LAKELAND, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - The Orlando Magic and the NBA Development League announced 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.
“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.”
With the purchase, the Magic become the 17th NBA team to own and operate their 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.”
Located near the heart of Central Florida, Lakeland is approximately 55 miles from downtown Orlando and approximately 35 miles from downtown Tampa. The franchise, which will be owned and operated by the Orlando Magic, will play its 24 home games at The Lakeland Center.
“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.
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.
Season ticket deposits for the 2017-18 season are now being accepted by calling 407-447-2210 or logging on to OrlandoMagic.com/Lakeland.