While an era of Erie BayHawks basketball has come to an end, some are still hopeful that Erie will be a viable long-term home for the NBA Development League.
Earlier this month, the original BayHawks played their final game at Erie Insurance Arena. Starting with the 2008-09 season, the BayHawks called Erie home and were affiliated with several different NBA franchises along the way, including the Orlando Magic.
The Magic eventually sought to continue a trend started by other clubs, and place their D-League affiliate closer to their NBA operations. It was announced last year that the Magic would purchase the BayHawks, and relocate the franchise to Lakeland, FL’s Lakeland Center.
Already, the Magic are moving forward with plans for the 2017-18 season, the first in which the D-League will be named the NBA Gatorade League (G-League). Last week, it was announced that the team will be renamed the Lakeland Magic, and Orlando is expected to close on its purchase of the BayHawks on May 1.
For now, however, Erie has a future in the G-League, as the Atlanta Hawks will place their franchise at Erie Insurance Arena starting next season. This move will be a temporary measure, as the new BayHawks are expected to spend two seasons in Erie before relocating to a new arena in College Park, GA.
Much like the original BayHawks’ move to Lakeland, the departure of the new BayHawks will reflect the trend of placing G-League teams closer to their NBA parent clubs. However, outgoing BayHawks lead investor Steve Demetriou is hopeful that Erie will prove to be a basketball home beyond the second incarnation of the BayHawks. More from GoErie.com:
It’s fortunate that Atlanta is doing this two-year deal, and we’ll see what happens after that. I think the fact that Erie has proven to be a successful minor league city, especially with the NBA, you could see a D-League team possibly decide to relocate there from one of their locations. I think that’s a possibility. There are still some NBA teams left with a D-League team that could decide they don’t need the proximity and they’re fine with the distance. I’m still hopeful the success in Erie will attract an NBA team.
Having a G-League team in Erie over the long run would likely require an NBA franchise that is not as reliant on proximity. Cleveland is the closest NBA city to Erie, and the Cavaliers–who were the BayHawks’ original parent club–currently own the Canton Charge.