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Raptors to open home games to fans starting March 19

Tickets will go on sale to the general public Thursday. A presale will take place on Wednesday.
The seats inside Amalie Arena won't remain empty for much longer. The Raptors will open the arena to a limited capacity of 3,500 fans for their remaining regular-season home games, beginning with their March 19 contest against the Utah Jazz.
The seats inside Amalie Arena won't remain empty for much longer. The Raptors will open the arena to a limited capacity of 3,500 fans for their remaining regular-season home games, beginning with their March 19 contest against the Utah Jazz. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Mar. 8
Updated Mar. 8

TAMPA — The Raptors will open Amalie Arena to a limited capacity of 3,500 fans for their remaining regular-season home games beginning with their March 19 contest against the Utah Jazz.

The Raptors, who are training and playing their home games in Tampa due to Canadian travel restrictions that prevent them from playing in Toronto, have 18 remaining home games during the regular season, including contests against the Golden State Warriors on April 2, Los Angeles Lakers on April 6 and Brooklyn Nets on April 21 and 27.

Tickets will go on sale to the general public Thursday at 10 a.m. through Ticketmaster. There will be a presale for Raptors and Lightning members on Wednesday.

The Raptors played their first four games — three regular-season games and one preseason game — to a limited-capacity crowd of about 3,800. But when coronavirus case and positivity numbers spiked locally in January, the Vinik Sports Group, which manages Amalie Arena and owns the Lightning, shut down the arena to fans.

The Lightning announced last week they were opening the arena to the general public (capacity will be capped at 3,800) starting with Saturday’s home game against Nashville. Earlier this month, the team welcomed about 500 select family and friends as a soft opening.

The Raptors spent most of the season unaffected by the coronavirus but recently had two games postponed because head coach Nick Nurse and five of his assistants were in the league’s health and safety protocols. Toronto played its last two games prior to the all-star break without five players — including starters Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby — who were in protocols.

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at eencina@tampabay.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.