The Financial Impact COVID-19 has had on Toronto Sport Teams

Kyle Lowry #7 of the Toronto Raptors holds the championship trophy during the Toronto Raptors Victory Parade on June 17, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. The Toronto Raptors beat the Golden State Warriors 4-2 to win the 2019 NBA Finals.

By: Matthew Chiu and Daniel Hor Masreghi

The last Raptors home game played with no fan capacity was February 28, 2020. We’re just over a week away from the 2-year anniversary of this feat. It’s no shocker that COVID-19 has been both mentally and physically draining on just about everyone. But how has the financial side of things affected things? Especially for a multi-billion dollar corporation like the NBA?

According to ESPN, in the 2019-2020 season that was completed in the Orlando bubble, the NBA revenue dropped 10% from $98 million to $83 million, which saw them lose out on approximately 1.5 billion dollars.

The Raptors were a team deeply affected by COVID-19. Fresh off their 2019 championship, the Raptors never had the opportunity to defend their title in front of their fans because of the virus and fell short to the Celtics in 7 games. Not only did they miss out on home-court advantage in the playoffs, but they also lost a significant amount financially.

The Raptors franchise reportedly lost a whopping 36 million dollars, the 8th most in the league, according to The Athletic (subscription required) from the bubble season. Combine that with the season after with Raptors President Masai Ujiri calling it the “Tampa tank” after essentially throwing the season for a high draft pick, and a season now where zero fans are attending games, the Raptors haven’t been able to recoup some of that lost 36 million back.

Sandra Atri, a season ticket holder for the Raptors, remains hopeful that the fan experience returns to it’s pre-pandemic ways, but admits it hasn’t been the same since the pandemic.

“I’ve been a big supporter for many years, but it’s not the same when you’re watching on T.V as opposed to being court side and being close to the game and players” Atri admitted.

TSN’s Scott Hart believes that the Raptors will be able to make up for the lost money that COVID-19 has brought.

“I think though it’s gonna be an uphill battle, but if things go right, they should be able to return to their money-making ways. They’re starting to win once again, and with restrictions possibly being lifted and fans returning, a deep playoff run can certainly help their case” Hart says.

It’s certainly been a downhill spiral for the Raptors financially. In their championship season, Toronto made a total revenue of 334 mill. Fast forward to the present just 3 years later, they’re projected to make just 194 million, a 42% drop-off from 2019.


It’s been a similar trend for the Maple Leafs.

The Raptors share the Scotia Bank Arena with the Maple Leafs, and unfortunately for them, it’s been a common theme. In 2021, the Maple Leafs lost a league high $42 million in ticket revenue. The team to lose the second most? The Nashville Predators at 20.64 mill. That’s less than 50% compared to the total Toronto lost out on.

It’s been so bad that the NHL, the Maple Leafs, along with 20 other NHL teams have filed for a $1 billion COVID-19 Insurance lawsuit early in 2022. The lawsuit claims that the league and NHL team’s losses go beyond 1 billion dollars.

It’s been a rough 2 years for everybody. But with Ontario, who’s had one of the strictest COVID restrictions, finally looking like they’ll be re-opening, here’s hoping that both the Leafs and Raptors can return to their money-making ways and of course their winning-ways.


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