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, Fla., to begin play for the 2017-18 season. The anticipated relocation of the NBA D-League team also includes the future development of a practice facility in nearby Winter Haven, Fla. With the purchase, the Magic, owned by local Grand Rapids businessman and Amway founder Rich DeVos, becomes the 17th NBA team to own and operate an NBA D-League affiliate.
“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.”
“When we started this process, our goal was to have our NBA Development League team closer to home, and the perfect fit for us was the City of Lakeland,” said Magic CEO and NBA D-League Team Managing Partner Alex Martins. “Having our D-League team in Lakeland gives us the best opportunity to continue developing our young players and extend the Orlando Magic brand across Central Florida.”
Located near the heart of Central Florida, Lakeland is approximately 55 miles from downtown Orlando and approximately 35 miles from downtown Tampa. The franchise will play its 24 home games at The Lakeland Center.
“Things happen in a city which can profoundly change for the better that city’s future,” said Mayor of Lakeland 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.”
“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 a premiere destination for sports and entertainment in Central Florida.”
The Magic and the BayHawks recently began the final year of a three-year, single-affiliation hybrid partnership wherein the Magic controls the basketball operations and local ownership manages business operations. During the partnership, Orlando has assigned two players to develop in Erie. Four current members of the Magic have NBA D-League experience: Arinze Onuaku, C.J. Watson, C.J. Wilcox and Stephen Zimmerman.
The Magic also announced that Shelly Wilkes has been named the Lakeland team’s president, and Demetriou and Martins will be joining as minority partners in the ownership of the new team. Wilkes currently serves as the Magic’s senior director of event presentation, broadcast production and creative services. She has been a full time member of the Magic staff since 2004.
Season-ticket deposits for the 2017-18 season are now being accepted by calling 407-447-2210 or logging on to OrlandoMagic.com/Lakeland.
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