On Wednesday morning, the Orlando Magic held a conference where they announced that they have reached an agreement to purchase the Erie Bayhawks, their current NBADL affiliate, and relocate the team to Lakeland, Florida. The team intends to hold its games at the Lakeland Center where they hope to begin play in the 2017/18 season.
Coinciding with the announcement, the Magic named Shelly Wilkes as the president of the Lakeland franchise. Wilkes has been with the Magic since 2004 and is currently the team’s senior director of event presentation, broadcast production, and creative services.
Orlando’s decision to purchase the affiliate and ultimately move the team came to the surprise of nobody close to the D-League, as the Magic were on the final year of their three-year affiliate agreement with the Bayhawks. A change needed to happen as the Erie Bayhawks were just too far from Orlando for the Magic to truly utilize the D-League for its full benefits.
For a Magic prospect to play with the Bayhawks, he’d have to to travel over 1,000 miles before he’d be able to suit up in Erie. The move to Lakeland completely fixes that issue as the Lakeland Center is only 55 miles away from the Amway Center, the current home of the Orlando Magic. This drastic improvement would realistically allow Magic prospects to go to Lakeland to participate in a D-League game or practice, and then return to Orlando to play in the evening.
Following the Magic’s press conference, Ridiculous Upside reached out to Lakeland city manager Tony Delgado to get the local take on this announcement. "The City of Lakeland and our venue operations are extremely excited to have the opportunity to partner with our friends, the Orlando Magic and their D-League affiliate,” Delgado told Ridiculous Upside. “Our entire business community, County partners and County Tourist Development Sports Marketing teams worked hand in hand with the Orlando Magic to ensure the best possible a scenario for the team to succeed now and long into the future. Obviously, this affiliation will also reap great rewards for our community and county from both a economic development and marketing awareness perspective. It is quite the early Christmas present for our community and we are honored to be the new home of the D-League affiliate and member of the leagues family.”
If you’re a Magic fan that interested in making a deposit for the Lakeland D-League team, you can call 407-447-2210 or visit OrlandoMagic.com/Lakeland.