors became a competitive team and made several deep playoff runs in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
In the mid-2010s, the Raptors were led by talented players such as Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, who helped the team establish itself as a top team in the Eastern Conference. Despite this success, the Raptors continued to struggle to reach the NBA Finals, with several playoff exits along the way.
In 2018, the Raptors signed superstar Kawhi Leonard, who led the team to its first NBA championship in 2019. With Leonard as the centerpiece, the Raptors became one of the top teams in the NBA and made several deep playoff runs over the next few years.
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