The Orlando Magic have purchased the Erie BayHawks and will move the NBA D-League franchise to Lakeland, FL, the club announced Wednesday.
This summer, it was noted that the Magic were seeking to purchase the BayHawks and move the franchise closer to Orlando. Lakeland is ultimately where the club will play, as the Magic settled on The Lakeland Center as the future home for the franchise. Kissimmee’s Silver Spurs Arena was also reported to have been in the mix. The Magic and BayHawks are the final year of their three-year affiliation agreement, and the team’s move will take effect for the 2017-18 D-League season.
“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.
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