Construction crews started on the brand new D-League facility that will be home to the Santa Cruz Warriors yesterday. The $5.4 million, 33,000 square foot arena was approved September 13, and within the coming months crews will have the new facility ready to host the Warriors first home game December 23.
The new Santa Cruz Warrior franchise will have large shoes to fill, replacing one of the more historically successful D-League outfits, the Dakota Wizards. The Wizards era spanned nearly two decades in Bismarck, the capitol city of North Dakota, and during that run the team won four titles in three different leagues (International Basketball Association, Continental Basketball Association, NBA Development League). Will we see more D-League teams relocating in the coming years? Take the jump to find out more.
As with any team relocation, there are positives and negatives. It will be unfortunate for D-League basketball fans in Bismarck, who will now be unable to watch the team and a league that they have come accustomed to supporting live. Last season, the Wizards clinched the 4th overall seed in the D-League playoffs, but ran into a hot Bakersfield Jam team who swept Dakota in the first round. As it would be hard for any fan to watch their team pick up and skip town, the basketball void that will linger in Bismarck this upcoming season will likely be tough for a fan base who has proven to be extremely supportive over the years.
With the D-League moving in a direction towards more teams hooking up with NBA franchises for single affiliations, one has to wonder, will there be more situations like Dakota's relocation in the near future? Looking at the D-League landscape, eleven teams out of the sixteen teams in the league currently have a single affiliate relationship with an NBA team. Five D-League teams affiliate themselves with three or more NBA teams. Out of those five, two are within a reasonable distance to NBA teams (Fort Wayne, Bakersfield).
The question remains, will the remaining non-single affiliated D-League franchises be bought out and relocated a la the Dakota Wizards? Well, for Golden State's argument, and what can be assumed as the case to be made for other NBA teams looking to establish single affiliations, proximity is the key for future success. For the Golden State Warriors to want to develop a more involved relationship with a D-League affiliate, they clearly felt the need for the team to be closer to their NBA operation. It's hard not to imagine that other NBA teams will follow suit with this reasoning, thus, leaving some well established supportive D-League communities all of sudden without their beloved team.