By now through social media or news coverage you've probably heard that the Orlando Magic announced today that their development league team will now play at the Lakeland Center. What is buried in the headline is great news for Winter Haven - "The anticipated relocation of the NBA Development League team also includes the future development of a practice facility in nearby Winter Haven."
That's right, we will have a practice facility for the team in Winter Haven. This location is likely to be the proposed field house at the Chain of Lakes Complex. More details to come, but we will have professional basketball in Winter Haven, with games played at the Lakeland Center. Great news!
Official Release below:
The Orlando Magic and the NBA Development League announced today that the Magic has agreed to purchase the Erie BayHawks and intend to relocate the team to Lakeland, Florida, to begin play during the 2017-18 season. With the purchase, the Magic become the 17th NBA team to own and operate their NBA D-League affiliate.
The franchise, which will be owned and operated by the Orlando Magic, will play its 24 home games at The Lakeland Center. Season ticket deposits for the 2017-18 season are now being accepted by calling 407-447-2210 or logging on to OrlandoMagic.com/Lakeland.
“When we started this process, our goal was to have our Development League team closer to home and the perfect fit for us was the City of Lakeland,” said Orlando Magic CEO and D-League Team Managing Partner Alex Martins. “Having our D-League team in Lakeland gives us the best opportunity, not only to continue developing our young players, but to extend the Orlando Magic brand across Central Florida.”
“Today's announcement not only shows the continued growth of the NBA D-League but also enables the Magic to develop players close to home and provides fans in Central Florida the opportunity to watch top NBA prospects compete,” said NBA D-League President Malcolm Turner. “I’m thrilled to welcome the Magic as NBA D-League owners, and I want to thank Steve Demetriou and Owen McCormick for their leadership in Erie.”
“Things happen in a city which can profoundly change for the better that city’s future,” said City of Lakeland Mayor Howard Wiggs. “Lakeland now has professional basketball and we are excited. This is a great example that Lakeland has a bright future and we are glad to be partnering with such a quality organization like the Orlando Magic.”
“I’m excited for the opportunity Lakeland has to host the Orlando Magic D-League franchise,” said Lakeland City Manager Tony Delgado. “This activity will continue the legacy of our great facility that has been host to many wonderful events over the years.”
“The Lakeland Center is thrilled to welcome the NBA D-League to Polk County,“ said The Lakeland Center Executive Director Tony Camarillo. “It was a focused effort that involved many members from all over the community. Bringing professional basketball to Lakeland will not only continue to increase the sports and entertainment options available to this thriving community, but it joins the ranks of other prestigious events that The Lakeland Center is honored to host, making Lakeland, Florida, a premiere destination for sports and entertainment in Central Florida.”
The anticipated relocation of the NBA Development League team also includes the future development of a practice facility in nearby Winter Haven.
“Getting the various municipalities and government bodies to partner together is just one reason why Polk County is special,” said Director of Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing Mark Jackson. “At the end of the day, all parties agree that having another major sports partner in our county portfolio will have nothing but a positive impact, both on our image nationally as well as on our local economy. We continue to enjoy an 80-year relationship with the Detroit Tigers and look forward to building that same type of relationship with the Magic.”
The Magic also announced that Shelly Wilkes has been named the team’s president, and Steve Demetriou and Alex Martins will be joining as minority partners in the ownership of the team.
Wilkes has been a full-time member of the Orlando Magic staff since 2004 when she joined the organization in the ticket sales department as a group sales coordinator. She was promoted to group sales account executive in July 2005, then named game presentation manager in July 2006. She was later promoted to assistant director of event presentation in July 2007, director of arena and event presentation in 2010 and senior director of event presentation, broadcast production and creative services in 2015.
Wilkes received her bachelor's degree in general business from the University of Central Florida. She later graduated from the DeVos Sport Business Management Program at UCF, and earned master's degrees in both business administration and sport business management.
The Orlando Magic and the BayHawks recently began the final year of a three-year, single-affiliation hybrid partnership wherein the Magic control the basketball operations and local ownership manages business operations.
During the partnership, Orlando assigned two players to develop in Erie. In total, four current members of the Magic have NBA D-League experience: Arinze Onuaku, C.J. Watson, C.J. Wilcox and Stephen Zimmerman.
The NBA D-League season is made up of 50 regular-season games plus a postseason and runs from November to April.
The league consists of 22 teams for the 2016-17 season: Austin Spurs, Canton Charge, Delaware 87ers, Erie BayHawks, Fort Wayne Mad Ants, Grand Rapids Drive, Greensboro Swarm, Iowa Energy, Long Island Nets, Los Angeles D-Fenders, Maine Red Claws, Northern Arizona Suns, Oklahoma City Blue, Raptors 905, Reno Bighorns, Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Salt Lake City Stars, Santa Cruz Warriors, Sioux Falls Skyforce, Texas Legends,Westchester Knicks and Windy City Bulls.
Last season, 32 NBA D-League players earned 42 GATORADE Call-Ups to the NBA, while 68 NBA players spent time in the NBA D-League on assignment. In total, more than 40 percent of players drafted into the NBA since 2005 have spent time in the NBA D-League