Looking to have a Florida based NBA Development League affiliate, the Orlando Magic sent requests for proposals to eight locations in the state yesterday to host the team. Jacksonville is the only North Florida location to receive the request. Daytona Beach, Kissimmee, two locations in Orlando, Lakeland, Estero and Ft. Myers have also been invited to apply.
“We’ll be looking for an opportunity that is in close proximity but also has the population base and the potential fan base to support the team,” Alex Martins CEO of the Magic said Wednesday.
“The survival of the team from a business standpoint and from a fan-support standpoint is equally as important as the player-development needs of the team. All of that will be balanced in our decision, dependent upon which of these communities is interested in having us and hosting us. It’s not a foregone conclusion that every one of these cities that we’ve sent RFPs to will be interested.”
Currently in an agreement with the Erie BayHawks of the D-League that runs through next year, the Magic say they’d like to have a Florida based affiliate for the 2017-2018 season.
Most NBA teams have an affiliation with a D-League team that is similar to the relationship between teams in Major League Baseball and the minors. The club generally supplies and pays the players and coaches while the affiliate is owned locally. The Magic haven’t decided whether they would own the team or potentially sell the affiliate to a local ownership group. Ron Sholes, the owner of the Jacksonville Giants of the ABA has already expressed an interest in owning a D-League team in Jacksonville.
Having a minor league team nearby would make the “development” part of the D-League easier on the clubs and the players. Shuttling players from the big league club to the D-League during the season is a common practice. Charlotte is putting their D-League team in Greensboro starting next year. The Spurs affiliate is in Austin. Golden State’s is in Santa Cruz. Oklahoma City’s D-League affiliate plays across the street from the big league club. The NBA is also trying to develop practices in the D-League that would allow executives to eventually move into parent franchise leadership roles.
If Jacksonville submits a proposal to the Magic it would be co-authored by the City and SMG who manages the arena.
The D-league currently plays a 26 home games schedule.