On Tuesday, a local county executive announced a proposed plan that would enable the Knicks to have an NBA D-League team play its games out of White Plains, New York. Though that would mean the team ultimately gets to monitor its minor league affiliate closer to home, it will not mean moving the Erie BayHawks to the Big Apple.
Of course, as it currently stands, the Knicks are entered into a hybrid-affiliation with the BayHawks. This means that New York handles the basketball side of things, whereas the staff in Erie handles the business side of things.
So if the Knicks were to set up shop in Westchester, where would that leave the BayHawks? Where does the organization go from here?
In wake of the proposed news, Team President Matt Bresee spoke with RidiculousUpside.com to discuss what this all means for the BayHawks organization. Continue reading below to learn more.
Q: With the word out that the New York Knicks are looking to have an NBA D-League team In White Plains next season, what does the future hold for the Erie BayHawks? Where do you go from here?
A: I guess what we're clearing up, especially for our fans, is that the BayHawks aren't going anywhere. We're here in Erie to stay and are already planning for next season, Next year's season tickets just went into the mail. The recent reports are really just in relation to the affiliation. For fans who don't follow too closely, we're trying to clear up that the Knicks' affiliation was just a player development one.
They do not have any ownership stake in our franchise. The hybrid agreement that we have with them is a three year agreement, and it happens to expire at the end of this season. Where we are right now, with regard to what the future holds, we have a couple options: The Knicks could play here in Erie next year, they could find another affiliate, or, as the proposal out of Westchester suggests, there's the potential for the Knicks to own their own Development League team. In that case, we'd have to find a new affiliate.
This system is a lot like baseball, which fans are familiar with. The fans in Erie have seen it before, where an affiliation change may occur. In terms of doing business, nothing changes. We continue to play here in Erie, and we continue to do business as we do it. All the changes have to do with is who we're affiliated with, and in our case, who is running the basketball side of things. That's if, we were able to find another hybrid affiliate. That's where our desire would be. If the Knicks in fact own their own team, we'll go find another affiliate.
Q: Keeping in mind the three-year contract you mentioned, one could say that the Knicks aren't exactly abandoning the BayHawks, so to speak, by opting to leave. How do you view that?
A: The BayHawks organization fully supports the Development League's growth, as we may one day, get to thirty teams where every one has a one-to-one affiliation with an NBA team. Part of that process, which is actually very exciting to us, is a team in the New York area. Or there could be a couple of teams in the New York, New Jersey, Washington D.C., or Virginia area that don't have teams right now. When you look at growth potential in the league, you look at the long term --what kind of exposure that team would need. That's very exciting in itself. If that happens in the coming year, we'll read and react to that as we need to. If that's two, three, or four years away, that's something we'll deal with.
But again, having a team, as proposed, in Westchester, would be an exciting development that our organization understands and supports. That's part of the growth of this league. Having seventeen teams right now, it's just inevitable that change is going to happen if thirty teams is where they're going. Changes in affiliations are just going to happen. That's part of the process.
Q: Aside from the Knicks aspect of it, can you give me a glimpse of what the basketball culture is like in Erie? How's the atmosphere out there?
A: Erie is a great minor league market. The [fans] understand that players change and faces change. Whether it's basketball, baseball, or hockey, they like seeing players come through here to get to the next level. One of the things they've always come to understand, is that the family entertainment, value, and the fun that we have is really where our staff on the business side of things focuses our efforts. As we watch some of the things on the basketball side change, we can promise our fans that we're here to stay. We're planning for next year, and that affordable type of family fun is really at the heart of what we do. At the same time, the growth of this league is exciting, and for Erie to have a Development League franchise, has been great for our region. That's because there are only seventeen teams. For me, being born and raised in Erie, I know it's something we're pretty proud of. We're "business as usual" and will see what happens on the affiliate front as we go along.