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1995 - As the Toronto Raptors approached their scheduled home opener at the SkyDome on November 3 Cheap Evgeny Kuznetsov Hat , 1995, Toranto Raptors club President John I. Bitove could congratulate himself on having pulled off a remarkable achievement. Bringing NBA basketball back to Toronto, where the long-forgotten Toronto Huskies had tipped off against the New York Knickerbockers in 1946, had been an arduous process, fraught with obstacle after obstacle. It had not been such a struggle a half-century ago, when the Huskies became a charter member of the Basketball Association of America, the forerunner of the NBA. In fact Cheap T. J. Oshie Hat , Toronto had hosted the new league's first game on November 1, 1946, when the Knicks beat the Huskies, 68-66. The Toronto franchise folded at the end of the 1946-47 season, however, and the NBA wouldn't return to Canada for nearly 50 years. The current franchise traces its roots back to April 23, 1993 Cheap Nicklas Backstrom Hat , when the NBA announced that it had received a formal application from Professional Basketball Franchise (Canada) Inc. (PBF).
The ambitious group's president was Bitove, the son of a leading Canadian food services family and president of Bitove Investments Inc. (His father, John Bitove Sr., had approached the NBA about a franchise in Toronto during previous expansions.) The PBF group also included Allan Slaight of Standard Broadcasting Limited; Borden Osmak, a vice president of The Bank of Nova Scotia; Phil Granovsky of Atlantic Packaging Limited; and David Peterson, former premier of the Province of Ontario, who served as chairman. Originally Cheap Alex Ovechkin Hat , Bitove and Slaight were each to own 44 percent of the franchise, with the bank holding a 10-percent stake and Granovsky and Peterson 1 percent each. The ownership group later cut in former Detroit Pistons star Isiah Thomas, who received a 5-percent share from both Bitove and Slaight. Thomas later became a club vice president and the architect of the Toranto Raptors' roster.
The NBA's expansion into Toronto was unique for two reasons. First, it marked the league's first step beyond the borders of the United States. Second, PBF was only one of three viable prospective bid groups in the same city. In previous expansions the NBA had been faced with choosing between competing cities, but never with such a strong internal rivalry for a franchise within a single market. There was little doubt, however Cheap Jay Beagle Hoodie , that Toronto wanted and could support an NBA franchise-top-caliber exhibition basketball games had twice drawn more than 25,000 fans to the SkyDome, in 1989 and 1992. The door to Canada had been nudged open the previous year by the Palestra Group, led by road construction magnate Larry Tanenbaum of Toronto, who was joined in his application by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and Labatt Breweries, both of whom were also founding partners in baseball's highly successful Toronto Blue Jays.
The NBA was not considering expansion when Palestra put down an unsolicited application fee of $100,000 Cheap John Carlson Hoodie , but the possibilities presented by the untapped Canadian market were irresistible. Also joining the bid process were rock concert impresarios Bill Ballard and Michael Cohl, who had NBA legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson in their camp and support from Metro Toronto to develop a new arena on civic lands. In July 1993 an NBA expansion committee, headed by Phoenix Suns owner Jerry Colangelo, came to Toronto to meet with the bid groups, examine their plans, and visit their proposed arena sites. The PBF contingent made an immediate impact, based upon its criteria for a downtown site: it was to be on the subway line-giving Torontonians access without having to fight winter conditions-and close to the financial core of the city to entice major businesses to buy corporate boxes Cheap Braden Holtby Hoodie , a key element in the financial plan of 1990s sport franchises. Neither of the other bidders proposed a site that was so centrally located.
In the end, it was the arena plan that led the NBA expansion committee to recommend on September 30, 1993, that PBF be conditionally awarded a franchise for the 1995-96 season to become the 28th team in the league. The NBA Board of Governors endorsed that decision on November 4 and set a record expansion fee of $125 million, about four times the amount levied for the previous expansion. It was agreed that Toronto would play its first two seasons in the SkyDome while its own building was being completed. The battle was still far from over, however. There was a chance that the franchise agreement would be revoked over the thorny issue of an Ontario provincial betting game, Pro-Line Cheap Andre Burakovsky Hoodie , which among other things allowed bettors to wager on the outcome of NBA games.
The league's longstanding opposition to such a scheme ran up against the province's unwillingness to do away with a game that could put some $100 million into Ontario's coffers, some of it earmarked for hospitals. It took three months of sensitive negotiations involving the league, the PBF, and the province to resolve the dispute. The province finally acknowledged the boost an NBA team would provide to the local economy through taxes-$81 million the first year alone, according the the Metro Toronto Convention and Visitor Association-and the creation of 4,000 jobs necessitated by construction and related activities.
The Toronto Raptors club took on responsibility for various youth and community programs in order to offset dropping basketball from the betting slips. For its part, the NBA Cheap Philipp Grubauer Hoodie , eager to gain the Toronto Raptors market and wanting to preserve good relations with its new constituency, contributed $1.5 million to medical research, donated $2 million in television time to promote tourism in Ontario, joined with the Toronto Raptors team to create a charitable foundation, and agreed to hold the 1995 NBA Draft in Toronto.

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