The Toronto Raptors were established on November 4, 1993, when the NBA, as part of its expansion into Canada, awarded its 28th franchise to a group headed by Toronto businessman John Bitove for a then-record expansion fee of $125 million. Bitove and Allan Slaight of Slaight Communications each owned 39.5%, with the Bank of Nova Scotia (10%), Vice President Isiah Thomas (9%), David Peterson (1%) Phil Granovsky (1%) being minority partners. The Raptors, along with the Vancouver Grizzlies, played their first game in 1995, and were the first NBA teams based in Canada since the 1946 – 1947 Toronto Huskies, though the Buffalo Braves had played a total of 16 regular season games at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto from 1971 – 1975.
With Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLG) aging, MLGL began planning for a new home for the Maple Leafs in the 1990s. Following years of acrimonious negotiations with the Toronto Raptors on a shared a new arena, MLGL purchased 100% of the basketball club and the arena they had begun constructing, the Air Canada Centre (ACC), from Allan Slaight and the Bank of Nova Scotia on 12 February 1998. MLGL paid a reported $467 million, made up of $179 million for the team and $288 million for the arena. Richard Peddie, who had been President of the Toronto Raptors, was retained in the merger and became MLSE’s President and CEO. That July the company adopted a new name, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE), to reflect its broader holdings. MLSE subsequently ordered major modifications to the original design of the ACC, which was basketball-specific, to make it more suitable for hockey.
Construction of the Air Canada Centre was started by the Toronto Raptors under its initial ownership group headed by Canadian businessman John Bitove. Groundbreaking took place in March 1997. While construction was in progress, the Raptors and their partially completed arena were purchased by MLSE, which was contemplating building their own arena for the Maple Leafs to replace the aging Maple Leaf Gardens. MLSE subsequently ordered major modifications to the original design, which was basketball-specific, to make the arena became more suitable for hockey. Originally planned to cost $217 million ($295 million in 2015 dollars), MLSE increased the budget to $265 million after taking control. The Raptors were twice fined a million dollars which was donated to their charitable foundation by the NBA for missing deadlines to begin construction of their new arena.
The Air Canada Centre (ACC) is a multi-purpose indoor sporting arena located on Bay Street in the South Core district of Downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League (NHL), the Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the Toronto Rock of the National Lacrosse League (NLL). It was also home to the Toronto Phantoms of the Arena Football League (AFL) during their brief existence. The arena is popularly known as the ACC or the Hangar (the latter nickname came from its sponsorship by Air Canada).
The arena is owned and operated by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd. (MLSE), the same group that owns both the Leafs and Raptors, and is 665,000 square feet in size. In 2008, the ACC was the fifth busiest arena in the world and the busiest in Canada. Air Canada Centre is connected to Union Station and the underground pedestrian PATH system, providing access to public transportation (TTC’s Union subway station and GO Transit). There are also 13,000 parking spaces.
Before the 2010 – 2011 season began, there was much anticipation around the league over the fates of an elite pack of free agents, featuring the likes of Bosh, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Amar’e Stoudemire. Bosh and James eventually chose to converge in Miami with Wade, and the sign-and-trade transaction that ensued resulted in the Raptors receiving two first-round draft picks and a trade exception from Miami. Prior to this, Toronto had drafted Ed Davis, also a left-handed power forward like Bosh.
The 2019 NBA Finals was the championship series of the National Basketball Association (NBA)’s 2018 – 2019 season and conclusion of the season’s playoffs. In the best-of-seven playoff held from May 30 through June 13, 2019, the Eastern Conference champion Toronto Raptors defeated the Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors, four games to two, for the franchise’s first NBA championship. The Raptors’ Kawhi Leonard was named the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP).
This was the first ever appearance in the NBA Finals for Toronto, and the league’s first finals with games played outside of the United States. Home-court advantage was awarded to Toronto, who finished the regular season with one more win (58–24) than Golden State (57–25). This was the first time in five consecutive NBA Finals appearances that the then-two-time defending NBA-champion Warriors did not have home-court advantage. Also for the first time over those five postseasons, the Warriors were not facing the Cleveland Cavaliers in the championship round. This was the first finals since 2010 not to include LeBron James, who played in the past eight finals with Cleveland and the Miami Heat.
The Toronto Raptors are a Canadian professional basketball team based in Toronto, Ontario. The Raptors compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA), as a member club of the league’s Eastern Conference Atlantic Division. The team was established in 1995, along with the Vancouver Grizzlies, as part of the NBA’s expansion into Canada. When the Grizzlies relocated to Memphis, Tennessee to become the Memphis Grizzlies in 2001, the Raptors became the only Canadian-based team in the NBA. They originally played their home games at the SkyDome (since renamed Rogers Centre in 2005), before moving eastward along Bremner Boulevard to the Air Canada Centre in 1999.
1995 – Present / National Basketball Association
1995 – Present / Toronto Raptors
Raptors – The ownership group of Toronto’s prospective expansion team conducted extensive marketing research across Canada in 1994 and held a nationwide vote that helped team officials come up with a list of potential nicknames. The final selection – Toronto Raptors – was unveiled on Canadian national television on May 15, 1994. Raptors, which Jurassic Park helped popularize the year before, was eventually chosen over runners-up Beavers, Bobcats, Dragons, Grizzlies, Hogs, Raptors, Scorpions, T-Rex, Tarantulas, and Terriers.
NBA Championships 1
2019 – Present / Scotiabank Arena
1999 – 2018 / Air Canada Centre
1995 – 1999 / SkyDome
1998 – Present / Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment
1997 – 1998 / Allan Slaight
1995 – 1997 / John Bitove
*Blue is this team’s history