We end 2017 with a countdown of the 10 biggest stories of the year on Arena Digest, as chosen by editors and partially based on page views. Today, #9: The NBA Gatorade League (G League) continues to grow.
For the NBA G League, a change in identity was not the only new development in 2017. While the addition of a title sponsor signaled a major shift for the former NBA Development League, the circuit also continued its momentum on the expansion front.
In 2016, the league added three new teams in the form of the Greensboro Swarm, Windy City Bulls, and the Long Island Nets. Expansion was once again at the forefront in 2017, when the league welcomed four new clubs, including the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario, Memphis Hustle, Wisconsin Herd, and a new version of the Erie BayHawks.
Furthermore, the G League saw other changes that reflected the increase in involvement of NBA teams. The Minnesota Timberwolves purchased the former Iowa Energy, and rebranded the team as the Iowa Wolves. The Orlando Magic purchased the former Erie BayHawks franchise and relocated it to Lakeland, FL, where it became the Lakeland Magic.
With the change in teams also came a new slate of arenas, with perhaps the most notable addition being in Wisconsin. For the arrival of the Herd, Oshkosh constructed the brand-new Menominee Nation Arena, which opened for the Herd in December. Meanwhile, the South Bay Lakers moved into the UCLA Health Training Center, and the Nets arrived at the newly-renovated Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum after spending the 2016-17 campaign at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
In addition, the G League has already planted the seeds for future changes. The Atlanta Hawks will eventually move the BayHawks into a new arena in College Park, GA, with the venue set to open for the 2019-20 season.
The Washington Wizards recently took a major step by announcing the branding for their forthcoming G League team, the Capital City Go-Go. Slated to become the G League’s 27th club, the Go-Go will debut next season at the St. Elizabeths East Entertainment and Sports Arena. That is not expected to be the only arena debuting next year, as another will open in Wilmington, DE, where the Delaware 87ers will move into the new 76ers Fieldhouse.
Another major development for the G League occurred last week, when it was announced that games will be available for live stream on Twitch, a social video service and community for gamers. That announcement came at the tail end of a year that has represented changes for the G League on several fronts, and one that could allow it to continue growing in the future.
Previously in our Top Ten Stories of 2017 List: